Hands-On With CarPlay in iOS 13: Everything That’s New

Along with many new features for the iPhone and the iPad, iOS 13 brings updates to CarPlay, overhauling the interface for the first time in years and adding useful new functionality.

In our latest YouTube video, we went hands-on with CarPlay in iOS 13 to give MacRumors readers an idea of what's new with Apple's in-car platform.

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CarPlay in iOS 13 has a redesigned and revamped Home screen with new table views, rounded corners, and an updated Home button that swaps between a dashboard icon and an app row icon depending on what app you're using.

The new tile-like user interface displays the Maps app, Shortcuts, Siri suggestions, Music Now Playing interface, and upcoming Calendar events all at a glance, which is convenient. Tapping on any of the tiles opens up the relevant app. You can, of course, still access the standard icon list from previous versions of CarPlay with a swipe.

In the new Calendar app, you can see all of your upcoming events for the day, which is useful for when you get in the car in the morning. If a calendar event has a location associated with it, you can tap on the event and get directions to where you need to go.


Maps has an updated look and feel, and it takes advantage of all of the features in iOS 13. In supported areas, there's better detail for roads, buildings, parks, and more, and you can use the Favorites and Collections features to route to saved locations. It's also easier to find points of interest along your current route in Maps.

Siri in Maps uses more natural language, which is a great update. As an example, instead of hearing "Turn right in 1,000 feet," Siri might instead say "turn right at the next traffic light."


Updates to the Music app make it easier to navigate through your music library, playlists, radio stations, and more, so you can find just what you want to hear with little effort. The Now Playing UI has also been updated with album art throughout the entire CarPlay interface, which is an improvement over CarPlay in iOS 12.


There's Siri support for third-party navigation apps, so you can ask Siri to do something like route you home using the Waze app instead of Apple Maps. In the future, Siri support could also come to music apps like Spotify in CarPlay thanks to new SiriKit APIs. You're also now able to use "Hey Siri" across all vehicles for easier Siri activation.

For those with HomeKit products like garage door openers, there's a handy Siri suggestions feature that does things like bring up an icon to open up your garage when you approach home. There are multiple Siri suggestions like this that are going to vary based on your CarPlay usage, but it's definitely a neat and useful addition.

CarPlay has a Settings app in iOS 13, so you can adjust Do Not Disturb While Driving, turn Siri on and off, turn off album art, and switch the appearance between the default dark mode and a new lighter user interface.

Also new to CarPlay is support for using CarPlay and your iPhone at the same time. In earlier versions of CarPlay, if you had Maps up but wanted to do something like change the music on your phone, it would kick you out of Maps on CarPlay. That's not the case anymore, so now you can have Maps up while doing other things on your iPhone.

All in all, iOS 13 brings some much needed changes to the CarPlay experience, and it should be a welcome update for CarPlay users. Know of an iOS 13 CarPlay feature that we left out? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundups: CarPlay, iOS 13, iPadOS

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Sony’s Latest CarPlay Receiver Features a Large 8.9-Inch Touchscreen That Hovers Over the Dashboard

Sony today unveiled its latest CarPlay and Android Auto receiver with a large 8.95-inch touchscreen that hovers over the dashboard, allowing it to fit into a smaller single-DIN space. Equipped with a three-way mount, the receiver's height, depth, and tilt can be adjusted during installation in most vehicles.

XAV-AX8000

Sony says the XAV-AX8000 will be available in December 2019 for a suggested retail price of $599.99 in the United States.

Aftermarket receivers like this one allow for CarPlay and Android Auto to be installed in older vehicles. This particular Sony model is a wired CarPlay receiver, so an iPhone must be connected with a Lightning to USB cable. Wireless CarPlay receivers are available from brands like Alpine, Kenwood, and JVC.

CarPlay is Apple's in-car platform that enables iPhone users to access a range of apps from the dashboard, such as Messages, Apple Maps, Apple Music, Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, SiriusXM Radio, Pandora, WhatsApp, Downcast, Slacker Radio, Stitcher, and as of iOS 12, third-party navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze.

