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Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; What You Need to Know.

The days of flicking through the user manual of your new car to accomplish the most simple of tasks are coming to an end. Technology giants, Apple and Google are bringing their familiar user interfaces to the dashboards of the world’s latest cars.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not dedicated in-car systems but are quite simply, user interfaces that can override the often confusing software built into the latest vehicles. If a driver were to plug their iPhone into their compatible car, they would be given the option to use a familiar Apple iOS interface on their dashboard.

Both systems integrate the basic features of typical smart phones allowing drivers to make phone calls, send and receive text messages, play music and of course, use the phones navigation systems. The interfaces will rely on the integrated touch screens but encourage the use of voice recognition and steering wheel controls to emphasise the safety benefits of their familiar, user friendly software.

A small number of 3rd party apps are available with CarPlay but are required to meet a certain safety criteria, meaning you’ll be able to download apps to listen to podcasts, audio books and personalised radio but (for obvious reasons) you will not be able to play Angry Birds whilst at the wheel.

So far, 40 manufactures are producing over 100 models compatible with the software and as models are refreshed and new models are introduced, CarPlay and Android Auto will become increasingly common. Current models to support CarPlay include the latest Honda Civic, the new Audi A4, the Volvo XC90 and most models across the VW line-up. Almost all Ford models will support CarPlay following a software update later this year.

If you are not looking to upgrade your car in the near future or have recently purchased a car which does not support CarPlay or Android Auto, there are various aftermarket solutions available. Companies such as Alpine, JVC, Kenwood and Pioneer have all created systems capable of bringing your CD player into 2016.