CarPlay: Everything you need to know

Many newer cars use CarPlay (or Android Auto) which integrates your smartphone with your vehicle. You can use it to access maps, music, text and calls. Read our guide for all you need to know about this technology.

Not many things date quicker than in-car tech. All you need to do is look at the media set up in any vehicle from a decade ago and it’ll already seem antique.

Meanwhile, smartphone functionality continues to progress so fast that motor manufacturers struggle to keep up. But putting smartphone technology into cars and making sure it’s safe to use at the wheel solves the problem. Apple CarPlay is the answer for many automakers – and similar technology, called Android Auto, also exists. To use Android Auto, you need a smartphone, such as a Samsung, that runs the Android operating system. However, CarPlay is all about Apple iPhones.

Growing trend

Car manufacturers are starting to rely so heavily on smartphone tech integration that some have even dispensed with producing cars with sat-nav installed in them. However, many cars and some Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) on the Scheme have media systems with an in-built sat-nav. It’s important to note that some vehicles require a sat-nav, or infotainment system upgrade, in order for CarPlay or Android Auto to be successfully integrated so please bear this in mind when choosing your next vehicle, and check the spec of your vehicle with your dealer before placing your application. 

The tech puts a lot of what’s on your phone onto your car’s media screen, including Apple Maps, Waze and Google Maps (the latter two previously only appeared on the Android Auto platform, but now also have the capabilities to integrate with CarPlay). Whatever the case, though, your smartphone either integrates with or becomes your sat-nav.


Most passenger WAVs do have the option of smartphone tech integration (which can support either CarPlay or Android Auto) but in many cases this is not standard on the most popular WAV models. If you’re looking for a WAV and are interested in this tech you may need to order the WAV with an upgraded in-car entertainment system (at an additional cost) or to choose a higher specification model at a higher Advance Payment. The upgraded in-car entertainment system may include other features such as a built-in sat-nav, as well as CarPlay, so if you are planning to use CarPlay in a WAV then please make sure you speak to your supplier during your application.


Don’t get put off a vehicle if it’s got CarPlay instead of an in-built sat-nav; it’s stress-free to use, whether in a WAV, a Drive from WAV, or a standard car.

A significant advantage of CarPlay is Siri. Vehicles with factory-fitted CarPlay support typically enable access to Apple’s voice-triggered assistant through a voice control switch on the steering wheel. Siri works seamlessly with Apple Maps, making it undemanding to ask for directions without needing to type and hunt for the location. You can call, text, and play music via CarPlay too, and as mentioned, it does it all through your car’s media screen.

CarPlay connectivity for most cars, WAVs and Drive from WAVs is via an ordinary Apple “Lightning” lead. However, Apple revised CarPlay in 2017 to support wireless CarPlay connectivity.

How to use CarPlay

Setting up CarPlay couldn’t be easier. Just follow these steps:

  1. Start your vehicle.
  2. Using a USB lead, connect your iPhone into the USB slot in your car.
  3. If your car can utilise Apple CarPlay wirelessly, activate it by pressing and holding the steering wheel’s voice command button. Switch your car stereo to wireless or Bluetooth. Change your iPhone to: Settings > General > CarPlay and click on your car name.
  4. To use Siri, either press the voice-command switch on your steering wheel and talk to Siri – or tap the CarPlay button on your car’s media touchscreen.

Setting up Android Auto is a similar process. Just connect your Android smartphone (e.g. a Samsung Galaxy) to your vehicle, and your Android apps show up on your car’s screen.

If you’re still unsure, you can always look at your car manual for further information.

Car search

The Motability Scheme enables you to swap all or a part of your qualifying mobility allowance to lease a car, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle, a powered wheelchair, or a scooter.

If you’re considering signing up to the Scheme, or you’re changing your Scheme vehicle, explore our selection of cars via our Car Search tool

If you’d like to know more about the Scheme, request a free information pack and we’ll send you all the information that you need.

Get a free information pack

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