Google Maps has navigated its way to CarPlay, with Apple’s in-car infotainment interface opening up to Google’s app with the arrival of iOS 12. One of the most-requested features of CarPlay since it launched, it means no longer being forced to use Apple Maps when you hook your iPhone up to a compatible in-car infotainment system.
Back when CarPlay launched, its relatively closed ecosystem was billed as an advantage. Space on the dashboard, Apple argued, was not only valuable but had huge safety implications. Rather than allow a free-for-all of apps to colonize CarPlay, instead the Cupertino firm took a strict hand to what titles it would allow.
All well and good, but if you were a dedicated Google Maps user – or, indeed, a user of Waze or any other mapping service – it meant getting to grips with Apple Maps instead. Apple’s navigation software has improved significantly since its troubled launch a few years back, and looks set to get even better over the next few years as its data is made much more comprehensive. Nonetheless, it was an iPhone disconnect that left many drivers frustrated.
The news that iOS 12 would allow third-party mapping apps, therefore, came as a welcome relief. With the new version of the iPhone software released yesterday, Google wasted no time in pushing out an update to Google Maps in the App Store. That adds compatibility with CarPlay.
The navigation experience itself is the same as in the regular iPhone app. You can search for a destination and see multiple route options, as well as get live information on traffic jams, congestion, accidents, and other delays along the route. Saved lists from the Google Maps app can be accessed through the CarPlay UI, too, and if you’ve set up a workplace then it will offer commute navigation automatically.
Arguably more valuable, though, is the synchronization between Google Maps for CarPlay, the regular iOS app, and Google Maps in the browser. If you’ve searched for something on your laptop, for example, that should show up as an auto-suggested destination when you load up the app on CarPlay.
Google Maps for CarPlay also supports downloaded maps. If you’ve saved the data of an area in the app, you can still access navigation and get route guidance, even if you don’t have an active data connection.
The new Google Maps with CarPlay support is available to download now, from the App Store. You’ll need iOS 12 on your iPhone, of course, also a free download, together with a car – or aftermarket infotainment system – that has CarPlay support.