At the 2014 Geneva auto show, Mercedes-Benz demonstrated how Apple CarPlay works. With an iPhone 5 connected to the car's USB port, this icon-based interface was available on the car's center LCD. In the Mercedes-Benz, the driver would use a jog dial on the console to select functions and menu items.
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CarPlay is capable of using multiple screens for its icons, making it expandable. As of this demonstration, the only apps were navigation, messaging, phone, and audio. The four third-party apps also available were iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher, and Beats Music.
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For navigation, CarPlay uses Apple Maps. The maps appear bigger than they would on an iPhone, expanding to the size of whichever LCD is installed in the car. When browsing the map, it shows in plan view, but changes to perspective under route guidance. Although it is not possible to initiate navigation without being in a data connected area, routing will continue when passing through areas where the connection drops for brief times.
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CarPlay emphasizes voice command for most of its functions. For destination entry, you can talk to Siri, or choose from this list of recent and shared addresses. CarPlay will even pull addresses from emails and text messages, including them in this list.
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Route guidance takes into account traffic in similar fashion to Apple Maps and shows information about upcoming turns.
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When accessing Siri, the same wavelength graphic appears on the car's LCD that does on the iPhone.
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For phone calls and messaging, CarPlay draws from the same contacts list stored on the phone.
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Just as on an iPhone, you can see recent text messages, ordered by date and listed by correspondent. However, the interface never shows any text messages. You can have Siri read a text message, and take dictation of text messages to be sent.
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Podcasts can be selected from the Podcasts app.
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The audio app defaults to iTunes Radio stations.
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The audio apps lists Apple's standard music library categories, such as artist and album name. Along with choosing music from these lists, you can also request them by voice from Siri.
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The playback screen overemphasizes the play and skip controls. Album art appears as a subtle background for each track.
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The iHeartRadio app lists favorites and stations geographically close to the car but does not let you search for new stations.
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The nearby stations list works kind of like local radio.
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Mercedes-Benz C-class will be its first model to get the CarPlay feature, which should come out by the end of 2014.
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The standard Mercedes-Benz interface and functions are all still available with CarPlay.
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