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How to develop an app for Apple CarPlay?

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New technologies always provide a wide range of opportunities to optimize existing solutions or to develop new ones. According to Forbes, only 2% of the 23 million vehicles on the road can run applications. It is worth noting that it is easier to gain popularity and find your audience in a market that is just emerging. The connected car industry is projected to add another 24 million vehicles. Therefore, if you are not limited to developing apps only for smartphones or smartwatches, you are on the right track.

As we all know a car was no longer a means of transport it is more lifestyle, new opportunities and etc. Most vehicles are equipped with on-board computers and a huge display that allows their owners to use navigation options without the need to install the additional device in a car or they can turn a car salon into a cinema for all family members while going to the vocation by car.

The use of an iPhone and a car in the bundle provides great user experience and makes the trip safer.

After WWDC 2020 they can say that multiple changes to vehicles are coming with updated CarPlay in iOS 14 so we decided to look in detail what is coming to users with iOS 14 and how it will impact their daily commutes and road trips. 

Apple takes care of the users and offers CarPlay as a safer way for people to use iPhone in the car. In the meantime, it has become possible to create apps for EV charging, parking, and quick food ordering. It is about time to enhance your user interface in audio and communication apps, etc.


What is CarPlay?

The CarPlay is a framework that provides a system-generated and hosted user interface that you configure to show content from your app. The framework supports control over UI (touch target size, font size, and color) and allows your app at the same time to display custom map tiles, trip and routing information, and so on. Such an approach lets you concentrate on providing a remarkable CarPlay experience without any need to create an app that would work with all CarPlay system.

Consider that you need to use SiriKit’s Messaging to ensure that reading and sending messages will work correctly if you want to add CarPlay support to your messaging app. For VoIP apps, you need to use CallKit with SiriKit’s VoIP Calling to ensure the ability to make and answer audio calls on a CarPlay system.

How to build an app with a CarPlay?

Apps that will be shown on the car’s built-in display should be optimized for the driving environment and meet the particular demands of the car. It would be perfect if the app supports brief interactions and never distract the driver. The content on the screen should be minimal, relevant, and easy for decision-making. A driver can control apps with Siri help so there are no need hands off the steering wheel or eyes off the road. Interface elements on iOS should provide an intuitive experience.

Before starting app development you need to obtain a CarPlay app entitlement. To get it you must create a query and provide information about your app, including the CarPlay app category. You must also agree to the CarPlay Entitlement Addendum. Apple company will consider your request and in case your app fits the criteria for a CarPlay app, you will get permission to create an app.

Below you find general CarPlay app guidelines that must be straight followed but there a special requirement for audio, navigation, and other apps that you need to consider while developing.

  1. Your CarPlay app must first fulfill its primary function (e.g. CarPlay audio apps must provide primarily audio playback services and then additional features, etc.). 
  2. Any instructions for users to take their iPhone to do a task are forbidden. In case of an error, the app should recommend reload or seek technical support after the come to a standstill.
  3. The user flows must be suitable to use while driving and be possible without iPhone usage.
  4. Gaming or social networking are not allowed. 
  5. The content of messages, texts, or emails is not permitted to show on the CarPlay screen. 
  6. SiriKit should be used for all voice interaction. 

To meet all these requirements is not so difficult but just imagen how many customers you will get via using new trends.

Development features for CarPlay

If you are looking for a vendor to develop a CarPlay app, just like creating a regular iOS app, get official Apple permission first. Getting permission to build your app isn’t everything. All the rules must execute the application and, in the future, is not blocked on the App Store due to some inconsistencies.

Developing a CarPlay app has some specific features when compared to building an iPhone app. Let’s take a look at the nuances that are worth paying attention to:

  • diagonals and extensions (there are many of them, not just a few);
  • approach to interface development: there should be less information, and more buttons, so that the user is comfortable to use while driving;
  • the design should consider that not all devices have sensors and should be able to control physical buttons. In other words, CarPlay also works with your car’s controls – knobs, buttons, touchpad, or touchscreen.

It is difficult to estimate in time how long it will take to develop an application from scratch since the number of functions and the complexity of the design directly affect this. However, we always recommend hiring a team of specialists to get a truly effective digital solution for application development. The team usually consists of the following specialists Business Analyst, UI / UX Designer, iOS developer (Swift developer), QA, Project Manager, Backend developer (PHP), if the application needs to have its own back.

So what happens next with cars and mobile devices?

We can assume that car screens will be used to a greater extent as second screens for devices, which, in principle, is already used on wearable devices.

This means that we will have two approaches:

  1. Standard mobile apps that will use infotainment systems as a second screen.
  2. Applications designed specifically for the car infotainment system.

We can expect to see more powerful System-on-Chip (SoC) solutions shortly, capable of delivering fast 4G data transfers, stunning graphics, enhanced GPS capabilities, and even some advanced features like motion tracking.

Developers who will be working with car apps have a good grasp of infotainment systems. The number of applications that can be considered useful in the car is limited. Aside from the essential apps that will be pre-installed on these systems anyway, there won’t be much room for standard mobile apps configured for infotainment systems. Games, fitness apps, outdoor apps, news readers, social apps – very few of these make sense in the car.

The second approach looks more complicated, but it may prove more profitable in the long run. There is no “killer app” specifically designed to use the multitude of sensors on our phones that integrates seamlessly with infotainment systems. After all, would you rather have a killer app running on 10% of all car systems deployed than the mediocre iOS app installed by 0.1% of iPhone users? What if your team comes up with something beneficial and original, and eventually, the major automakers start pre-installing your application on their systems.

What niches should you pay attention to when developing, provided that the standard directions such as navigation and ringing are already filled enough:

  • Traffic safety.
  • Safety and liability insurance.
  • Fuel-saving applications.
  • Health and ergonomics.

Security is definitely a great selling point so that developers can focus on some aspects not covered by core applications. It all depends on how intelligent the infotainment system is, whether it is open correctly and whether there is room for improvement from the pre-installed standard solutions.


You might do so but it is better to make a new one that meets all CarPlay legal requirements. CarPlay apps are designed to look and feel like your app on iPhone, but with UI elements that are similar to the built-in CarPlay apps. It must be consistent with particular dimensions. If the application is intended to send and receive messages that you need to use SiriKit’s Messaging. SiriKit should be used for all voice interaction. The user flows must be suitable to use while driving and be possible without iPhone usage. Here are only some of the general requirements more you will find in the article.
The CarPlay is a platform that provides a system-generated and hosted user interface that you configure to show content from your app. It supports control over UI (touch target size, font size, and color) and allows your app at the same time to display custom map tiles, trip and routing information, and so on.
Before iOS 14 there were able only Google Maps and Waze as an alternative to Apple Maps. With a new operating system, the list of apps that can be used is extended. There are several types of applications that supported by CarPlay:
✅ Audio
✅ Communication
✅ EV charging
✅ Navigation
✅ Parking
✅ Quick food ordering.

To conclude

New Apple updates are providing great opportunities for many businesses. If you are a car manufacturer you may implement Apple technology to attract more audiences and get more loyal customers. If you have a restaurant business then you should consider building an app with integrated CarPlay where iOS users can order food in a simple way.

Customers adore getting a new user experience that is why it is vital to monitor new trends and improve your services and products according to it. As a development company, we keep cutting-edge technology – under the radar to provide our customers with high-quality development services.

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