- You can pair your iPhone to your car in a number of ways.
- You can connect wirelessly via Bluetooth, connect your iPhone with CarPlay, or plug the iPhone into the car's auxiliary USB connection.
- Pairing your car with your iPhone is the same as pairing any other device to your phone, but you may need to do it with your car in park, since most cars disable pairing when the car is in motion.
- If your car is equipped with Apple CarPlay, your car delivers an enhanced iOS-like experience when using your phone features while driving.
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Gone are the days when you had to make do with your car's built-in radio. One of the great joys of the smartphone age is that you can pair your iPhone with your car's infotainment system and use it to play music, listen to podcasts, get navigation information, and more.
The connection process varies depending upon what kind of car you have and what infotainment system it includes, but the overall process is similar regardless.
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How to pair your iPhone to a car with Bluetooth
1. Make sure that your iPhone's Bluetooth is turned on. Pull down the Control Center from the top right or bottom of the iPhone's screen and toggle the Bluetooth icon. It should be illuminated in blue.
2. With the iPhone in your car, start the engine and leave it parked (most infotainment systems won't let you change settings if the car is in motion).
3. Start the car's Bluetooth pairing mode. It's usually located in the setup menu, but you might need to check your car's user guide for details.
4. On your iPhone, start the Settings app and tap "Bluetooth."
5. In the "Other Devices" section, tap the entry for your car when it appears. You might need to enter a passcode and confirm the selection on the car's display.
You should now be paired. When you set the car to the Bluetooth input, your phone should connect automatically and play through the car's speakers.
How to pair your iPhone to a car with CarPlay
CarPlay is Apple's infotainment system that is designed specifically for iPhones. The CarPlay interface on your car's display is designed to look and work like iOS, and it makes it easy to access iPhone features using the car's interface.
Connecting to CarPlay is extremely simple, though you'll almost certainly need to connect with a USB cable. Very few cars offer CarPlay via Bluetooth.
1. Connect your iPhone to the car using the car's USB port and a Lightning cable.
2. If your car doesn't automatically switch to CarPlay mode when it senses your iPhone, start CarPlay mode manually. You might need to check your car's user guide if you don't see the CarPlay button.
How to connect your iPhone to a car with USB
CarPlay usually relies on USB for connection, but even if your car does not have CarPlay, you can usually connect your iPhone with the USB cable anyway – you just won't get the snazzy CarPlay interface.
Just plug a USB cable into the car's USB ports and the iPhone's Lightning port. In most cases, the car's infotainment system will automatically switch to the USB input. If it doesn't, manually switch to USB using the car's source control. You'll be able to play your iPhone's audio through the car speakers.
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Dave Johnson is a technology journalist who writes about consumer tech and how the industry is transforming the speculative world of science fiction into modern-day real life. Dave grew up in New Jersey before entering the Air Force to operate satellites, teach space operations, and do space launch planning. He then spent eight years as a content lead on the Windows team at Microsoft. As a photographer, Dave has photographed wolves in their natural environment; he's also a scuba instructor and co-host of several podcasts. Dave is the author of more than two dozen books and has contributed to many sites and publications including CNET, Forbes, PC World, How To Geek, and Insider.