Apple is boosting CarPlay with a slew of new options. iOS 12, the software update released earlier this month, brings extended support for the iPhone’s in-car user interface, with big buttons designed for use with a car’s interactive display. This week, Google Maps and Waze rolled out updates that bring the apps to CarPlay for the first time, with Chinese firm Baidu also expected to roll out support.

The company first released CarPlay in March 2014 with the release of iOS 7.1. The launch was the culmination of years of development time, working with automakers to ensure wider market support and hardware compatibility. The feature enables users to control their phone through a car-friendly interface. The interface enables the use of Apple’s own apps like maps, music, messaging and more, while third-party apps like WhatsApp and Spotify have rolled out support.

Until iOS 12, though, drivers were stuck using Apple’s own maps solution. While it’s improved since it first replaced Google Maps with iOS 6 — a botched launch that preceded Scott Forstall’s resignation and led to Apple issuing an apology — hands-on impressions suggest Google’s wealth of data accumulated over the years places it in a better position for driving around small towns.

Apple has finally granted drivers the option to choose their mapping system. Beyond Google Maps, users can opt for Waze, a traffic-focused navigation system that alerts drivers of upcoming issues and chooses routes based on fuel efficiency. Users can also choose Baidu’s mapping system, developed by the Chinese multinational firm as part of its suite of internet services.

Waze W10 Event
Waze is now an option on CarPlay.

iOS 12 CarPlay: How to Use

Apple boasts CarPlay support in over 400 models of vehicle. A wide array of models from Audi, Chevrolet, BMW, Hyundai and more include direct support for CarPlay. The system also works with a number of aftermarket entertainment systems, from the likes of Alpine, Pioneer, JVC, and Sony. Not everyone made the list, however, with Tesla a notable holdout for support.

CarPlay is also limited to a number of iPhone models. The iPhone 5 and newer is supported, but iOS 12 only runs on the iPhone 5S and newer, leaving the 5 out in the cold for new navigation options.

Getting started is as easy as either plugging in the Lightning cable, or connecting wirelessly by visiting “Settings,” then “General” then “CarPlay.” The feature does require Siri active.

iOS 12 CarPlay: Downloading Apps

CarPlay doesn’t have its own app store. To install new apps, download the relevant iPhone app that supports CarPlay. Apple announced support for Google Maps, Waze and Baidu at the 2018 Worldwide Developers’ Conference, but there’s the potential for further navigation apps to join later.

On the iPhone, visit “Settings,” then “General” then “CarPlay” to add or remove icons from the main navigation screen. Because CarPlay is a method of controlling the iPhone, you aren’t transferring or removing apps from the car itself. The system uses the iPhone’s storage, the apps are stored there, and adding and removing icons isn’t going to change anything except the icons that appear on the CarPlay screen.

Apple’s changes may make a small difference to the journey, but it means users can choose to utilize whichever services they feel most comfortable with.