Do Wireless CarPlay adapters actually work? I bought two cars a few years ago. The Honda Civic came with wired Apple CarPlay. The Honda HR-V had a basic entertainment system that I upgraded with an Alpine unit with Wireless CarPlay. I really wanted Wireless CarPlay in the Civic, but replacing its entertainment system was too disruptive. Now there’s a solution for turning standard CarPlay into Wireless CarPlay…
[Update August 19, 2022: iOS 16 continues to allow wireless CarPlay adapters to work fine!]
There are a handful of adapters that claim to turn CarPlay into Wireless CarPlay for around $100. Compatibility with specific car makes and models is the tricky part though. My first order for a Wireless CarPlay adapter was canceled by the vendor last year due to concerns with compatibility. A friend had a positive experience with an adapter he tried in his 2016 Chevy Volt, however, so I recently took another shot at trying one myself.
I used a CarLink adapter for my 2017 Honda Civic. My expectations were really low. I didn’t expect it to work, but it was worth the cost to experiment. Turns out the product is nearly perfect!
Setting up the adapter is no harder than pairing with Wireless CarPlay. Connect the adapter to your car’s USB port that powers wired CarPlay, then pair your iPhone to the adapter over Bluetooth from the Settings app.
I tried the adapter when it arrived just to check if it paired. I had a total surprise-and-delight moment a few days later. I took a short drive across town with my iPhone in my pocket without thinking about the adapter, and CarPlay just appeared on my screen automatically.
Expect some latency
Perfect! Well, almost. From my experience driving with standard and Wireless CarPlay, I know to expect latency when using steering wheel controls to skip tracks.
The important thing is that steering wheel controls for volume, track skipping, and voice input actually work.
Wired CarPlay versus Wireless CarPlay using the adapter
Latency aside, there is one other issue I’ve experienced using the adapter.
Standard CarPlay takes over if you connect a Lightning cable
Standard CarPlay in my car doesn’t display boxes around on-screen content like cars with physical controls for selecting content without touch input. Wireless CarPlay using the adapter does show these boxes around buttons, however, but I don’t mind.
Wireless CarPlay adapter
The upside is that the adapter receives firmware updates! There may actually be one already available, but I didn’t have the patience to run it during setup. I’ll update the piece if it resolves either issue.
In the meantime, I’m incredibly happy with the CarLink adapter. I highly recommend trying this adapter or one similar if you already have CarPlay but wish it was wireless.
The price can be much more affordable than buying an aftermarket Wireless CarPlay head unit and paying for installation. The adapter currently ships for around $90 with a coupon code from Amazon.
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