An Apple CarPlay radio is a car stereo with a touchscreen and an interface that allows Apple ‘car play’ the iPhone to the stereo’s display.
Apple and Google are the top mobile phone OS developers. They have each made it possible for the radio’s screen to act as if it were the phone itself, with the help of the correct interface. Apple’s version of this is CarPlay, and Google’s Android version of this is Android Auto.
CarPlay controls the phone’s touch screen and displays apps on the car stereo. Your apps appear in a better format on a landscape screen, regardless of your phone’s current orientation. You can interact with the car stereo screen like you would with your phone. A larger screen, in a better position for the driver and linked to a car radio, is an ideal upgrade for your in-car entertainment.
Wired or Wireless
The connection between your phone and the stereo via the CarPlay system can be made with the USB cable supplied with the phone or over Wi-Fi. The type of interface used to provide the Apple CarPlay service will ultimately decide if wireless CarPlay is an option. If you want to use wireless CarPlay, you will need to confirm this before purchase. Wired CarPlay can charge your phone, albeit possibly quite slowly, while you use CarPlay.
Although they are often called Apple CarPlay radios, the radio part rarely plays a part in the sounds. Streaming over the internet, iTunes, and even some old-school MP3 tracks shared with you are played on the car stereo.
The head unit is the name for the modern car stereo with a touch screen. These may have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as standard. Others can be adapted for CarPlay, or they may not support it. You need to pick the right one to support your desired features.
Apple CarPlay in the radio or Android Auto in the stereo may not be the only reason to buy a compatible aftermarket headunit. Sound quality can be a significant factor, as can the cost or reliability. You may need a new Apple CarPlay radio to replace your stereo or find a suitable adaptor. It all depends on what you already have, even down to the software version in a factory-installed headunit.