Hands-On with Apple CarPlay + List of VW USA Models Offering Full Smartphone Integration

Golf Sw

Nowadays, distracted driving is on the rise. Android and Apple phones can be used for navigation but people also use them to text while driving. With technology evolving, it was only time before our phones became a part of our in-dash infotainment systems. Not surprisingly, both Android and Apple have created Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to simulate your phone on your current infotainment systems. For 2015 and on, some cars come with either Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, or both. My car has the option for both, but since I own the much superior iPhone, I have the option to use Apple CarPlay.

How it works is quite easy. Grab your iPhone charger, plug it into the USB port, connect your iPhone and ta-dah! Apple CarPlay becomes available. The screen won’t show you Tinder or Instagram, but you can use the essentials such as Phone, Music, Maps, Messages, Audiobooks, and Podcasts.  While the screen in the car doesn’t match your iPhone screen exactly, it is cool to have the essential Apple apps. Controlling the apps can be simply whether you have a touch screen system use knobs and controls or use voice control.

Now about that wonderful assistant. What is interesting about Apple CarPlay is that most things are done through Siri. If you want to send or receive a text message, there are no reading and writing options. Instead, you speak out your messages and listen. It does get quite funny when friends send emojis and Siri speaks them out. As with a regular text message, you can receive these messages at any time even while listening to music. The music or navigation voice will go silent as the message is read.

Phone calls and the Maps app are similar to your phone so they are fairly simple to use. Using Maps is interesting because it will predict where you are going to go based on past locations. Fun fact though: in the Volkswagen GTI, you can’t use the factory navigation system which comes with the car in Autobahn trim. If you are going to use the Maps app with CarPlay, my advice is to put the destination in your phone first and then sync it with CarPlay.

At first, I thought that Apple CarPlay was going to be another gimmick to help with the distracted driving laws in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Being an avid iPhone user (not while driving, of course), I found CarPlay to be extremely easy to use. You can have other programs running through your screen and cycle between the CarPlay functions. After I while, I began finding myself using nothing but CarPlay. Better yet, if someone sent me a text message, I could respond while driving then instantaneously listening to the songs on my iPhone.

Apple CarPlay is quite ingenious for how simple it is. My only problems have been sometimes my phone doesn’t connect to the system right away and I have to reconnect my phone more than once. As much as I do like this technology, I wouldn’t buy a car only because it has it. Apple CarPlay feels more like an advancement on BlueTooth and infortainment systems. That said, many manufacturers are offering CarPlay including Ford, Dodge, Toyota, and Honda. If you own an iPhone and are currently in the market for a new car, having Apple CarPlay can make using your apps a lot easier to use. Unless it’s Facebook. Then you’re out of luck.

TL;DR: Cool system for Apple users and no, you can’t use Tinder on it…yet…



HD Drive Review Golf R


Volkswagen USA Models with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto


The following Volkswagen models will have App-Connect available on select trim levels.

  • 2016 Volkswagen Jetta
  • 2016 Volkswagen Passat
  • 2016 Volkswagen CC
  • 2016 Volkswagen Beetle and Beetle Convertible
  • 2016 Volkswagen Golf
  • 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI
  • 2016 Volkswagen Golf R
  • 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf
  • 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
  • 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan