What's New in iOS 17 for CarPlay and Apple Maps Users

Apple will begin rolling out the next iOS version on September 18, providing users with a long list of improvements, including new CarPlay and Apple Maps features.
CarPlay is getting new goodies in iOS 17 34 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
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iOS 17 is a massive release that sports massive changes, including dual SIM improvements with support for setting different ringtones per SIM, updated in-call controls, interactive widgets on the home screen and lock screen, options for leaving a message when someone doesn't answer your FaceTime call, more natural Siri conversations, and pet support in the People album to create separate groups like those for friends and family members.

The iPhone maker has also prepared a bunch of improvements aimed at drivers using Apple Maps and CarPlay in their vehicles.

The changelog isn't as impressive as in the case of the rest of the operating system update, but every new feature is welcome, especially because Apple Maps struggles to become a more advanced Google Maps alternative.

What's new for CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay home screen
Photo: autoevolution
iOS 17 includes two big changes for CarPlay users.

The first one is the integration of SharePlay into CarPlay, allowing all passengers to control the Apple Music experience in the cabin. If you can't imagine how and when this feature would come in handy, think of a road trip when everyone in your car wants to listen to a different song. The driver no longer has to control the playback, as the other passengers, including people in the back seat, can use SharePlay to connect to CarPlay and control the Apple Music playback.

The second is a refreshed Siri design. If you've been using Siri for more than a few days, you probably know that the digital assistant is integral to the experience with CarPlay. Siri is in charge of everything happening on the screen, as you can interact with your apps hands-free.

Like Google Assistant on Android Auto, Siri reduces the driver's distraction, so you can configure navigation, play a song, and make a phone call without touching the screen.

iOS 17 introduces a new compact design for Siri. It doesn't cover a substantial part of the screen, so it doesn't block essential information like turn-by-turn directions while navigating. Apple integrated the new design specifically to allow for easier multitasking, as you can continue getting information from the running apps without Siri getting in the way.

Siri is also getting more natural interaction options, and instead of "Hey, Siri," users can trigger the assistant by saying its name.

What's new for Apple Maps?

Apple Maps offline maps
Photo: Apple via 9to5mac
Like CarPlay, Apple Maps receives two important changes.

Beginning in iOS 17, Apple Maps comes with offline maps. Navigating without an Internet connection has long been a top feature request, and it's great to see Apple finally responding to feedback. The company should have equipped Apple Maps with offline maps many years ago, especially because Google Maps already has this feature, and its purpose is to turn Apple Maps into a Google Maps alternative, but as the saying goes, it's better late than never.

Users can download offline maps with Wi-Fi or data connections and then navigate when the cellular signal drops. Apple Maps supports more than driving directions, as it can provide guidance for cycling, walking, and public transit.

Without an Internet connection, users will lose traffic information and up-to-date data, but Apple Maps will still show instructions to reach the destination. The application will also take a guess at the route's ETA using historical traffic.

Apple Maps EV routing
Photo: Ford
The other big improvement coming in iOS 17 for Apple Maps users is the updated EV routing.

Apple wants Apple Maps to be ready for electric vehicles, so the application will allow users to select a preferred charging network. Like Google Maps, Apple Maps will check nearby locations for information on charger availability. The data will be available on the map and in search results so users can filter locations by plug type, network, and other criteria.

It's not hard to figure out where Apple is aiming with this update. The company is working on its own electric vehicle, with people familiar with the matter claiming the launch could happen in 2025 or 2026. Apple Maps will be an essential driving companion and will be in charge of routing and other capabilities that will help address range anxiety. As a result, iOS 17 gives Apple two or three years of extra testing time, as the company can collect feedback from other users already running the app in their EVs to improve Apple Maps before its vehicle hits the streets.

iOS 17 has already reached the RC phase, with the production rollout scheduled to begin on September 18. The update will be available for the iPhone XS and newer, meaning that owners of older iPhone models, such as the iPhone 8 or the iPhone XS, won't get iOS 17. Without the latest version of the operating system, the changes I mentioned above will be unavailable, too, so the only way to get offline maps in Apple Maps is to buy a new iPhone.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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