We spend 101 minutes every day in our cars. We like to stay connected, but using your phone while driving is dangerous. In some jurisdictions, even using your phone while you’ve pulled over to the side of the road is frowned upon.
CarPlay is Apple’s solution to let you use the essential functions of your phone while you’re driving. Integrating with the car stereo, you can get directions, place and receive phone calls, send texts, and listen to media.
Third-party developers have started adding support for CarPlay. You can listen to books through Audible, catch up on podcasts using Overcast, text using WhatsApp, or take a call with Zoom. It’s a good (and welcome) start.
But there are more apps I want to use while I’m behind the wheel. So I routed a USB cable to my trunk and spent a week using CarPlay without being able to pick up my phone and cheat.
Here are the apps I regularly use that I really wish supported CarPlay:
- Blinkist. Blinkist is a book summary service. You can listen to short (approximately ten-minute) summaries of books. I don’t need to be able to browse the entire library in the car, but I would like to see what I’ve added to my library and pick one to listen to next.
- OmniFocus. I have a custom perspective for the errands I need to run. I would love to be able to bring that up in CarPlay and let OmniFocus guide me through the excursion. Throw in a couple of geotags, and OmniFocus really could give you directions to your next task. (Bonus points if the route is optimized.) (Bonus bonus points if the route is optimized for right- and left-hand turns.)
- Wunderground. I’d love to have the current temperature and immediate outlook on the CarPlay home screen, like what is shown on the watch complication. It would also be nice to get a heads-up of any nearby storms that are coming your way. Doppler radar and a forecast along your route? Yes, please!
- Drafts. Drafts has earned its place as one of the complications on my watch. I would love to give it an honored space on the first page of CarPlay apps. It just needs the same functionality as the watch app: open it and go straight to capturing a note. If you want to get fancy, let me see recently captured notes so I can append to them.
- YNAB. I’m not entirely sure why I want this one, but I want it. I get back to the car, start her up, and get an alert. “You’re leaving [this store you’ve bought things from before]. Would you like to record a purchase?”
- DayOne. Tag a location. Record a journal entry (Captain’s log) while you’re behind the wheel (at the helm). This is the sort of thing I think about doing while I’m driving but can’t do anything about it because I’m, well, driving.
- Deseret Bookshelf. If you play audiobooks, you should have a CarPlay interface so I can browse my library and make a selection. I’m looking at you, too, Gospel Library.
You can use Siri to create tasks in OmniFocus and notes in Drafts. For some apps and use cases, this could be enough. You don’t need the full functionality of an app while you’re driving, just the essentials.
Some applications really could offer a better experience by supporting CarPlay. The best tools are going to be available when you need them.
Most of all, keep your eyes on the road. No incremental gain in productivity is worth getting in an accident over.
What apps do you wish supported CarPlay?