This Is Why Your iPhone Won’t Connect to CarPlay Wirelessly

Wireless CarPlay Credit: Moma okgo / Shutterstock
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CarPlay is a system that brings many capabilities of your iPhone’s operating system to your car’s infotainment system, traditionally using a Lightning cable. But what about wireless CarPlay?

The CarPlay system is meant to connect to your iPhone via a wire or wirelessly. But even if you have a CarPlay infotainment system in your vehicle, there’s a good chance that you can’t take advantage of wireless connectivity.

If you’re wondering why that is (and how you can get wireless CarPlay), here’s everything you need to know.

Here’s Why Most Cars Don’t Have Wireless CarPlay

Many modern vehicles support some type of Bluetooth connectivity. But even if they have Bluetooth, it doesn’t mean that they’ll support wireless CarPlay.

Largely, that’s because a simple Bluetooth connection isn’t robust enough. While it may work for simple phone calls and music streaming, it doesn’t support transfers of the amount of data that CarPlay requires.

In a nutshell, wireless CarPlay requires both Bluetooth and in-vehicle Wi-Fi. But even then, it isn’t as simple as adding wireless CarPlay to any vehicle with a vehicle-based router.

CarPlay would need dual-band router hardware to actually work, a critical component that most cars with in-vehicle Wi-Fi lack. (They also require a GPS receiver, although many vehicles with baked-in navigation have those.)

Really, it all comes down to hardware. A vehicle maker needs to implement all of the specific components that wireless CarPlay needs. It’s likely because of that, that many manufacturers just implement the wired version since wired connections are robust enough for it and cost less.

It’s worth noting that even though not many vehicles support wireless CarPlay, even fewer support the competing option for Android Auto. As of the writing of this article, there isn’t a single vehicle that offers wireless Android Auto on the market.

Which Cars Offer Wireless CarPlay?

With all of this being said, there are still some vehicles that meet all of the hardware requirements of wireless CarPlay and offer the feature as an add-on.

Presently, that includes some Audi models, most BMW models with upgrade packages, and several vehicles produced by Mini (which, it’s worth noting, BMW owns).

While BMW and Audi are spearheading in-vehicle CarPlay, other domestic and import carmakers are starting to catch up.

Take Ford. In a press release on Oct. 30, the American car manufacturer announced that it was bringing wireless CarPlay support to some of its 2020 vehicles. Specifically, that includes 2020 models with in-vehicle screens ranging from 8- to 15.5- inches.

So even if your favorite car manufacturer doesn’t offer wireless CarPlay support now, there’s a good chance that most OEMs will adopt these systems more widely in the near future.

In the meantime, you can opt for one of the vehicles that support it. Or just use wired CarPlay.

Similarly, users can always install wireless CarPlay themselves using aftermarket devices. While once fairly expensive, prices for those systems are starting to come down. We may earn a commission from products purchased using our links.

Wireless CarPlay Solutions

  1. Alpine iLX-107 – 7″ In-Dash Receiver with Wireless Apple CarPlay.
  2. Carlinkit Wireless CarPlay Dongle for Audi Vehicles.
  3. Shop other wireless CarPlay solutions.
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