CarPlay Google Play Music support now available

Google Play Music users can now access the app through Apple's CarPlay, with a new update quietly adding it to the short list of third-party services. The new version of Google's music app joins Amazon, Spotify, and a select few others with CarPlay support, with a much simplified interface promising to be easier and safer to access while on the move. You will, of course, need a CarPlay-compatible vehicle in order to actually use it, mind.

As with other third-party music apps available through CarPlay, Google Play Music has just its core functionality on display. First spotted by 9to5Mac, the app is split into categories for browsing through your own music library, playing your recent tracks, and digging through the service's recommendations. Finally, there's a Stations section for Google Play Music's custom playlists, based on genre and activity.

Apple has taken a conservative – some might say too conservative – approach to what it allows into CarPlay's walled garden. Only a small number of apps have been permitted through, despite frequent requests by many users for in-car versions of the their favorite apps. Music is the best served category on that front, with more than ten third-party streaming radio and on-demand services supported.

That hasn't gone down well with those who would rather use alternative phone, messaging, or navigation apps to those Apple would prefer: its own dialer, Messages, and Apple Maps. One of the most frequent demands is for a version of Google Maps for CarPlay, closely followed by Waze. Users of IM apps like Whatsapp have also regularly asked for support while they're behind the wheel.

Come iOS 11, CarPlay will see a number of improvements, though most will focus on Apple Maps. There, Apple will add things like lane guidance during navigation, with the app showing which lane the driver ought to be in for an upcoming turn, together with speed limits for the current area. Alternative routes will also be presented in a more user-friendly way, such as when there's unexpected traffic in the road ahead.

Potentially most disruptive, though, is a new "Do Not Disturb While Driving" setting. A fresh addition to CarPlay in iOS 11, it will mute any incoming notifications – bar those from whitelisted priority contacts – in the name of minimizing distractions. Anybody sending a message to a device in this mode will receive a reply informing them that the recipient is on the move.

MORE: Learning to love CarPlay

What there won't be, though, is any sort of open-season for third-party apps that want to get into the dashboard. Apple's policies on this are still pretty much opaque, something which has already nudged some over to Android, where Google's Android Auto has proved more receptive to allowing apps into its UI-controlled interface.