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tag: Sony

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Spotify Stations iOS App Gains CarPlay Support

Spotify has added CarPlay support to its standalone Stations app, allowing users to control radio playback from their in-car infotainment systems and dashboards.


Spotify Stations' support for Apple CarPlay was spotted by a Reddit user

Released in the U.S. in June, the app lets Spotify account holders stream music from curated, radio-like stations. In that sense, Spotify Stations has similarities with Pandora, offering personalized stations or playlists based on the user's Spotify history.

Music starts playing as soon as you launch the app, then you can choose from a list of several preset stations. Like in Spotify proper, premium subscribers get unlimited skips and ad-free listening, while non-paying listeners can use the free ad-supported version which comes with limited skips.

Aside from the personalized content, the Stations app also serves popular playlists from the main Spotify platform, including Discover Weekly, Favorites, and Release Radar.

Stations is a free download for iPhone and iPad available from the App Store. [Direct Link]

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tag: Spotify

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TomTom Revamps iPhone App With CarPlay Support, Lane Guidance, Offline Maps With Weekly Updates, and More

Dutch company TomTom today announced that it has significantly revamped its iPhone navigation app with several new features, including customizable offline maps with weekly updates, lane guidance, and CarPlay support. The app has also been renamed from TomTom GO Mobile to TomTom GO Navigation.


The offline maps are available on an à-la-carte basis, meaning that users can download maps only for the regions they need to save storage space. TomTom says the maps will automatically receive weekly updates to help users avoid newly blocked lanes, active road construction, and other traffic delays.

CarPlay support enables users to access the TomTom app from their dashboard display in vehicles equipped with Apple's software platform, complete with new lane guidance functionality that helps users avoid missing turns and last-second merges by zooming in on their lane as they approach an intersection or exit.


Unfortunately, the iPhone app's route bar is not available on CarPlay at this time:


TomTom GO Navigation also provides point-of-interest search, real-time traffic conditions, speed camera alerts, and other services.

TomTom GO Navigation is available in the App Store and is expected to launch on Android later this year. The app offers a free trial, followed by one-, three-, and six-month subscriptions for $1.99, $4.99, and $8.99 respectively.

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tag: TomTom

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Apple Says iOS 13 to Bring ‘Biggest Update to CarPlay Yet’

As part of its iOS 13 unveiling today at WWDC, Apple announced what it called "the biggest update to CarPlay yet."


The new version of CarPlay will feature a new interactive dashboard and a more advanced in-vehicle version of Apple Maps.

The Calendar and Music apps have also been redesigned to improve the user experience, while Siri will be able to deliver directions and music from third-party apps like Pandora and Waze.

More to follow...


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Review: 2019 Subaru Forester Pairs CarPlay With a Great Multi-Display Infotainment System

Subaru is experiencing growing popularity in the U.S., developing a strong reputation based on emphasizing safety, all-wheel drive operation, and technology. The redesigned 2019 Subaru Forester is no exception, offering standard all-wheel drive, a roomier cabin, and new DriverFocus technology that uses facial recognition and monitoring to not only save your driver presets but alert you if it detects drowsy or distracted driving.


The 2019 Forester includes Subaru's STARLINK infotainment system with standard CarPlay support, with lower-level models coming with a 6.5-inch screen while higher-level trims are upgraded to an 8-inch screen.


I've had a chance to spend some time with a top-of-the-line 2019 Forester Touring in Horizon Blue Pearl, so read on for details about how all of the technology comes together for iPhone users.

STARLINK Infotainment


Subaru's STARLINK Infotainment systems offer all of the functionality you'd expect, starting with AM/FM radio with HD support, SiriusXM, USB and Bluetooth media device support, hands-free phone connectivity, and a CD player. All trims also include support for CarPlay, Android Auto, and app integration with Pandora and Aha. They also support cloud apps like Yelp, iHeartRadio, Magellan, TomTom, and more.

Subaru's STARLINK home screen

The base, Premium, and Sport trims all come with a 6.5-inch display, although the Sport trim can be upgraded to the larger 8-inch display. The Limited trim gets the 8-inch display standard with an optional upgrade to embedded navigation from TomTom, while the Touring trim gets the 8-inch screen and navigation standard.

