Review and Test Drive: Apple CarPlay’s Cool New Dual-Display Support in the VW Atlas Cross Sport

New Functionality Puts Turn-By-Turn Instructions Where They Belong

By Jonathan Spira on 26 February 2021
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Apple first introduced its CarPlay infotainment system seven years ago at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show. If you’re not familiar with Apple CarPlay, it is an in-vehicle touch-based display interface that functions as an extension of a driver’s iPhone and six years later, it became available in almost every new vehicle sold.

At the time of its introduction, CarPlay only had access to the vehicle’s central information display, or CID, typically located in the section of the center console that is still part of the dashboard, in contrast the fairly standard user experience that a vehicle manufacturer’s navigation system would offer, namely turn-by-turn directions (also known as a maneuver instruction card or navigation arrows) and information on the current music source including album art in the instrument cluster that appear directly in the driver’s field of vision.  Indeed, vehicles from countless automakers have rich displays directly in front of the driver to convey important information in the form of a digital instrument cluster

The limitation resulted in a subpar navigation experience. The good news is that, at least in a select few vehicles, CarPlay navigation information including turn-by-turn directions, arrival time and the distance remaining, is now available in the instrument cluster.

2021 VW Atlas Cross Sport

The new functionality comes via a 2019 update to Apple’s iOS operating system. With the introduction of iOS 13, Apple made significant updates to Apple CarPlay including dual-display or second-screen support.  This allows information such as turn-by-turn instructions to be shown on the same screen as the vehicle’s tachometer and speedometer, amongst other gauges.

Much to my surprise, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport that recently graced our press fleet supported extensive dual-display functionality including the display of maneuver instruction cards, arrival time, remaining distance, and information on what music is currently playing including the album art.

In the Cross Sport, I didn’t have to do anything: the information started appearing on the instrument cluster but it is easy to set and customize if you know where to look.

Click here to continue to Page 2Setting the Digital Cockpit

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