If you've ever used Apple Maps in your car to get somewhere, you know how disappointing it can be compared to Google Maps for iOS. But if you want to use Google Maps with Apple CarPlay, you've been out of luck -- until this year.
At Apple's WWDC conference in June, CEO Tim Cook himself announced that the company is opening up CarPlay to more third-party app developers with the arrival of iOS 12, and he teased us with a photo of Google Maps in the CarPlay interface.
We don't know the exact day when Google Maps will come to Apple CarPlay (neither Apple nor Google have talked about it since the announcement), but we can tell you how to set it up when it arrives.
(Update: The latest version of Google Maps for iOS can now use Apple CarPlay, if your device is running iOS 12.)
How to set up your iPhone in your CarPlay-enabled car
First, you need a car that's compatible with CarPlay. Apple has a list of over 400 car models that you can check out on its website. To find your car, just press Ctrl+F on your keyboard to open a search box, then type your car's model name. Not all trims of every model are listed, however, and some trims may not have CarPlay support. So you may need to check your car's manual to confirm that you're ready to proceed.
In the event that your car's infotainment system doesn't support Apple CarPlay, you may be able to replace it with an aftermarket system that does. They cost a few hundred dollars from Amazon or an electronics store like Best Buy, but it may be worth checking out, if it fits your budget -- especially now that CarPlay is getting Google Maps support. Best Buy currently offers free installation for all of its aftermarket infotainment consoles.
Next, you need to physically connect your iPhone to your car, unless you're one of the chosen few who can do it wirelessly. For the rest of us, we need a cable that has a regular USB-A connector on one end, and a Lightning connector on the other.
The one that comes with your iPhone will do in a pinch, but we'd recommend something more durable in the long run. You can purchase an extra cable from Apple, but Amazon Basics cables may be the better choice here, because they cost a fraction of the price. A 3-foot cable should be long enough.
Be aware that not all USB ports in your car are guaranteed to be able to transmit data. Some may be designed to provide a charge only for your mobile device's battery. The ports in your center console should be able to transmit, though you may need to consult your car manual to make sure.
Once you've identified the right port, plug in your Lightning cable's USB-A end (it's the fat one), turn on your car's electrical system (or just fire up the engine), and wait for the car's infotainment system to finish loading.
When that's done, unlock your iPhone, connect the other end of that cable to your iPhone, then wait for the car's infotainment screen to recognize your iPhone. If you did everything correctly, your iPhone should be prompting you to confirm that you want to enable CarPlay, and the car's infotainment system should also ask you to confirm.
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How to access Google Maps in Apple CarPlay
After confirming on your phone and on your car's infotainment screen, there should be a CarPlay icon on the main menu of your car's infotainment screen. Tapping that will open the CarPlay interface. At this point, you may see an icon for a "Maps" app, but this isn't actually the one you want. That's Apple Maps. You need to swipe right to see your collection of third-party CarPlay apps.
The third-party apps are listed in alphabetical order, so it should only take one or two swipes until you find the Google Maps app, assuming that you've already downloaded the iOS version on your phone. Just tap the Google Maps icon on the car's infotainment screen to open the app.
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