Embedded TomTom navigation

Subaru has gone all-in on displays in the Forester, with my Touring model featuring three separate screens. Aside from the spacious 8-inch main screen on the center stack, there's also a 4.2-inch digital display as part of the instrument cluster directly in front of the driver, which is standard on all trims. This display is customizable and is capable of showing a wide array of information from a digital speedometer to speed limit signs to fuel level to audio information and more. These instrument cluster displays are becoming increasingly common, and it's nice to see it included standard on the Forester.

Instrument cluster

What sets the Forester further apart from many other cars is the third display, located in a housing protruding from the dashboard at the top of the center stack. This housing also includes an array of sensors for features like DriverFocus that I'll talk about a bit later, but the 6.3-inch display included here on higher trims is a fantastic addition.

Dual screens showing audio and navigation information

While the main infotainment display is taken over by CarPlay, built-in navigation, or other functions, the upper display can offer an always-on view of other systems with a dense array of information. By default it shows basic information like the time, outside temperature, and current climate control settings, but the main portion of the display can show one of several different screens based on user preference.

Vehicle safety systems status

This display can show an overview of what vehicle safety systems are active, the current weather forecast, navigation information, audio information, a larger version of your climate settings and more. It will also intelligently change what it's showing based on what else is going on, such as temporarily showing navigation information when a turn is coming up.

Fuel economy screen

The color 6.3-inch display is standard on Sport and higher trims and an option on the Premium trim, but not available on the base trim. The base trim and the standard configuration of the Premium trim include a smaller display that offers more basic information about the vehicle.

Subaru has kept a full set of hardware climate controls, although the only visual feedback on the controls themselves are status lights for some of the buttons. Other visual indicators like temperature settings and fan speed are shown on the other screens higher on the center stack.

CarPlay


CarPlay, which requires a wired connection as in most vehicles, is a great experience on the large 8-inch display. It takes over the whole screen, but the extra multifunction display above still gives you access to other data from the vehicle. The screen is bright and colors are vivid, and touch responsiveness is great with no lag.

CarPlay home screen

Subaru thankfully includes a variety of hardware controls below the screen, so you'll be able to make many adjustments largely by feel.

CarPlay "Now Playing" screen

Large volume and tune/scroll knobs let you easily make those adjustments, while dedicated hardware buttons for various infotainment functions like radio, built-in navigation and audio track skipping let you quickly jump between functions. A prominent home button gets you back to the main Subaru screen from wherever you are.

Apple Maps in CarPlay

I really like the way the dual-screen setup gives you command of everything going on in the vehicle at a glance, minimizing the amount of time you need to take your eyes off the road. Apple Maps or Google Maps running in CarPlay can take over the large main display, while all of your other information including CarPlay audio track and album names can be seen simultaneously on the upper display.

Voice control button is at bottom left of left cluster

As usual, there is a voice control button on the steering wheel that lets you talk to the vehicle or Siri. When CarPlay is active, the steering wheel button can only activate Siri. But when you're out of CarPlay, you can activate Siri with a long press of the button or the Subaru system with a short press.

Ports and Connectivity


My Touring trim came with a number of USB-A ports for connectivity, including a pair up front adjacent to the smallish storage tray at the base of the center stack and two more on the rear of the center console for rear passengers. All four ports can deliver up to 2.1 amps, so they'll be able to charge even power-hungry devices like iPads fairly quickly.

Front USB ports and phone storage tray

All Forester trims include the front USB ports, but the base and second-level Premium trims require a $178 option to add the rear ones. The remaining trims include the rear ports as standard equipment.

USB ports on rear of center console

All but the base Forester trim offer in-car Wi-Fi hotspot support via LTE, which requires a separate plan through AT&T. Subaru does not offer a wireless phone charger as either standard or optional equipment on the Forester.

DriverFocus


For the past couple of years, Subaru has been pushing its EyeSight package of driver assistance technology features, which includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warnings, and lane-keeping assist. Those features are becoming increasingly popular across car manufacturers, and it's great that Subaru is now making its EyeSight package standard across all Forester trims.

