Apple is adding a long-needed music-sharing feature to Apple CarPlay that will improve the experience of road trips and late-night drives with friends.

Apple CarPlay is an extremely useful way to use all the most important features of your phone while driving. It displays these features including navigation, music sharing, messaging, calls, and more all on your car’s entertainment screen.

This feature and Android’s equivalent called Android Auto are now essentially ubiquitous in modern cars. More than 800 models of cars from pretty much all of the major automakers support Apple CarPlay (either wired or wireless).

CarPlay is great for most things but it has one particular flaw that can be incredibly annoying for those who ride with friends or family often. It is often ridiculously difficult to let everyone in the car take turns playing their choice of music or other audio like podcasts or audiobooks.

Before Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and even basic Bluetooth connections were widespread, most drivers just used the auxiliary port (also known as the AUX port) to play music. This was great for music sharing as it was as easy as unplugging and ‘passing the AUX’ to a passenger.

Now that most modern phones don’t have a headphone jack (which the AUX cable plugs into), this is mostly defunct. This was great for eliminating the mess of cables but it also made music sharing harder.

Users have to pass around the driver’s phone, which may not have the same music or music app downloaded or easily available, to add songs to the queue. Some users even try to swap the Bluetooth connection to another passenger’s phone when the car is parked to hand over the virtual AUX.

How is Apple’s SharePlay Improving the CarPlay Experience?

Apple didn’t announce a ton of new artificial intelligence integrations at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) Monday. Instead, it announced one game-changing product, the Apple Pro Vision AR headset, and a ton of new features and additions to its current products and operating system.

One of the most interesting of these additions is SharePlay integration with CarPlay, making music sharing in the car easier than ever.

When the driver connects their iPhone to Apple CarPlay, any other iPhones in the car will automatically be asked to ‘join the session.’ All you have to do is tap ‘Connect’ and all connected parties can easily choose what music or audio content to listen to and control playback.

SharePlay isn’t a new feature on its own. It was actually added to iOS 15 in 2021, but it is only being added to Apple CarPlay now. SharePlay also lets you connect with friends on FaceTime and iMessage, allowing you to synchronously watch shows or movies and even play games with friends.

SharePlay will also now be accessible as a standalone experience without FaceTime or CarPlay. iPhone users can now instantly connect with each other to start their shared experiences like synchronous music streaming or even streaming on and other supported platforms.

While this update to CarPlay and SharePlay is nice, it may be difficult for Apple to keep up with Google’s innovation in the car software industry. While Apple is adding a feature or 2 here and there, Google is building an entirely new Android OS for its automaker partners.

This new OS, called Android Automotive, is already seen in certain models from brands like Polestar, Honda, Volvo, Chevrolet, and Renault. It’s quickly spreading across the industry like wildfire. This will provide many of the benefits of Apple CarPlay but to an even greater extent.

Integrations with Android apps like Google Maps, Google Play, and Google Assistant will likely become much more powerful than all the apps in Apple’s CarPlay.

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