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
28 months ago
Somebody needs to keep up with their calls/vm's/text messages.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Relentless Power Avatar
28 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
28 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
28 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
28 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
28 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)

Popular Stories

intel vs m1 max chip purple

Benchmarks Confirm Intel's Latest Core i9 Chip Outperforms Apple's M1 Max With Several Caveats

Wednesday January 26, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Benchmark results have started to surface for MSI's new GE76 Raider, one of the first laptops to be powered by Intel's new 12th-generation Core i9 processor. Intel previously said that its new high-end Core i9 processor is faster than Apple's M1 Max chip in the 16-inch MacBook Pro and, as noted by Macworld, early Geekbench 5 results do appear to confirm this claim, but there are several...
General Dropbox Feature

macOS 12.3 Will Include Cloud Storage Changes Affecting Dropbox and OneDrive

Tuesday January 25, 2022 3:31 pm PST by
Dropbox today announced that users who update to macOS 12.3 once that software version becomes available may temporarily encounter issues with opening online-only files in some third-party apps on their Mac. In a support document and an email to customers, Dropbox said it is actively working on full support for online-only files on macOS 12.3 and will begin rolling out an updated version of...
Apple Watch Red Yellow Green Feature 1

Apple Launches Black Unity Braided Solo Loop With 'Unity Lights' Watch Face

Wednesday January 26, 2022 6:05 am PST by
Apple today announced the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop for the Apple Watch, as well as a new downloadable watch face, to celebrate Black History Month. Following the launch of the limited edition Black Unity Apple Watch Series 6 and Sport Band in 2021, Apple today launched the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop as part of its celebrations for Black History Month this year.Apple is launching a...
ios 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 With Fix for Safari Bug That Leaks Browsing Activity

Wednesday January 26, 2022 10:00 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3, the third major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.3 come almost two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 15.2.1, minor bug fix updates. The iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in ...
iOS 15

Everything New in iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4: Face ID With a Mask, Emojis, Apple Card Widget, Universal Control and More

Thursday January 27, 2022 12:08 pm PST by
Apple today seeded the first betas of iOS 15.4, iPadOS 15.4 to developers for testing purposes, adding a slew of new features to the latest iOS operating systems. iOS 15.4 is the biggest update that we've had to iOS 15 to date, and it brings Universal Control, Face ID with a mask, new emojis, and tons more. Face ID With a Mask With iOS 15.4, there is now an option to unlock your iPhone...
mobeewave

Upcoming iOS Update Will Allow iPhones to Accept Credit Cards Directly Using NFC

Wednesday January 26, 2022 6:00 pm PST by
Apple is working on a new payments service that will allow iPhones to accept payments directly on device with no additional hardware, reports Bloomberg. Right now, iPhones can accept credit cards with add-ons like the Square Reader, but Apple's new technology will eliminate the need for a third-party product. Individuals and small businesses will be able to accept payments with the tap of a...
macOS Monterey on MBP Feature

Apple Releases macOS Monterey 12.2 With Safari Vulnerability Fix

Wednesday January 26, 2022 10:19 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Monterey 12.2, the second major update to the macOS Monterey update that launched in October. macOS Monterey 12.2 comes over a month after the release of the 12.1 update, which brought SharePlay support. The ‌‌‌macOS Monterey 12.2‌‌ update can be downloaded on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences. Apple has also...