The benefits of a wireless connection are obvious, and the most important is the extra convenience when launching Android Auto and CarPlay. Without a cable, you can keep the smartphone in a pocket or a backpack, so Android Auto and CarPlay can launch the moment you start the engine.
The adoption of wireless adapters has grown significantly since the debut of AAWireless, not long ago. CarlinKit, which converts a wired CarPlay connection to wireless, has been around for several years, but AAWireless brought similar capabilities to the Android Auto world, making this type of device more popular worldwide.
A new way to convert wired CarPlay to wireless
Called AutoPlay, the adapter has already received the necessary funding to enter mass production (though some backers claim they're yet to receive their devices).
AutoPlay has a very simple design that reminds of CarLuex, though at this point, most devices look similar and offer almost the same feature lineup with subtle differences.
AutoPlay debuted on Kickstarter earlier this year for crowdfunding support, with the company promising to ship the first units in October. Some backers claim they've received the adapter, others say they didn't, but the parent company says it has already started shipping it.
How it works
Setting up the connection takes only a few seconds, after which you should be able to run CarPlay without a cord. You must pair the phone with the wireless adapter after plugging it in the USB port. The rest of the process is straightforward and can be completed quickly.
The device works with any car that supports wired CarPlay, though the parent company says some models with wireless CarPlay, including BMW, won't be able to use it. This is more of a no-brainer, considering wireless CarPlay is already available in these cars and a dedicated dongle is no longer needed, but it's important to know that certain BMW models might be incompatible with the adapter.
Once configured correctly, the wireless connection should allow CarPlay to work whenever you start the engine. The process could take a few seconds, as the device must boot and establish the Bluetooth connection with the smartphone.
AutoPlay comes with a USB-C port to connect to the vehicle, and the box includes two cables to make sure it can work with any car. You get a USB-A to USB-C cable and a USB-C to USB-C cord.
The push for adapters
Like many other Android devices, the iPhone 15 series comes with a USB-C port, ditching the Lightning connector. It turns out that finding a high-speed USB-C cable to run CarPlay is more difficult than it sounds, with Apple users complaining of various connectivity problems in the car with the new smartphone. It's mainly because some USB-C cables are charging-only and don't support data transfers, making it impossible to run CarPlay.
Meanwhile, AutoPlay proposes a migration that also comes with its drawbacks.
I use CarPlay wirelessly in my car, not with an adapter but directly to the head unit because my car supports a no-cord experience. However, I still plug in the smartphone almost every time I get behind the wheel because it's the only way to arrive at the destination with a full battery. In other words, I still use a cable in my car, so despite having wireless CarPlay, my iPhone remains connected to the vehicle most of the time I am behind the wheel.
The only major benefit is that I can use a faster charger, as the USB port powering CarPlay is frustratingly slow. However, the cable is still there, and I'm sure most people who use CarPlay wireless still have a cord in the cabin.
If you want to give AutoPlay a try, it's available for at least $89 on Kickstarter, assuming the parent company does start shipping the device to backers. Make sure to drop us a line if you ordered the adapter and received it.