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Waze (and Google Maps) coming to Apple CarPlay

  • Third-party navigation comes to iPhone's Apple CarPlay
  • Introduced with iOS 12, Waze and Google to follow shortly
  • Easy installation and voice control

Apple's latest iPhones - the XR, XS and XS Max - came with the announcement of the 12th version of the iPhone's operating system, iOS.

Significantly for drivers, the latest release of iOS adds support for third-party navigation in Apple CarPlay - and two major providers provide alternatives to Apple's own Maps app.

Apple iPhone 7 Plus connected to Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross SDA Smartphone display

Predictably, Google Maps also supports CarPlay under iOS 12, and is already available - but arguably of more interest to many drivers, the dynamic live traffic, incident and hazard reporting of Waze is available now.

Google Maps via Apple CarPlay

Can I upgrade to IOS 12?

The initial release of iOS 12 has been available since 17th September 2018, and as always, it's a free download and will be available to all supported iPhones regardless of network.

You can download it by connecting to WiFi and ensuring you have over 50% battery, or better yet, are plugged into a power supply.

It's also possible to download it via iTunes on Mac OS or Windows. Apple will notify you when you connect your iPhone to your computer; you may need to open iTunes if you've disabled automatic connection. It's also possible to take a backup of your phone before upgrading when doing it this way.

iPhones supported by iOS 12

Apple introduced 64-bit iPhones with the 5S in 2013, and ceased supporting the preceding iPhone 5 and 5C with iOS 10 in 2016. Despite the age of the iPhone 5S, it supports Apple CarPlay just as well as the current models.

  • iPhone 5S
  • iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
  • iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
  • iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone XS and XS Max

If your car has a WiFi hotspot installed, you can also use a sixth-generation iPod Touch; without a data connection most navigation apps won't work.

Will my older iPhone with CarPlay be updated to support third-party apps?

No, at least, there's no indication it will.

Although Apple CarPlay was launched in 2014 with iOS 7.1, 32-bit iPhones with Lightning connectors (the 5 and 5C) won't be updated as they only support up to iOS 10 - third-party app support is part of iOS 12.

How do I enable the apps, then?

It's remarkably easy, as when updated it should automatically appear on your CarPlay display. If it hasn't, or if you want to rearrange the layout of icons on your screen - you can add, remove and move icons by going to the Settings application, then General > CarPlay menu and select your car from the list presented. If you only use CarPlay with one vehicle it should be obvious.

Apple iOS 12 settings - general - CarPlay - choose car

Alternatively you can go to CarPlay settings while in the car and connected via USB or, if supported, WiFi, and it'll jump straight to your setup.

Connect to car via USB

You can rearrange icons on the main screen, showing the mirrored infotainment display layout, and below there is - or will be - a list of apps you can add. You may already have used this if you have Spotify, Amazon Music or other third-party media apps.

iOS 12 add Waze to Apple CarPlay - mockup - expected layout

How does Waze work with CarPlay?

Like any other Apple-approved app, consistency is key - Waze works with voice control via its own icon - though it's possible to configure Waze to respond to 'Hey Waze' if you have Hey Siri switched on. You can start Waze via Siri, or open it on the phone for more advanced route planning and then have the route and alerts shown on the infotainment screen - a text overview of the route is displayed on the iPhone.

Waze on Apple CarPlay in Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Most interaction is possible via the touch screen or hardware interface of your car - there are a limited number of voice commands as provided by Waze before CarPlay support, at present.

Asking Siri for navigation will start Apple Maps - it's necessary to choose Waze and then ask for guidance in the app. That may change with user feedback.

Crucially, navigation to shortcuts, favourites and reporting of hazards can all be done via voice control - but it's quicker to use touch controls on cars like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class shown here.

Apple CarPlay Waze Hazard reporting

Apple CarPlay Waze Hazard reporting

iOS? Android Auto has had Waze for ages!

True - and at Parkers, we've tested Android Auto on various handsets and in-car systems; Waze itself has proven reliable and efficient if you can get it to behave, but Android's behaviour is best considered 'inconsistent' - most attempts to get Android Auto to quickly, easily display the menu for third-party navigation end up in frustration.

Waze on Android Auto - Screenshot - Smartphone

We're not out to start a platform war, but Apple's CarPlay is considerably smoother and consistent across all devices - and that's why support for Waze and Google Maps is so important, for user experience and safety alike.

And MirrorLink with Ford Sync 3 and Fiat Panda Waze?

Yep, Ford owners with iPhones have been able to enjoy Waze on their infotainment system ahead of iOS 12, thanks to MirrorLink support via Ford Sync 3. Fiat, on the other hand, have gone for a special edition Panda - the Panda Waze - in a fetching blue with urban crossover looks and a smartphone cradle on the dashboard. Their integration is building the car's infotainment into the smartphone, rather than the other way around - you can use any app you like.

Choose apps on Apple CarPlay - connected to car - Eclipse Cross