Hands-On With Wireless CarPlay on the Porsche Macan S

by

Five years after the launch of CarPlay, there are still very few car manufacturers supporting Apple's in-car platform wirelessly. The main benefit of wireless ‌CarPlay‌ is a nearly seamless experience of having much of your phone's core functionality available just a fingertip or voice command away on your car's infotainment system while your phone remains in your pocket.

So far, wireless ‌CarPlay‌ support is largely limited to some premium brands, and Porsche is one of those brands that recently rolled out support for it.

For a taste of that experience, Porsche invited me down to Atlanta for a day to take a look at how wireless ‌CarPlay‌ works hand-in-hand with the native infotainment system on the 2019 Macan S crossover. I also got to spend some time behind the wheel of the Macan S on the track at the Porsche Experience Center and check out the Heritage Gallery, a frequently changing display of some of the most important and collectible vehicles in Porsche's storied history.

porsche heritage gallery 914

Porsche 914 display in Heritage Gallery

While the Macan is certainly a fun crossover to drive and I had a great time putting it through its paces on the track and the other elements in the Porsche Experience Center, the primary purpose of my trip was to check out the infotainment system and how it works with ‌CarPlay‌.

porsche macan exterior

2019 Porsche Macan S in Mamba Green Metallic

Porsche's infotainment system is known as Porsche Communication Management (PCM), and as on most cars, it's the hub for much of the technology you need to interact with on a regular basis. The Macan comes with a 10.9-inch widescreen infotainment display, which allows for terrific integration between ‌CarPlay‌ and the tile-based PCM system.

porsche macan carplay home

‌CarPlay‌ home screen integrated with PCM

When active, ‌CarPlay‌ takes over a significant portion of the display, but a top status bar, left-side shortcuts bar, and multiple right-side app tiles remain visible at all times, making it easy to manage both systems simultaneously.

porsche macan carplay waze

Waze in ‌CarPlay‌

All of the home screen tiles on PCM are configurable, so you can customize things just the way you want, and support for multiple layouts makes it easy to switch between tile sets.

porsche macan pcm customize

Customizing the PCM home screen layouts

The Macan offers a relatively clean center stack dominated by the widescreen display, with a handy set of hardware buttons and a couple of knobs thankfully making for quick access to a number of important functions merely by feel.

The simplicity of the center stack is made possible due to Porsche's decision to move the vast majority of hardware controls down to the center console clustered around the gearshift. There are over 30 buttons and switches located down on the center console, including climate control, heated/ventilated seat controls, and various driving mode options. It's an overwhelming experience when you first sit down in the cockpit, but you quickly discover that many of the important ones should become familiar to find by feel while others are used infrequently enough that their location isn't an issue for everyday driving.

porsche macan console

Macan center console

With available built-in navigation capable of taking over nearly the entire widescreen display, you certainly get an expansive view of what's around you. The display sits a little lower on the dash than I prefer for visibility, but I'd say it's about average in this regard.

porsche macan nav

Widescreen built-in navigation

The persistent top and left status/navigation bars and the hardware buttons make it easy to jump between functions even while enjoying a wide fullscreen experience. A small digital display on the driver's dashboard can also serve as a configurable supplemental screen for navigation to make it easier to see directions and other vehicle information like audio, phone, settings, and more at a glance.

porsche macan driver display

Driver display

While ‌CarPlay‌ is available on all Macan models, it is not a standard feature. ‌CarPlay‌ support is priced at $360 as a standalone option, or it's available as part of several premium packages.

The 2019 Macan doesn't offer wireless charging, but the recently launched 2020 model does include it as an option, allowing for an even more seamless experience. The wireless charger is included in an optional $690 smartphone compartment located in the center console, with the compartment also able to serve as an antenna booster for improved signal strength.

porsche macan center compartment

Center console compartment with USB-A ports

If you don't opt for the wireless charger or just want to plug in your phone, you'll have two available USB-A ports inside that center console. Two more USB-A charging ports are located on the rear of the console to serve passengers in the back.

porsche macan rear controls

Rear USB ports and controls

Wired ‌CarPlay‌ is available across the Porsche lineup, and the company is working on rolling out wireless ‌CarPlay‌ on a number of its models as the infotainment systems get refreshed, and for the 2020 model year, the Macan, Taycan Turbo/Turbo S, and all 911 Carrera variants will offer wireless ‌CarPlay‌.

