CarPlay in iOS 14: Features & Updates

Bianka Rommel
Oct 22, 2020

CarPlay Fans — it’s all getting even better! In September 2020, Apple launched the iOS 14 update for iPhones all the way back to the iPhone 6S and first generation SE. And gladly, CarPlay wasn’t overlooked in getting a small restyle. Now, we’re here to tell you all about its refreshed interface and the upgraded features you might find helpful in everyday use. Let’s see what the iOS 14 CarPlay changes are...

What is new for CarPlay in iOS 14?

The first impression you might get from looking at the new Apple CarPlay is that the interface hasn’t changed much, apart from a brand-new vibrant background. But there’s definitely more to the BMW CarPlay update than just a colorful wallpaper. You’ll find an improved Siri feature, updates to Apple Maps and the Apple Music app, support for new categories of apps and more. 

Don’t have Apple CarPlay yet? See why it’s worth having it. 

Custom Wallpaper support on CarPlay 

The brand-new feature of the iOS 14 update, and certainly the most eye-catching, is custom wallpaper support. Apple made it possible for users to pick a background for their CarPlay home screen, to bring some colour and a hint of customizability to the infotainment experience.

Custom Wallpaper support on CarPlay 

How to Change Your CarPlay Wallpaper? 

So, what you can do to change your wallpaper is go to settings and pick a background from a number of predefined motifs — both those with popping colours or more toned-down and darker ones. 

How to Change Your CarPlay Wallpaper? 

Here’s how to change the iOS 14 CarPlay custom wallpaper:  

  1. Once you launch the updated CarPlay on your display, click on the App Grid button. You’ll find it on the bottom-left corner of your screen.
  2. Go to the ‘Settings’ app.
  3. Tap on ‘Wallpaper’.
  4. Choose one you prefer.
  5. And lastly, confirm it using the ‘Set’ button.

For now it’s not possible to set a custom image as a CarPlay background, but it’s only a matter of time for this feature to be introduced.

Apple Maps update on iOS 14 CarPlay 

Another BMW CarPlay update was brought to the Apple Maps app to enrich it with new, useful features, including: EV routing, speed camera alerts and a stop lights timer.

Apple Maps update on iOS 14 CarPlay 

The EV routes planner lets owners of electric BMWs plan a trip by adding public chargers with compatible ports to the route, making it easy to charge the car whenever needed. What’s more, it can check how much charge is left and notify you about it before you run out of energy. 

Although EV routing is a very helpful feature, it’s also specific to a particular type of car. On the other hand, something every BMW owner can enjoy and benefit from are the speed camera alert and stop lights timer features. They’ll make it easier for drivers to avoid speeding tickets and… get a little less annoyed while waiting for a green light to appear ;)

Think you could use some traffic information as well? Activate the TMC service with our fast USB coding and avoid traffic for good. 

Improved Siri on iOS 14 CarPlay 

The predominant aim of every BMW CarPlay update is always the same — help drivers do more, while getting less distracted. And with these Siri improvements, the infotainment user experience undoubtedly got enhanced. 

Apart from getting a new, minimalistic design that’s less distracting for the eye, Siri has been programmed to send audio messages to your contact list and share your ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) with your family and friends. Sending text messages isn’t new for CarPlay’s Siri, but sharing them in audio form is something very recent, and may turn out to be a great addition for those who do a lot of texting, especially for business purposes. 

How many times has Siri misspelled your words while recording a text message? Too many to count? ;) It has probably gotten you into some funny or awkward situations, and made you double-check each recording. Fortunately, sending out a recorded voice message should bring you peace of mind and help you avoid any misunderstandings. 

Missing both CarPlay and Siri in your BMW? Add it via BimmerTech’s USB coding.

Improved Siri on iOS 14 CarPlay

For now that would be it with Siri update in iOS 14 — yet she still has a bright future ahead of her, as Apple’s very keen on allowing Siri to interact with third-party apps, such as Spotify or smart home apps. With that in mind, you may soon be able to control your at home devices or garage door with CarPlay’s voice assistant. That’s all still a theory though, so don’t get excited too soon ;)

Apple Music update on iOS 14 CarPlay 

The iOS 14 update also didn't miss Apple Music. The app has now caught up with Spotify to welcome autoplay mode on the queue screen, which lets you replay any queued songs, playlists or albums you choose. 

Apple Music update on iOS 14 CarPlay

Japanese and Chinese Keyboards

CarPlay gets multilingual! If your first language is Chinese or Japanese, or if you live in one of those two regions, you’ll find this feature very convenient. In the latest update, CarPlay started to support Chinese and Japanese keyboards, so that you can search for points of interest in your native language. 

Support for New Categories of Apps

Now, a little treat for developers. Apple had a history of supporting only a limited number of apps for CarPlay. Yet, with the coming of the new software, that has changed, as it added support for three new categories of iOS 14 CarPlay apps: parking apps, food delivery apps and EV charging station apps. So, if any of you is an app developer and you have a million dollar idea for a new CarPlay application, go for it ;) Try your hand at creating some functional software for BMW drivers.

Need more space for all of your favourite apps on the screen? BimmerTech’s easy USB coding will have your BMW display the iOS 14 CarPlay full screen

Digital Key in iOS 14 

Lastly, coming to probably the most substantial iOS 14 update every BMW gadgeteer will enjoy — an app turning your iPhone into a Car Key. This may not be strictly a CarPlay update, but it’s the most original feature of the new software ;)

As the name suggests, using the Car Key app, drivers will be able to turn their phone into a real BMW key, which will make it possible to lock or unlock the doors, start the car and even share the key with up to 5 people. When sharing the digital key, the owner will also be able to limit certain features in the car, including top speed, audio volume or acceleration.

How to add the Car Key to your phone and BMW? Check out our comprehensive tutorial for the BMW Digital Key.

How do you update CarPlay to iOS 14?

Getting an Apple CarPlay software update is very easy to achieve. Just update your iPhone to the latest iOS 14 version and in a matter of 30 minutes your phone will gain the new software. CarPlay will immediately recognize it once you plug your phone into your car, or connect it wirelessly.  All of your phone’s layouts and previous settings will remain untouched, so there's no need to worry about losing your content during the update.

And to all CarPlay MMI Prime owners — we have some good news for you too. You can make your BMW CarPlay retrofit even more responsive and packed with extra features enhancing your infotainment experience. If you have an iPhone 6S or later, the iOS 14 update will be possible on your CarPlay MMI Prime and will require of you only one additional step. Just update your iPhone to the new software version. After you do so, we recommend changing the Wi-Fi channel in the MMI's menu to 6 from the default 36. If your MMI Prime doesn't have a Wi-Fi Channel setting please contact our support team.

How does the original Apple CarPlay differ from our BMW CarPlay upgrade? Find out all about it here. 

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Summary

At first glance, there may not be a huge difference between the CarPlay features on iOS 13 vs iOS 14, but the introduced updates have definitely made the Apple system more cooperative than before. The enhanced customization possibilities, greater support for new apps and improvements to Siri connectivity, all contribute to CarPlay’s 2020 technological progress — leaving us in greater anticipation for the changes to come.  


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