Get more mileage out of your app with CarPlay

Description: CarPlay is a smarter, safer way to use your iPhone while you drive. Learn about the latest app types for CarPlay and discover how the CarPlay Simulator can help you develop and test apps without leaving your desk. We’ll also explore how navigation apps can connect with digital instrument clusters in supported vehicles.


CarPlay apps

  • primarily intended for drivers
    • only target uses cases relevant while driving
    • omit complex and less common use cases (e.g., one time configuration, log in, terms and conditions)
  • supported app types
    • navigation
    • audio
    • communication
    • EV charging
    • parking
    • quick food ordering
    • fueling 🆕
    • driving task 🆕


  • Templates are how apps in CarPlay present their UI
  • Your app supplies the data, and the system draws the UI onto the vehicle's display on your behalf
    • no need to worry about font sizes, consistency, etc
    • makes your app works in all cars

Different templates are available to different app types:

AudioCommunicationDriving taskEV chargingFuelingNavigationParkingQuick food ordering
Action Sheet✅✅✅✅✅✅✅
Tab bar✅✅✅✅✅✅✅✅
Point of Interest✅✅✅✅✅
Now Playing✅
Voice control✅

What's new

Fueling apps

  • similar to EV charging, but for fuel types
  • should be more than just finding locations
    • e.g., actions at the pump

Driving task apps

  • Enable a wide range of very simple tasks, targeting primarily the driver
  • These are tasks that actually help with the drive, not just a task to be done while you drive:
    • control car accessories
    • driving or road status and information
    • tasks to start or end of drives
  • Consider single-screen apps with minimal functionality
  • target tasks that can be completed in a few seconds

CarPlay Simulator

Ways to test your app:

  • Xcode Simulator
  • real iPhone in a real CarPlay car, or with aftermarket head unit
  • real iPhone with CarPlay Simulator 🆕

CarPlay Simulator:

  • standalone Mac app that replicates a CarPlay environment
  • Download it via Additional Tools for Xcode
  • Run your app, and connect your iPhone to your Mac with a cable
  • can debug on Xcode/Instruments
  • can test multiple card configurations (e.g. different display sizes)

Maps in instrument cluster

  • adding your map in instrument cluster is the same as adding yout map in CarPlay Dashboard (iOS 13+):
    • update Info.plist to declare support for Dashboard and implemented the required delegates
    • delegates notify your app when it is appearing and disappearing in Dashboard, and pass over a UIWindow to your app in which to draw your map content

In your Info.plist:

  <!-- Indicate support for CarPlay dashboard -->
  <!-- Indicate support for instrument cluster displays -->
  <!-- Indicate support for multiple scenes -->
    <!-- For device scenes -->
    <!-- For the main CarPlay scene -->
    <!-- For the CarPlay Dashboard scene -->
    <!-- For the CarPlay instrument cluster scene -->


extension TemplateApplicationSceneDelegate: CPTemplateApplicationInstrumentClusterSceneDelegate {
  func templateApplicationInstrumentClusterScene(
    _ templateApplicationInstrumentClusterScene: CPTemplateApplicationInstrumentClusterScene,
    didConnect instrumentClusterController: CPInstrumentClusterController
  ) {
    // Connected to Instrument Cluster
    TemplateManager.shared.clusterController(instrumentClusterController, didConnectWith: templateApplicationInstrumentClusterScene.contentStyle)
  // ...

  func instrumentClusterControllerDidConnect(_ instrumentClusterWindow: UIWindow) {
    // Window in which to draw instrument cluster contents 
    self.instrumentClusterWindow = instrumentClusterWindow

Considerations specific to the instrument cluster:

  • your view may not be entirely visible
    • override viewSafeAreaInsetsDidChange
    • use safeAreaLayoutGuide

Missing anything? Corrections? Contributions are welcome 😃

Written by

Federico Zanetello

Federico Zanetello

Software engineer with a strong passion for well-written code, thought-out composable architectures, automation, tests, and more.