At some point in September, Apple users will have their iPhones prompt them to install the latest update of its operating system, iOS 13.
There's a long list of reasons iOS 13 is worth your time, but we think you’ll look forward to the CarPlay update the most. The update will be free, and should give CarPlay users a new-car feeling once connected.
The first thing you’ll notice is a home screen for Apple CarPlay displaying cards designed to give you more information at a glance. It'll be dynamic, and look different depending on what's in your calendar, where you're heading, and what you're listening to.
We could see a quick access button to begin navigation to 'work' when we connected, along with a card for the podcast we were listening to, and a larger card showing Apple Maps. To the far right are recently-used applications and a button to view your apps.
You can also just swipe right to get to your traditional app screen.
Things look relatively the same here – a few app icons look refreshed – so it’s not until you open Apple's apps you notice the changes.
Third-party applications will likely update to blend into the new design philosophy over the next weeks to improve their integration into iOS 13.
Jumping into Calendar reveals your schedule, and allows you start navigation to an appointment. If your next meeting is a conference call, the update makes it easier to dial in.
Apple Maps is something many users have avoided in the past, in favour of Google Maps. Our time with the new CarPlay reveals the performance of Apple Maps has improved significantly, as has its ease of use. Google Maps needs an update to look relevant now.
Opening Apple Maps shows a mini menu allowing you to enter destinations with Siri, an on-screen keyboard, or using a list of categories for points of interest. If it's a coffee shop you're after, the system will show you nearby options and their star ratings on Yelp and TripAdvisor.
It also offers a quick tap to begin navigating there, as well as the option to call if you need to book a table.
The Settings section in CarPlay now provides the option to toggle Do Not Disturb While Driving. This feature, when enabled, will silence all incoming calls and automatically respond with an SMS that you’re currently driving and will call back later.
This is excellent for P Plate drivers who are not allowed to accept a call while driving as it will remove the temptation altogether. The other interesting area in Settings is the toggle for light or dark mode to be automatic or fixed.
In the previous version of iOS, if you were using CarPlay, your iPhone would also mimic the infotainment system. If your passenger was to use your phone during navigation, the CarPlay screen would revert to the icons. In iOS13 this is no longer the case.
You can keep your navigation running while your co-pilot browses for a new playlist, or anything else on the phone. Siri has taken a more subtle approach in iOS 13, but expands its reach into more applications.
From a design perspective, summoning Siri doesn’t replace the entire screen, it now places a vocal display line over what you're already doing, especially handy when using navigation.
Siri will now also allow you further voice commands into other applications outside the Apple ecosystem, including music controls in Spotify for example.
While we were using a Public Beta version of iOS 13 and there are likely some bugs in play, we were pleasantly surprised with what we saw.
With the latest version of Android Auto now available, this is a timely move by Apple to refresh their infotainment system alternative.
Which devices support iOS 13 and new Apple CarPlay?
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max
- iPhone XR
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 6s
- iPhone 6s Plus
- iPhone SE
- iPod touch (7th generation)
Geoff Quattromani is a tech commentator across radio, print, online and television. Continue the conversation with Geoff on Twitter at @GQuattromani