One of the major points of difficulty with ‌CarPlay‌ is frequently integration with a vehicle's native infotainment system, as swapping between the two systems or seeing what's going one while using the other one can be difficult, but Porsche has done a great job making multitasking across PCM and ‌CarPlay‌ nearly seamless. The widescreen display offers plenty of room to show a traditionally sized ‌CarPlay‌ screen while still giving you access to all sorts of menus and information tiles from PCM, all visible at the same time.

To me, this is the best way to take advantage of widescreen displays with ‌CarPlay‌, rather than going to a wide fullscreen ‌CarPlay‌ interface that forces you to exit ‌CarPlay‌ in order to access native infotainment functions. On systems like this whether both ‌CarPlay‌ and the native interface are available simultaneously, you can sometimes run into conflicts where certain native functions like phone and messages are unavailable because they're currently being handled by ‌CarPlay‌, but with the extensive home screen tile customization available in PCM it's easy to configure things in just the way you like.

Wireless ‌CarPlay‌ is an extra bonus that really needs to start trickling its way down beyond a small handful of luxury car manufacturers at this point. For short trips where you don't need or want to bother plugging in your phone, it's super convenient for ‌CarPlay‌ to simply pop up on the dash even with your phone still in your pocket. The growing prevalence of wireless phone charging in vehicles even lets you top off your phone without needing to worry about cables.

The one major downside with all of this is cost, and ‌CarPlay‌ doesn't exactly come cheaply on the Macan. As noted above, ‌CarPlay‌ is a $360 option on its own, or it comes as part of some other packages. And if you want wireless phone charging as well, that's another significant cash outlay since it comes bundled as with the antenna-boosting smartphone compartment. It may not make a huge amount of difference to luxury car buyers already laying out quite a bit of cash for their purchases, but the ability to have your phone's functions and data conveniently accessible on your car's dashboard is such a benefit that I can only hope we see a trend toward ‌CarPlay‌ (and Android Auto) support being included standard on an increasing number of vehicles.

Related Roundup: CarPlay

Top Rated Comments

HenryFSU Avatar
13 months ago
Somebody needs to keep up with their calls/vm's/text messages.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Relentless Power Avatar
13 months ago
The Macan has an _obscene_ amount of Center control push buttons near the shifter. It’s almost convoluted to the point where unfamiliarity would probably be more common given that row of lengthy buttons.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WildCowboy Avatar
13 months ago


Somebody needs to keep up with their calls/vm's/text messages.

In my defense, that's a Porsche rep's phone paired to the system in that photo. :)
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WildCowboy Avatar
13 months ago


I’d like to know is there any lag w wireless CarPlay? Is it slower or a degraded experience versus wired in any way?

I have it on a Pioneer system in my personal vehicle and don't notice any lag.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sidewinder3000 Avatar
13 months ago
Having all the extra Porsche stuff around the edges kinda takes away from the beautiful simplicity and cleanness of the CarPlay interface that can be seen on some of the less expensive cars that just have a single rectangular screen. I’m sure it all has functionality, and I assume Porsche has decent designers, but it just makes me jones for what an Apple car interior and control panel might look like on their own car.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Defthand Avatar
13 months ago
The cockpit controls and infotainment systems in luxury cars are UI/UX nightmares. You need a goddamn co-pilot so you can focus on driving.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

maxresdefault

Italy Fines Apple $12 Million for Misleading iPhone Water Resistance Claims

Monday November 30, 2020 3:10 am PST by
Apple has been slapped with a 10 million euro ($12 million) fine by Italy's antitrust watchdog for unfair commercial practices related to its iPhone marketing in the country. One of the Apple ads cited in the Italian watchdog's proceedings (credit: setteBIT) Specifically, Apple is being charged for misleading claims in promotional messages about how deep and how long iPhones can be submerged...
m1 chip macbook air pro

