Setting up wireless Apple CarPlay is easy when you have a car that can handle it. Yes, Apple has been slowly moving its handsets into a fully wireless future, whether that be wireless earbuds like the AirPods or connecting to your car. Once a rarity, the wireless version of Apple CarPlay is available in a large number of modern cars – and more are on the way.
But how do you use it? Using the wired version of CarPlay is as simple as plugging your phone into your car’s main USB port and letting the two sort themselves out. Wireless CarPlay isn’t that obvious, but luckily it only takes a few extra steps to set it up.
Here’s how to set up wireless Apple CarPlay in your car.
Set up wireless Apple CarPlay via USB
Connect your phone to the car’s USB-A port with a Lightning cable. Make sure the ignition is on and the display is on.
Your phone and car should communicate automatically when you open CarPlay. If not, look for a dedicated Apple CarPlay or smartphone connection option in your car’s apps menu.
Your phone will ask if you want to allow CarPlay when your phone is locked. Tap Allow†
If your car supports wireless CarPlay, you will be asked if you want it in the following menu: Enable Wireless CarPlay† Tap it.
Disconnect your phone and check that the CarPlay connection is not lost. If so, make sure both your car and your iPhone’s Bluetooth are turned on.
Once the wireless connection is working, CarPlay should load automatically every time you turn on the engine.
Set up wireless Apple Carplay wirelessly
If your car doesn’t support wired CarPlay, or you don’t have a USB-A to Lightning cable handy, don’t worry. You can set up CarPlay without a cable using your car’s voice command system.
While the wireless connection or Bluetooth is on, press and hold the car’s voice control button on the steering wheel.
On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > CarPlay
Search and select your car.
CarPlay should initialize and will continue to do so every time you start your engine.
Which iPhones support wireless CarPlay?
CarPlay was first launched in 2014 and was compatible with iPhones as old as (and including the iPhone 5). Wireless CarPlay was launched a year later, as part of iOS 9. So as long as your phone is a) newer than an iPhone 5 and b) running iOS 9 or newer, it can handle wireless CarPlay.
The chances that you have an iPhone that doesn’t support wireless CarPlay are pretty slim.
Which cars support wireless CarPlay?
More than 600 cars support Apple CarPlay, according to on Apple’s website, but so far Apple has not revealed a comprehensive list of which cars support the wireless protocol. However, as a general rule, all CarPlay-compatible cars made after 2019 also offer wireless CarPlay as standard.
But this is not guaranteed, and it may depend on which model you actually buy. So check the manufacturer’s website before committing to buying the car.
It is possible to retrofit wireless CarPlay support to cars by using wireless adapters or by swapping the original stereo system for a system with wireless capabilities. However, the latter option can be expensive and wireless adapters vary in quality. So if you’re determined to have wireless CarPlay, it’s easier to just buy a model that offers it on day one.
The vast majority of major automakers offer CarPlay, including Mercedes, Audi, General Motors, and even Ferrari. The only major automaker not currently offering CarPlay support is Tesla.