Hands-On With Alpine's iLX-007 In-Dash CarPlay Entertainment System

While car manufacturers have been slower than anticipated to roll out support for Apple's in-vehicle CarPlay system, Pioneer and Alpine have delivered aftermarket options in the form of in-dash systems with CarPlay compatibility and large touch screens.

MacRumors has had a chance to spend some time with Alpine's iLX-007, which carries a suggested retail price of $800 but commonly sells for $600 and offers a 7-inch capacitive touch screen that dominates the unit's front. The only other physical features come as a thin row of buttons along the bottom edge, including a pair for controlling volume, one for activating Siri, one for returning to the Alpine home screen, and another pair serving varying functions such as changing tracks, depending on the app currently in use.

The basic Alpine home screen offers access to only a handful of functions including traditional radio, any peripheral devices connected to the system's auxiliary input including support for a rear back-up camera, and CarPlay devices. Upon connecting the unit's Lightning cable to an iPhone, the CarPlay interface automatically launches, allowing access to the standard Phone, Music, Apps, Messages, and Now Playing apps, as well as any CarPlay-compatible third-party apps the user has installed on his or her device and a Top Menu button to return to Alpine's main home screen.

alpine_carplay_home
In order to provide support for Siri input, the iLX-007 comes with a microphone that can be mounted in an appropriate location such as the driver's sun visor in order to pick up voice commands. CarPlay-specifc app settings within the main iLX-007 interface include the ability to set microphone level and noise reduction, as well as which speakers Siri's output come through.

With just a narrow row of physical buttons along the bottom of the head unit, Alpine has certainly maximized the available screen space on the iLX-007, squeezing in a 7-inch display that makes it easy to see content. The small physical buttons can, however, be a bit difficult to easily find by touch while keeping eyes on the road. The large icons and other interface elements inside the CarPlay interface itself are easy to hit, although the lack of tactile feedback means at least a glance is probably needed to ensure the correct area of the screen is being touched.

alpine_carplay_maps
As is to be expected, the CarPlay functionality on the iLX-007 is essentially the same as on other CarPlay systems, several of which have already been reviewed. The simple integration of having much of the phone experience appearing directly on the dashboard display in an easy-to-use format is a welcome addition, although certain aspects of the implementation leave something to be desired.

One fairly significant drawback that appears to be due more to Apple than Alpine is the lack of full support for multi-touch or even fluid scrolling input. While Apple may prefer to limit multi-touch availability in order to potentially reduce driver distraction while pinching or making other gestures that require a more extended glance at the dashboard display, scrolling is a much-needed feature for areas such as lists of contacts, music, and podcasts.

alpine_carplay_music
The iLX-007 clearly supports swiping input as seen in its own top-level settings (albeit with somewhat poor responsiveness), but within CarPlay users are essentially relegated to a more cumbersome method of paging through lists. A form of scroll swiping is supported on some lists such as in the Music and Messages apps, but swipes simply serve the same function as page up/down buttons and do not allow for smooth scrolling. Other apps entirely lack what would feel like natural swiping actions. Maps, for example, does not support swiping or pinching to pan or zoom maps.

CarPlay certainly shows a lot of promise, and it will only become more useful as additional third-party apps become compatible with the feature over time. For now, however, a main obstacle is getting CarPlay into users' cars. Despite initial promises of a handful of car manufacturers shipping new vehicles equipped with CarPlay-compatible entertainment systems this year, only Ferrari appears to have met that goal as others have had to push their plans into 2015.

Likely more important to the immediate potential success of CarPlay is the availability of aftermarket products that will allow users to retrofit their existing cars with CarPlay-enabled systems for a few hundred dollars. Alpine and Pioneer have indeed met their goals of launching CarPlay systems for their customers, and for now they are the means by which most consumers will be able to experience CarPlay in their vehicles. These aftermarket systems aren't particularly cheap, but with resellers offering lower-end models in the $450-$600 range, they are within reach of a decent number of consumers.

