Sunday, May 01, 2022

Almost as Good as Wired CarPlay

I've been running CarPlay in my car for a couple of years. I dedicated an old iPhone to this function and left it in the call full time. We run the car enough to keep it charged.

That worked very well. Every now and then the car's head unit wouldn't recognize the iPhone. Sometimes unplugging and replugging would fix it. Sometimes you had to turn off the car and restart it.

Nevertheless, it was very satisfactory.


My wife wanted to be able to call and text from her phone using the car's integration. The dedicated iPhone worked fine for that but presented a different phone number.

I had tried a wireless CarPlay dongle from AliExpress in 2019. It required me to download an app and install it in my car's head unit. Microsoft Windows Security pitched a fit when I downloaded that app and then it wouldn't install in my car's head unit.

Recently I gave it another try.

I ordered CarlinKit 3.0.

This time it worked almost flawlessly.

I say "almost" and that's not a big negative. Even wired CarPlay is not 100% dependable. This CarlinKit 3.0 is "almost" that dependable. The CarlinKit 3.0 disconnects more than the wired iPhone but not enough to be a real problem. When either CarPlay disconnects and reconnects, any trip in progress is terminated and has to be restarted.

CarlinKit 3.0 connects quickly, "almost" as quickly as the wired CarPlay.

The only thing I've found that is different from wired CarPlay is that CarlinKit 3.0 occasionally switches away from FM to CarPlay audio. But I'm not convinced that that is a CarlinKit 3.0 problem. Since I am no longer using a dedicated iPhone for CarPlay, my passenger uses the iPhone connected via CarlinKit 3.0 while we are driving. If the iPhone starts emitting audio, e.g. from an autoplay video, I think that triggers the switch. That would be a CarPlay issue, not a CarlinKit 3.0 issue.

Overall, it is worth the minor issues. Being able to use CarPlay for voice calls and text messaging is very valuable.

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