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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

iOS 9 Is Now Available; Wireless CarPlay And Other Improvements Included!

Apple released the much anticipated iOS 9 today and there are a lot of new features included. More interestingly, for us anyhow, CarPlay has also received a few performance tweaks. The highly anticipated wireless CarPlay feature is here too!

Full details on iOS 9 and CarPlay are below the page break.

iOS 9

Apple first announced iOS 9 at WWDC in June of this year. Although they didn't really go into much detail in their keynote, they did mention a few things here and there. Then last week at the September event, Apple said iOS 9 was finally ready for primetime and a September 16 release. And it's here!

There a couple of ways you can upgrade your iOS device to iOS 9. You can either connect to iTunes on your computer and do it from there or perform an over-the-air update directly from your device. You will need at least 50% battery charge or be connected to a power source and wifi.

The update process takes about 20-30 minutes depending on your internet connection. Make sure you back up your device either to iCloud or locally on your computer.

You will need at least 2 GB of free space on your device to update. This has been decreased by Apple recently where previous iOS version required at least 4 GB of unused space. The iOS 9 update file itself is a 1 GB download.

Feature list: You can see what's new in iOS 9 by tapping on Settings ---> General ---> Software Update ---> Learn More. A full list of features is available there. iOS 9 release notes can also be found at

CarPlay in iOS 9

The following CarPlay improvements have been added in iOS 9...

- Plays back audio messages, letting you hear from people in their own voices
- Full support for car knob controls, so you can tilt and spin to scroll through lists or pan around in Maps
- Support for CarPlay apps from auto manufacturers

The audio messaging feature is nice. The car knob controls should work in OEM systems now. In the aftermarket, it will be interesting to see if iDatalink Maestro will allow controlling CarPlay using dashboard controls.

I haven't been able to find more information on apps from automakers being CarPlay compatible. Apple's CarPlay page only mentions that apps from auto manufacturers are also compatible, but their app list is outdated and does not include any new apps that recently added CarPlay compatibility.

Wireless CarPlay

The mac-daddy of all CarPlay features is finally here. After balking a couple of times and not including the feature in two previous iOS versions, Apple has finally released Wireless CarPlay. The description on the device, under CarPlay settings, says CarPlay will work wirelessly only if your car supports it. No mention on aftermarket head units is made.

Apple had withheld wireless connectivity all this while because car hardware was not ready. Aftermarket head units will need a wireless hub to connect to CarPlay and I'm guessing current generation Pioneer or Kenwood head units won't be compatible. So we may have to wait for the next wave of devices for that.

Alpine's iLX-007 has a wireless chip in it but it wasn't apparently added with wireless CarPlay in mind. We will have to wait and see what happens there.

Other Features

Just a few other iOS 9 features worth mentioning. Apple says the battery life on iOS devices could improve by up to one hour in iOS 9. Apple has also included a low power mode to make your device last longer when the charge is low.

Also, the default keyboard now displays lowercase and uppercase letters depending on what you want typed. Multitasking has also been changed with a new layout to currently open apps. On the iPad Air 2, you can now use split-screen mode or picture-in-picture mode and browse two apps simultaneously.

There are massive improvements made to Siri too. The voice assistant is now more intuitive and is supposed to make fewer mistakes when listening. The Siri splash screen is also different.

One more interesting feature is in app switching. When you switch to an app by clicking on a pop-up notification, you get an option to return to your previous app by tapping on the left corner of the status bar. You will see "Back to _____ (insert previous app name here)" in that corner.

How does CarPlay work in iOS 9

I used CarPlay just briefly in iOS 9 earlier today. So far, I haven't come across any new issues. I was able to test out audio messages and it worked fine.

You can safely update to iOS 9 as far as CarPlay is concerned.

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