Initial registration for DriverFocus

Subaru is also now taking things to the next level with DriverFocus, a feature currently available only on the highest-level Touring trim as a standard feature. DriverFocus uses facial recognition and monitoring to keep an eye on you while you're driving. If it detects drowsy or distracted driving, it will warn you with a chime and a pop-up message on the driver's display.

While some car manufacturers have focused on monitoring movements of the car to detect drowsy or distracted driving, whether it's drifting from your lane or making repeated sharp steering corrections, Subaru is trying to be even more proactive by actually watching to see if your eyes are open and on the road. It might sound a little Big Brother-ish, but your car isn't going to report you to the authorities or record your behavior, so it could prove to be a great safety feature and you can always turn it off.

Screen with green icon showing DriverFocus is active

Subaru acknowledges that the system isn't perfect and it can generate some false positives, which I did find in my testing. One time the car warned me to take a break when it apparently thought my eyes were starting to droop, but I think I was just squinting a bit into a bright sun. A couple of other times it warned me to keep my eyes on the road, once when I had a hand up to my face rubbing one eye and once when I was on a sharply curving highway exit ramp when it apparently thought I was looking away from the road when I was in fact looking ahead along the curve. Quick glances down or to the side won't trigger a warning, but if you have reason to look somewhere other than fairly straight ahead for more than a couple of seconds, you might get an alert.

Facial recognition lets the Forester greet you by name when you enter and remember your preferred settings

As a bonus, DriverFocus's facial tracking technology can also recognize you when you get in the car, greeting you by name onscreen and automatically setting your preferred seat and mirror positions and climate control options. Some cars make similar adjustments by associating preferences with a specific key fob being used, but Subaru is leveraging its DriverFocus technology to make automatic memory settings even more seamless.

Wrap-up


Subaru offers a solid infotainment system of its own, and the Forester really takes it to the next level with the dual-screen setup in the center stack. Layer the convenience of CarPlay on top of that and you've got some great options for entertainment, navigation, and more, all highly customizable.

I appreciated the abundance of high-powered USB ports in the front and rear, although the phone storage tray up front was rather small for my iPhone XS Max. Wireless charging would be a nice option to have as long as it works well and the price premium isn't too high, so hopefully that's something Subaru will add in the future. Other manufacturers have been hit-or-miss on this feature, but when done well it's a nice option to have.

The 2019 Subaru Forester starts at $24,295 plus destination, delivery, and other fees, with each successive trim level adding around $2,000 before the bigger jump to the top-of-the-line Touring model at $34,295. I do recommend bumping up to the 8-inch display if you can, as it's a great size for the main screen, but that'll push you up close to the $30,000 level on a Sport trim with option package.

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tag: Subaru

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Lexus RX Finally Getting CarPlay and Android Auto

Lexus today announced that CarPlay and Android Auto will be standard features in its new 2020 Lexus RX in the United States, marking the first time that either software platform is available in the luxury crossover SUV.


CarPlay and Android Auto will be accessible through an 8-inch touchscreen display that is standard in all models of the 2020 Lexus RX. A larger 12.3-inch split-screen touchscreen is available as an upgrade option. CarPlay appears to be wired, so the iPhone will have to be connected with a Lightning to USB cable.

The new RX will enter production in the third quarter of 2019, according to Lexus. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.


CarPlay provides convenient access to frequently used iPhone apps such as Phone, Messages, Apple Maps, Google Maps, Waze, Apple Music, and Spotify directly from the dashboard. The platform was introduced in 2014 and is now available in over 500 vehicle models in the United States, according to Apple.

Lexus and its parent company Toyota were among the last major automakers to adopt CarPlay, but the duo now offer Apple's software platform in nearly two dozen vehicle models, ranging from the latest Corolla to the latest Lexus LS.

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tag: Lexus

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Hands-on With Boss Audio’s Latest CarPlay Receiver (With Exclusive Deal for MacRumors Readers)

A couple of months ago, Boss Audio debuted its latest aftermarket CarPlay receiver, the BVCP9685A, offering a relatively low-cost way to add wired CarPlay (and Android Auto) to your existing vehicle.

