The CarPlay Settings Disconnect

Like many of you, I spent part of my weekend setting up my new iPhone 14 Pro. For the last couple of years, I’ve used the direct transfer method, and it has yet to let me down. It took several hours, but when the transfer was done, my iPhone 14 Pro was identical to my outgoing 13 Pro.

Well, that’s not quite true, because 8 years into the CarPlay era, its settings still do not come over to a new phone during a migration. When I hopped in my truck on Monday, I had to take a few minutes to get everything back the way I want it.

To be fair, CarPlay doesn’t have that many settings. The primary options are what apps you’d like to see in your car, and what order they should be in. Past that, there are a few other settings, like options for the wallpaper and Siri suggestions.

I don’t understand why this has been carved out as an exception when it comes to migrating to a new iPhone. It’s a bit frustrating in the light of how good Apple has gotten at iOS migrations.

While we’re here, I’d also like to officially complain about CarPlay’s insistence in treating each car as their own unique butterfly. In addition to CarPlay in my truck, we have it in my wife’s minivan. iOS treats them as individual connections, each with their own settings. That means if I switch podcast apps or change a setting, and want things to be the same between the two cars I drive, I have to adjust things a second time.1 CarPlay should have an option to let the phone drive the experience, so things can be consistent across vehicles.

Back when CarPlay launched, it was pretty rare to come across it, so I can see why Apple opted to have each car an iPhone interacted with be unique, but today, just about every new car comes with it. It’s time to address some of the shortcomings and really make setting up and using CarPlay as polished as the rest of iOS.2

  1. I just realized that I’ll have to set CarPlay up from scratch on my new phone next time I get in the van. Sigh. 
  2. Especially if Apple wants CarPlay to take over the whole interior of a vehicle. Imagine upgrading your iPhone ten years from now, and your car forgetting where the speedometer is supposed to be.