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tag: review

Top Rated Comments

rolsskk Avatar
80 months ago
As much as I want to love it, Car Play seems to be another Apple TV - something that was a neat idea and has great potential, but is never taken seriously by Apple.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chrjy Avatar
80 months ago
Gotta say it doesn't look that great...aesthetically it could definitely look better, I appreciate it is supposed to be a simple layout for obvious reasons but even so...
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Runespeaker Avatar
80 months ago
I had one of these installed in my car by a local car stereo shop last weekend. They did a great job, but by the time I had them add a backup camera and the necessary controller to make the steering wheel buttons work, it got pretty pricey! :eek:

That's okay, as it was my Christmas present to myself. :) And so far I'm really enjoying it. I picked the Alpine over the Pioneer 4000-NEX because that one was junked up with a zillion awfully designed features and interface elements I would never use, and had a worse touch screen and no dedicated Siri button. (It did have HD radio, though, which would have been nice.) The Alpine is better for me because it is a radio plus CarPlay plus a nice screen, and that's it. Much more elegant and Apple-like. Plus, the dedicated Siri button is great to have, as it's very easy to find and press while driving.

Overall, CarPlay works great and is easy and fun to use. Siri generally figures out what I want. I've been using maps, sending texts, making calls, and listening to music on my iPhone 5s. Oh, and radio, too. :p I would love to see CarPlay continue to expand and get more features and third party apps, so I hope Apple will remain committed to it. We'll see how my gamble pays off.

A few more notes for anyone considering one of these:

* Lack of Bluetooth is a non-issue. It's super easy to plug in your phone when you get in the car, and that gives you a great connection and charges the phone as well.
* You can listen to radio and use maps at the same time. I wasn't sure of this so checked before I bought the unit. It's not HD radio, though.
* The microphone is an external unit that needs to be mounted somewhere in your car, like by the rear view mirror.
* Adding a backup camera and integrating with your steering wheel controls will dramatically increase the cost, but it makes the unit feel much more integrated with your car.
* Lack of scrolling and panning is a little odd, but does seem like a conscious decision. It doesn't really harm usability. It's easier to ask Siri to play a certain song or artist rather than scroll through a list.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tankmaze Avatar
80 months ago
For 600 dollars I rather use ipad air 2 and put it on the dash connect it with the 3.5 mm jack. But thats just me :D
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
scottwoelfel Avatar
80 months ago

For 600 dollars I rather use ipad air 2 and put it on the dash connect it with the 3.5 mm jack. But thats just me :D

And have to pull it out of the car every time you stop to keep from getting your car broken into? No thanks.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
norrismantooth Avatar
80 months ago

Gotta say it doesn't look that great...aesthetically it could definitely look better, I appreciate it is supposed to be a simple layout for obvious reasons but even so...


I agree. It should look and feel like iOS (carry over iPhone backgrounds, user preferences). Apple needs to come out with a car stereo/media center. This 3rd party stuff doesn't cut it for me.

----------


After only a few full days of deliveries I found that the phones battery died quickly when you use it for directions. I also found that when you absolutely need directions, you can suddenly loose your signal. That happened a few times when I really needed to know where I was.


A simple car charger will solve your problems.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Top Stories 44 Feature

Top Stories: 'Thinner and Lighter' MacBook Air, Smaller iPhone 13 Notch, iOS 14.4 Incoming

Saturday January 23, 2021 6:00 am PST by
We continued to hear a lot more about Apple's plans for its Mac lineup this week, including word of a high-end redesigned MacBook Air and the return of an SD card slot as part of the upcoming MacBook Pro redesign. It also sounds like Apple has been working on Face ID for Mac, but it won't be appearing in a redesigned iMac this year as originally planned. This week also saw rumors about the...
magsafecasedangle

Apple Elaborates on Potential for iPhone 12 and MagSafe Accessories to Interfere With Implantable Medical Devices

