How To Use Carplay Instead When Using An Ipad Or Iphone In A Vehicle


If your car doesn’t endorse CarPlay, you can’t find the CarPlay receiver you want, or your one doesn’t support it very well, you can make a decent substitute on your iPhone or iPad. This is how. Once upon a time, you could use iTrip to send FM signals from your iPod to your car radio. CarPlay is almost incomparably better, but you can’t use it unless you have it.

There are things you can do if your car doesn’t support CarPlay or, surprisingly often, if the way it supports CarPlay is very bad and not like Apple. You can make your CarPlay control with your iPhone or iPad and either a mount for the windshield or a mount for the car vent. To be clear, this is a way around the problem.

CarPlay is a lot more than just a head for your iPhone. It is a system that connects Apple’s services to your car. So, for example, you can change the volume of your Music with controls built into your steering wheel. Or, if your iPhone gets a call, CarPlay can send the sound through your car’s speakers and send your voice back through the microphones in your car.

If you use a DIY workaround for CarPlay, you will lose this integration unless you develop creative ways to wire your car. But then you can use iOS while driving, which means that Apple Maps, Music, Podcasts, phone calls, and other things are just a tap away.

Depending on where you sit in the car, you might have to stretch a little further than you’d like to do that tapping. And the screen might be in the right place to show you Apple Maps, but you’d have to take your eyes off the road to scroll through Music. Safety is much more important than listening to good Music on a long drive to pass the time.

In some places, you also can’t put anything on your windshield, so be careful about where you put your iPhone or iPad. But there are a lot of mounts for iPads, like woleyi’s Dashboard Car Tablet Mount. Most have arms that can bend or extend to move the iPad or iPhone into a good position.

Want you to need

There must be a way for your device to connect to the radio in your car. If not, you’ll only be able to use the iPad or iPhone’s speakers, which might be fine on a quiet road but isn’t when there’s traffic. So you’ll have to figure out how to hook it up to the car.

If you can’t use Bluetooth, you’ll need a Lightning or USB-C cable to a USB-A cable. You might need to hook up to an audio-in port on your dashboard. We’ll let you handle this part. Aside from that, your iOS device has everything you need.

You are going to use:

  • Focus Mode
  • Shortcuts

Start with the Shortcuts

Even if you have never opened Shortcuts before, this will still be easy. What you have to do more than once is make a new Shortcut with one step and one action.

Here’s how to make one to play your Apple Music Favorites playlist:

  • Start a Shortcut
  • Make sure that My Shortcuts is chosen in the bottom left corner.
  • Tap the plus sign at the top right.
  • Tap on Shortcut Name to give this a proper name, like Play Favorites.
  • Now, click Add Action.
  • Enter the word Music in the Look for apps and things to do
  • Scroll to Media and tap on Play Music from the list that may be long.
  • This adds a line to the new Shortcut you made. Tap Music to tell it what you want.
  • Then, from the list that comes up, tap Listen Now.
  • Find the things you like. Mix
  • This is hard to find: tap the tiny plus sign in the upper right corner.
  • Now that the Shortcut is done, tap the Settings icon in the top right corner, next to the X, to close.
  • Tap Add to Home Screen.
  • If the Shortcut doesn’t already have a name, give it one. Then tap Add.

It takes a few steps to make a Shortcut to play a playlist, but most of the steps are the same for all Shortcuts. The only problem is that you’ll think it looks wrong once you’ve done it.

So, instead of Play Favorites Mix, the Shortcut says Play and then the name of a song on Apple Music. But it’s the first thing on your list of Favorites, and if you run the Shortcut and wait about three minutes, it does move to the next thing on that list.

So here you have an icon on your main screen that, when touched, starts playing your Favorites Playlist. Just make another one for something like “New Music Mix.” Or more complicated ones, like a Shortcut that opens Apple Maps and tells you how to get home. Then it would help if you had something else.

You can change the home screen.

If you just put tappable Shortcuts on the home screen of your iOS device, they will get lost among all the other apps. You could make a kind of meta-Shortcut, just a menu of all the CarPlay-like Shortcuts you want, but then you’d run into another problem.

Once you tap to start a CarPlay-like Shortcut, it works, and you’re stuck with it. When you leave the Shortcut, you return to the main home screen. There are ways to avoid running Shortcuts from within Shortcuts, but this is just for starting something and then going back home.

So all you need to do is change the home screen. And the new Focus Mode lets you do that. Start by making a new home screen. You can drag your new Quick access icon to the right until a new, blank screen appears.

Focus Mode is used to change the home screen.

  • Then, go to Settings and click on Focus.
  • Choose from the list of Focus Modes
  • Tap Home Screen under Options.
  • Activate Custom Pages.
  • Tap to choose one home screen from the ones shown.

You can only choose one. But if you do that, it could be the screen where all of your Shortcuts are. When you tap one to use it and then want to leave that Shortcut, you’re taken back to the home screen, but it’s a new one that only works with CarPlay.


When you have a home screen, you can also put widgets on it. There is nothing in a Widget you couldn’t do with a Shortcut, but they are more useful and easier to see. If everything is a Shortcut, all the icons on your screen will be the same shape. With a widget, on the other hand, you can add something like a contact.

It will show their faces and names; you can only tap on it to call or text them.

  • Hold down on an empty spot on the home screen
  • Tap the “+” at the top left.
  • Choose from the widgets that you have.

Nothing beats a CarPlay integration that is done well. But even the best ones can’t be changed as much as when you make your own.