Apple CarPlay Gains New Functionality and an Improved Interface with iOS 10.3

By Jeremy Del Nero on 17 April 2017
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The recently released version of iOS, 10.3, included a few updates and tweaks to Apple CarPlay as well. The new features, while minor, greatly improve CarPlay’s usability and functionality and we used a 2017 Ford Superduty F250 Platinum diesel-powered pick-up truck as a test bed.

As regular readers know, we are unabashed fans of CarPlay because of its intelligent design and that it somewhat cuts back on smartphone distractions while driving. One major improvement that came with iOS 10.3 helps further curtail distractions, a task switcher.

Apple has placed three icons along the left side of the screen including the icon of the app currently in use as well as two icons for the two most recently used apps. This eliminates the need to first hit the home button on the screen or grab your phone (which causes more distractions) to switch to another recently used app.

Our test vehicle, the Ford Superduty F250 Platinum

Our test vehicle, the Ford Superduty F250 Platinum

To accommodate the move, Apple relocated the clock display and signal strength indicator to the bottom left of the screen.

The three icons in the task switcher are all the same size on the home screen but when an app is running its icon remains on top and is slightly larger. To use, simply tap one of the icons to open an app.

This new functionality doesn’t require any updates to the car so once you have 10.3 on your phone, you’ll see the task switcher automatically.

Apple is also adding functionality to the Apple Music Now Playing screen, which will now show which song is coming up next in addition to the one currently playing. Apple says it has also added daily curated playlists and new music categories in Apple Music as well.

Some changes, however, will require an updated app from the automaker. Apple has given Siri the capability to interface with automaker-provided apps so she will be able to check the car’s fuel level and lock status. In addition, your phone will also be able to turn on the car’s lights and activate its horn, if so supported.

Jonathan Spira contributed to this review.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)