The BVCP9685A is a double DIN unit with a 6.75-inch capacitive screen and a vertical strip of capacitive touch controls along the left side. With an external microphone and support for steering wheel controls and backup camera input when paired with proper auxiliary wiring, the BVCP9685A can integrate with much of the existing technology in your vehicle.


Boss Audio sent me a demo unit of the BVCP9685A to test out, and I've come away pretty impressed with its ability to deliver CarPlay functionality at a budget price point, which is currently even lower with an exclusive 5 percent discount code for MacRumors readers.


The BVCP9685A demo unit I received is a relatively self-contained package, hooked up to a standard AC power plug and a small external speaker. That makes it easy to test out the unit without needing to install it in a vehicle, which can be a bit tricky depending on your level of experience and the types of connections you need to make.


On the flip side, the demo unit doesn't give you the full experience, so this is more of a hands-on look than a complete review as I haven't been able to test its sound quality with a full car speaker setup, integration with steering wheel controls and rear camera, and some other features.

Overview


Boss's BVCP9685A offers a relatively clean look dominated by the large screen, although it does have a bit of a bottom bezel where there is some Boss branding and the model number. A strip to the left of the screen offers persistent access to capacitive mute, volume, Siri, and home buttons. The buttons are a little on the small side in a tradeoff with maximizing the size of the main screen.


The 6.75-inch, 800x480 screen is bright and fairly crisp, although it doesn't quite match the higher resolutions seen on some other more expensive systems. The touch buttons along the left side can be set to just about any color of the rainbow or allowed to cycle through a range of colors automatically, and separate color and brightness options can be set for day and night modes.


The main interface of the BVCP9685A consists of a set of tiles that offer access to the system's functions like radio, CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth hands-free calling, rear camera, and media player functions over Bluetooth, USB or an RCA AV connection on the rear of the unit. Small tiles also offer access to settings and an equalizer.

The overall look certainly isn't as polished as some infotainment systems, but if you're a CarPlay user you'll likely be spending much of your time in there anyway.

The radio app offers a large display of the current station and a couple of sets of forward and backward buttons to help navigate between stations on the dial and via presets. Other options let you switch between AM and FM, stereo and mono, local and distant station optimization, and more.


It's fairly easy to operate, although some of the options aren't necessarily intuitive such as the way tapping the option icons toggles indicators elsewhere on the display rather than simply changing a label on the icon itself. Tuning buttons also aren't explicitly labeled, although you'll quickly learn how they work once you start using them.


Playing media from an external device such as via Bluetooth is a similar affair, although I think the look of the media player screen is a bit better than the radio screen, with full track, artist, and album information as well as clear play/pause, track skip, and shuffle buttons along the bottom.

CarPlay


CarPlay and Android Auto require a wired connection on the BVCP9685A, which many users prefer considering they want to charge their phones while in the car, but for those who prefer wireless CarPlay that's starting to become more widely available in aftermarket units, you'll need to look elsewhere.


The BVCP9685A includes a pair of USB ports on short cables, one for CarPlay/Android Auto and one limited to charging and media playback, so you'll need to make sure you connect your Lightning cable to the right one. Once you're up and running with CarPlay, you'll find the usual experience with access to the default Apple apps, compatible third-party apps, and a dedicated Boss icon to take you out of CarPlay and back to the Boss system.


The screen is definitely smaller than some built-in infotainment systems that can go up to 8 inches or more, but within the limitations of the double DIN size standard, Boss has done a pretty good job of maximizing screen space. A few competitors have pushed their screen sizes to 7 inches by using skinny hardware buttons along the bottom of the unit, but Boss gets pretty close to that size while keeping buttons along the left where they're closest to the driver.

Overall, the CarPlay interface looks good on the BVCP9685A, with Maps being where you would most likely notice the difference compared to systems with larger screens, due to the mapping field of view and the various informational overlays. CarPlay is relatively responsive on the BVCP9685A, accurately registering taps and swipes.


In addition to the Boss icon on the CarPlay home screen, you can also use the main capacitive home/back button in the lower left corner of the BVCP9685A to jump out of CarPlay and over to the Boss system. That button can take you back into CarPlay, but only if it's the immediately previous screen you were on. If you switch over to the Boss system and then fiddle with radio settings, for example, you'll need to get back to the Boss home screen and then tap the CarPlay tile there to return to CarPlay.

