Thoughts on Improving CarPlay

Hobie Henning
5 min readMar 15, 2022

I have had a Nissan Altima for about two months now and so far the thing I’ve enjoyed the most about the new car is the upgrade to Apple CarPlay. The larger 8” touchscreen was one of the reasons I went with the Altima over the Toyota Camry and the lack of CarPlay was one of the knocks against the Tesla Model 3 this time again (Other than the lack of infrastructure and service centers in my area). For me, it’s been a transformational car experience. After using it for a while here are a few things that I think they could improve or expand into over time.

App Store: I do wise that CarPlay had an App Store menu to discover new apps. Apple has a webpage of listed apps, but discovery for new CarPlay apps is really weak.

Streaming Video and Game support: I think it would be nice to have more app types in your car for newer vehicles, including, but not limited to ordering coffee or food as well as the ability to play Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and Disney+ when the car in park. Games would be cool as well if you tethered a Bluetooth controller. I think on electric vehicles that require you to sit and charge for longer periods of time this would be useful to have or heck, just waiting at a ball park waiting for kids to get done with practice would be nice to have.

Food & Beverage Ordering: Being able to order coffee or other food while in CarPlay would be pretty neat, particular for drive-in places like Chick-Fil-A, Chipotle, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc. It would be neat to be able to just do it from your car screen when you’re parked instead of having to pull out your phone and navigate through the specific app. Also location sharing with the restaurant would be neat for stuff like coffee so it can be prepared for you and warm as you arrive. People could have custom + recent order presets already in place.

AM/FM Passthrough: Having traditional radio pass through to CarPlay would give me one less reason to use the Car’s built-in radio system. I rarely use AM/FM radio, but particularly for emergencies its useful and honestly, its the easiest way for a lot of people to still get music. You shouldn’t need to burn up data or have a streaming music plan to listen to music in CarPlay if the goal is to keep end-users in that interface.

Instrument cluster support: I know CarPlay has some way to project out to a secondary screen, but I never see any car maker use it in any car under $40K, particularly because of how limited it is. I’ve been seeing a lot of cars in the $38K and up range start to move to an all-digital instrument cluster that can be customized and changed. It would be great for CarPlay to start to expand out to that screen and take over that screen if you desire. Like Apple Watch faces, having dials and instrument layouts that you could customize for your car would be fantastic. For example, if you are feeling sporty have a lot of analogy dials showing you the car’s details, but if you’re on a long-drive maybe have your upcoming directions, driving range, weather, etc right in front of you would be handy.

Support for huge screens: Most CarPlay screens are 7–10”, most are NOT widescreen. The screen on the Tesla Model 3 is 15” and while I doubt that Tesla would give up its control over its own car UI. I imagine that there are car companies that would like to get some help from Apple to figure out the car UI’s in their future cars as EVs are forcing more technology into the car.

CarPlay DJ: If you have wireless CarPlay, you can allow others to take control over the screen (Or if you have wired you can simply let them plug in their phone), but as the driver I want control over the car, the navigation, etc. It would be nice thought to allow people to Airplay their own music/podcasts/audiobooks to the car wirelessly without me having to give up control the rest of the screen.

HVAC Controls and Backup camera: One way to get thrown out of CarPlay in my Nissan is for me to backup and obviously my AC controls are dials and not even digital. It would be great to be able to ask Siri to control my AC/Heater in my car and the car’s cameras to be present within the CarPlay interface without dropping out of the entire experience. It’s annoying for music or other audio to be playing and me not be able to control it when I start to back up. There have been a number of situations that the audio is too loud and me want to turn it off or down while backing up for safety and I have to mode-shift and go back to the physical dials in the car, which is distracting.

Security System integration: This is another thing that I think CarPlay could be a game-changer. Tesla’s have sentry mode that they record security and physical incidents to the car with the 360 cameras that the car has. More and more cars are including systems like this. Being able to review, save, and share these recordings would be really useful in CarPlay.

CarPlay iPhone and Apple Watch app: More and more cars are coming with Apps for stuff like remote start, remote climate control, finding your car, scheduling service, giving others permission to drive, etc. Have a CarPlay app would be useful in that car makers could just integrate into that as a standard experience. I could see this being a good way to give you Siri control over your car remotely as well and give you a place to give people Car Key permissions or arrange your CarPlay home screen for your particular vehicle.



Hobie Henning

IT Support Specialist V and Spring Hill College graduate who loves all things tech. If it has a flashing LED it has my immediate attention.