Developer Delves Into Reasons Why Apple's M1 Chip is So Fast

Monday November 30, 2020 1:57 pm PST by
Apple's M1 chip is the fastest chip that Apple has ever released in a Mac based on single-core CPU benchmark scores, and it beats out many high-end Intel Macs when it comes to multi-core performance. Developer Erik Engheim recently shared a deep dive into the M1 chip, exploring the reasons why Apple's new processor is so much faster than the Intel chips that it replaces. First and foremost,...
General cyber monday 20 sale feature

Apple Cyber Monday 2020: Discounts on iPads, Macs, AirPods, and More [Updated]

Monday November 30, 2020 6:25 am PST by
Today is Cyber Monday, a shopping event that sees many of the same deals from Black Friday bleed over into a new week, along with a few brand new offers on everything from Apple products to related accessories. In this post we'll highlight the best online discounts that you can find on Apple devices today. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a...
16 inch MBP Mini Led

Mini-LED M1 MacBook Pro and Mini-LED iPad Pro Models Coming First Half of 2021

Monday November 30, 2020 2:24 am PST by
Apple is widely reported to be embracing mini-LED display backlighting technology for some products next year, and a new report today by DigiTimes has named several of Apple's partners in the supply chain that are expected to benefit from the switch. According to the report, Apple is set to launch its first mini-LED iPad Pro in the first quarter of 2021 and mass produce mini-LED MacBook Pro...
Mac Mini 2018

Apple Developers Now Able to Natively Run macOS Within AWS With Amazon EC2 Mac Instances

Monday November 30, 2020 9:01 pm PST by
As AWS re:Invent kicks off, Amazon Web Services today announced new Mac instances for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, allowing AWS customers to run on-demand macOS workloads in the AWS cloud for the first time. Amazon says that the new feature extends the flexibility, scalability, and cost benefits of AWS to all Apple developers as those creating apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple...
periscope iPhone feature2

Apple Moving Forward With Plans for 'Folded' Periscope Cameras to Significantly Increase iPhone's Optical Zoom

Monday November 30, 2020 8:01 am PST by
Apple is advancing its plans to significantly enhance the iPhone's optical zoom range using periscope lens technology, according to ETNews. Citing industry sources familiar with the development of iPhone cameras, ETNews report says Apple is currently seeking an appropriate "folded" periscope camera solution for the iPhone and has already initiated discussions with suppliers. Apple has...
apple fitness plus instructor kim ngo

Apple Fitness+ Promotion Ramps Up as Launch Approaches

Sunday November 29, 2020 11:57 am PST by
Promotion for Apple Fitness+ is ramping up, with advertising initiatives and teases from instructors being spotted on social media, indicating that the new subscription service may be launching imminently. MacRumors reader Chris Weaver spotted that Best Buy has started advertising six-month free trials of Apple Fitness+ with Apple Watch purchases. The advert suggests that retailers have...
iphone 12 colors

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived last month in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 are ...
mac mini macbook pro macbook air m1

Notable Developer Starts Patreon to Fund Apple Silicon Linux Port

Monday November 30, 2020 4:23 pm PST by
Developer Hector Martin, who describes himself as someone who "likes putting Linux on things," has launched a plan create a Linux port for Apple Silicon Macs. Martin, also known as "Marcan," has created a Patreon with the goal of earning enough funding to be able to take on the complexities of bringing Linux to Macs equipped with an M1 chip. Creating a Linux port is no easy task, and Linux...
leather sleeve iphone 12 box

Hands-On With the Leather Sleeve for iPhone 12 Models

Monday November 30, 2020 2:13 pm PST by
Apple this year came out with a handful of accessories for the new iPhone 12 models, and in addition to the standard Silicone and Leather cases, there's also a new Leather Sleeve that recently went on sale. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We picked up one of the Leather Sleeves to check it out to see if it's worth the $129 that Apple is charging. The Leather Sleeve ...