Wrap-up


As an entry-level CarPlay receiver, the Boss BVCP9685A looks like a solid way to bring your iPhone to the dashboard in your existing vehicle. It doesn't include features seen on more (in some cases much more) expensive models like SiriusXM tuner support, a wireless microphone, a DVD/CD drive, or built-in navigation, but if what you primarily need is CarPlay you may not be interested in many of those missing features.

The BVCP9685A is currently priced at $239.99 on Amazon, but the exclusive MacRumors discount available through this link knocks $12.00 off of that through May 22. Boss is also currently offering a $35.00 on-page or in-cart coupon that is stackable with the MacRumors discount, bringing the final price down to just $192.99.

That's a fantastic price for a CarPlay aftermarket head unit, but do keep in mind when budgeting that depending on your install situation, you may need to pick up some extra equipment like wiring harnesses and perhaps pay for professional installation if you're not comfortable with cracking open your dashboard yourself.

Note: Boss provided MacRumors with a loaner demo unit of the BVCP9685A for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Related Roundup: CarPlay

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Some 2018 Lexus Vehicles Eligible for $199 Software Update to Add CarPlay Support

Lexus recently announced that it is bringing CarPlay to some older vehicles, following the launch of CarPlay in new 2019 Lexus vehicles last September.

CarPlay can be installed in the 2018 LS, LC, RC, RC F, and NX, and as pointed out by iPhone in Canada, the new CarPlay options are available in both the U.S. and Canada.


According to Lexus, 2018 and 2019 vehicles equipped with a Lexus Multimedia System can have an enhancement installed that adds CarPlay compatibility along with support for Alexa. A full list of eligible vehicles is below:

  • 2018 LS

  • 2018 LC

  • 2018 RC and RC F

  • 2018 NX

  • 2019 NX (produced before October 2018)

  • 2019 RC F (produced before October 2018)

  • 2019 ES, without factory navigation (purchased before October 2018)


Lexus says that it is "pleased" to offer the software enhancement for $199, and Lexus owners who are interested should contact their Lexus dealer for more information.

Lexus says that new software will be installed on the Lexus Multimedia System to add the CarPlay feature, and a Lexus dealer is required to install the update.

CarPlay is already available in select 2019 Lexus vehicles including the 2019 UX crossover and the 2019 Lexus ES.

Lexus and parent company Toyota were among some of the last major car manufacturers to introduce support for CarPlay, instead supporting the SmartDeviceLink platform from Ford and Livio.

The wide availability of CarPlay spurred Toyota to reverse course and support Apple's platform after all, and the first 2019 Toyota and Lexus vehicles with CarPlay were announced in early 2018.

Related Roundup: CarPlay

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Toyota Announces 2020 Prius Prime With CarPlay Support

Toyota today announced that CarPlay and Amazon Alexa support will be standard features in its all-new 2020 Prius Prime range in the United States.


Toyota states that CarPlay will come as standard across the full line of 2020 hybrid plug-in Prius models, so customers won't have to pay extra for Apple's in-car infotainment system. As in other Toyota vehicles, CarPlay remains a wired implementation in the 2020 Prius Prime.

Other new features include two additional USB-A ports for rear passengers, an additional fifth seat, black interior accents for a more premium feel, and a new sun visor extender.

Available this summer, the 2020 Prius Prime's suggested retail price for the LE grade will be $27,600, the XLE grade will be $29,500 and the Limited grade will be $33,500.

Other Toyota vehicles equipped with CarPlay include the 2019 Avalon, 2019 Corolla Hatchback, 2019 Sienna, 2019 Camry, 2020 Tacoma, 2020 Tundra, 2020 Sequoia, 2020 Corolla, 2020 Yaris Hatchback, and 2020 Highlander.

Earlier this week, Toyota announced plans to bring CarPlay to 2018 Toyota Camry sedans and 2018 Toyota Sienna minivans through a new retrofitting program that will be available through Toyota dealers.


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