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 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.

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.

‌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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

(View all)
Avatar
11 months ago
Somebody needs to keep up with their calls/vm's/text messages.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
11 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)
Avatar
11 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)
Avatar
11 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)
Avatar
11 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)
Avatar
11 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

Here's How You Can Download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Around the World [It's Out]

Wednesday September 16, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Apple's official public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 dropped on Wednesday, September 16, just a day after the company released the Golden Master to third-party developers. Also set to be made available to the general public for the first time are watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Getting Started With iOS 14 Video Click image to watch iOS 14 Getting Started While that's left a lot of developers...

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...

Apple Releases iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 With Home Screen Redesign, App Library, Compact UI, Translate App, Scribble Support, App Clips, and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple has released iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, the newest operating system updates designed for the iPhone and iPad. As with all of Apple's software updates, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 can be downloaded for free. iOS 14 is available on the iPhone 6s and later, while iPadOS 14 is available on the iPad Air 2 and later. The updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To ...

Apple Releases Safari 14 for Mac Ahead of macOS Big Sur Launch

Wednesday September 16, 2020 1:40 pm PDT by
macOS Big Sur didn't launch alongside iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 today, with the update coming later this fall, but Apple did release the Safari 14 update for macOS Catalina and macOS Mojave users. Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab...

Apple Updates AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 3A283

Monday September 14, 2020 11:24 am PDT by
Apple today released new 3A283 firmware updates for the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods are being updated from the 2D15 firmware they were previously running, while the AirPods Pros are being updated from the 2D27 firmware they had installed previously. Apple does not provide details on what's included in refreshed firmware so we don't know what's ...

Spotify Says Apple One Bundle Will Cause 'Irreparable Harm to Developer Community'

Tuesday September 15, 2020 12:26 pm PDT by
Apple today announced Apple One, a series of new subscription bundles that provide access to various Apple services at a combined monthly price. In response, Spotify sent out statements (via Peter Kafka) to the press decrying Apple's anti-competitive behavior and calling on "competition authorities" to stop Apple before it is able to cause "irreparable harm" to developers.Once again, Apple...

Apple Releases watchOS 7 With New Watch Faces, Family Setup, Sleep Tracking, Handwashing Help and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:47 pm PDT by
Apple today released watchOS 7, the newest version of the watchOS operating system designed to run on modern Apple Watch models. The watchOS 7 update comes after several months of beta testing. ‌watchOS 7‌ can be downloaded for free through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General > Software Update. To install the new software, the Apple Watch needs to have at...

New AirPods Pro Firmware Introduces Spatial Audio Support and Automatic Switching

Monday September 14, 2020 12:22 pm PDT by
The new 3A283 firmware that Apple released for the AirPods Pro today appears to introduce support for Spatial Audio, a new feature coming to the higher-end AirPods with iOS 14. Multiple reports on Twitter and the MacRumors forums indicate that the firmware update adds a "Spatial Audio" option to the Control Center, which can be activated to enable the feature. Note that using Spatial Audio...

Here Are All of the New Apple Watch Faces Apple Announced Today

Tuesday September 15, 2020 2:55 pm PDT by
Apple today announced the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE, both of which will be compatible with new watch faces that are being introduced in the watchOS 7 update set to be released tomorrow. Apple has provided a video highlighting all of the new Apple Watch faces, with details on each one. GMT - The GMT face shows multiple time zones at once, while also taking into...

iOS 14.2 Beta Adds New Shazam Music Recognition Feature for Control Center

Thursday September 17, 2020 3:36 pm PDT by
Apple today released the first beta of iOS 14.2 to developers for testing purposes, and the new update introduces a Music Recognition control for the Control Center. The new feature lets you discover music playing around you and it recognizes the music playing with in apps, even when you're wearing AirPods. Songs pop up as notifications, and you can tap to listen in Apple Music....