Apple CarPlay – Review and Test Report

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Apple is fortunate it didn’t launch CarPlay before Apple Maps had a chance to mature. While the app works fairly well now, it would have been a rolling disaster had drivers depended on it on day 1. Indeed, with two glaring exceptions, its failure to find me an address within the Brooklyn Navy Yard (which Google Maps did no better in finding) and a refusal to provide directions to the Long Island Railroad Station in Bayside (“Sorry. I cannot provide transit directions while connected to CarPlay”), it repeatedly got me where I needed to go.

Siri excelled in translating speech to text when I spoke my desired destinations. She nailed the addresses much more consistently than any other in-car speech-to-text system I’ve used. Indeed, Siri Suggestions frequently guessed where I wanted to go based on information in my calendar or time of day (for example, if it was late in the evening, it suggested I drive home) and typically got it right. This is more an iOS 9 function than a CarPlay function but it’s something a car’s system typically doesn’t offer.

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Where I found Siri lagging – quite literally – was speed. When Siri announces a traffic direction, for example, she fades out the music far earlier than I’d expect, using virtually any car’s legacy navigation system as a benchmark. She also takes her time restoring the music to its previous listening level.

I noticed the same issue with the ring tone from my iPhone. The music I was listening to would fade out much earlier than what I would think necessary prior to playing the ringtone.

While CarPlay would display album art on the Cadillac’s cluster display and music information on the head up display, it only showed navi info on the central display, an area I would hope Apple and/or General Motors would improve upon.

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