Saturday January 23, 2021 2:42 pm PST by
Since the launch of iPhone 12 models in October, Apple has acknowledged that the devices may cause electromagnetic interference with medical devices like pacemakers and defibrillators, but the company has now shared additional information. Apple added the following paragraph to a related support document today:Medical devices such as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators might contain...
Flat MacBook Air Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on 'Thinner and Lighter' High-End MacBook Air With MagSafe, Could Launch in Second Half of 2021

Friday January 22, 2021 3:34 am PST by
Apple is working on a "thinner and lighter" version of the MacBook Air that the company plans to release during the second half of this year at the earliest or in 2022, according to a new report by well-connected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. It will include Apple's MagSafe charging technology and a next-generation version of the company's in-house Mac processors. Apple has discussed...
2021 mbp sd slot feature2

Bloomberg: Next MacBook Pro to Feature SD Card Reader

Friday January 22, 2021 7:50 am PST by
Last week, reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo outlined his expectations for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models later this year, including the return of the MagSafe charging connector, the removal of the Touch Bar, a new flat-edged design, and the return of more ports built into the notebooks for expanded connectivity. A concept of a modern MacBook Pro with an SD card reader Kuo did not...
airpods galaxy buds comparison

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs. Apple AirPods Pro

Friday January 22, 2021 2:34 pm PST by
Samsung in January unveiled new flagship Galaxy S21 smartphones and alongside the new phones, introduced the $200 Galaxy Buds Pro, which are priced at $199 and offer Active Noise Cancellation. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. These new Galaxy Buds Pro are clearly designed to compete with Apple's AirPods Pro, so we thought we'd compare the two sets of earbuds in our...
maxresdefault

Microsoft Touts Surface Pro 7 as 'The Better Choice' Over MacBook Pro in New Ad

Saturday January 23, 2021 11:02 am PST by
Microsoft yesterday shared a new ad on YouTube titled "Microsoft Surface Pro 7: The Better Choice," in which the company compares its tablet computer to Apple's 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro, as spotted by MSPoweruser. The ad highlights the Surface Pro 7's touchscreen and included stylus as opposed to only a "little bar" (the Touch Bar) on the MacBook Pro. Other advantages of the Surface Pro 7...
iOS 15 icon mock banner

iOS 15 Rumored to Drop Support for iPhone 6s and 2016 iPhone SE

Thursday January 21, 2021 11:58 am PST by
Apple's upcoming iOS 15 operating system, which we expect to see unveiled in June, is rumored to be dropping support for a few of Apple's older iPhones. According to French site iPhoneSoft, iOS 15 will not be able to be installed on the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 6s Plus, or the 2016 iPhone SE, all of which have an A9 chip. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were introduced in 2015 and are now more...
maxresdefault

Video Demos macOS Catalina Running on iPad Pro via x86 Emulation

Thursday January 21, 2021 11:36 am PST by
A video demonstrating macOS Catalina running on a current 2020 iPad Pro has been shared on YouTube, giving us a look at an interesting hack that has a Mac OS up and working on one of Apple's iPads. There's limited information about how the process of getting macOS Catalina on an iPad Pro works, but it uses x86 emulation and was done through the UTM software that allows virtual machines to...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature

iPhone 13 Rumored to Feature Smaller Notch, Pro Model Cameras to Use Larger Image Sensor

Thursday January 21, 2021 1:38 am PST by
Apple's iPhone 13 series will feature a redesigned Face ID system that will allow for a smaller notch at the top of the screen, according to a new report today. The rumor comes via hit-and-miss Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, whose supply chain sources also claim that the ultra wide-angle lens in Apple's next-generation iPhones is due for an upgrade. The next-generation iPhones'...
iOS 14

Apple Seeds iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 Release Candidate to Developers and Public Beta Testers

Thursday January 21, 2021 10:14 am PST by
Apple today seeded the RC version of upcoming iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the new betas coming a week after Apple released the second betas. iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper profile has been installed on an iPhone or iPad. Paired with the HomePod 14.4 beta that is...