By on March 16, 2022

Acura

I was sitting in line for a car wash this morning, readying a test vehicle for photos, and since the line was long and moving slow, I started perusing Twitter on my iPhone while listening to the radio.

The same phone that was plugged into the Ford Maverick’s USB port so that I could run Apple CarPlay.

If you’ve ever tried to scroll social media, or a news app, or a game, or anything that might play a video ad or music, while also connected to CarPlay, whether wired or wirelessly, you might know where I am going with this.

Here’s what happens. You scroll through Twitter, an automated ad plays, and it cuts the radio out. Annoying.

But wait, you say, who cares? You shouldn’t be scrolling Twitter while driving, anyway! You’re right. And I don’t scroll my social media or play with my phone while the car is in motion. But there are plenty of times I am in the car, engine running, parked, waiting for something or someone.

The car-wash line. Picking someone up. Drive-thrus. I am sure we all face this situation fairly often — idling, parked, bored, and looking for a way to make killing a few minutes less tedious.

So you thumb through Twitter, trying not to be sucked into outrage-bait hot takes from people you don’t even know because apparently letting your blood pressure boil is preferable to staring out the window at the cityscape around you and taking it all in. Then the radio cuts out right as the sports yakker you’re listening to makes a great point about why your team sucks and you miss it. Bummer, dude.

I know it’s sort of an edge case, but I really wish Apple would figure out a way to fix this. Maybe a setting in CarPlay — perhaps an override so that it stays on the radio, even when an app is opened, unless the driver tells it otherwise.

Yes, it’s a first-world problem. Yes, it matters little in the long run. Still, it’s a minor annoyance I think Apple could likely easily fix.

If Apple ever does fix this, you know who to thank.

[Image: Honda/Acura]

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48 Comments on “A Polite Request Regarding Apple CarPlay...”


  • avatar
    kcflyer

    I only used it a couple of times because if I was using my navigation on the phone I could not hear my music from the radio or satellite. Seemed stupid.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      I use CarPlay all the time and can listen to SiriusXM while also getting directions from Waze. Not sure what the issue is on your end, but it usually involves simply re-selecting that you want to listen to the radio.

      • 0 avatar

        Alas, every time you change apps, the attention goes back to the phone. So if you are flitting between apps while on CarPlay, this can get tedious quite fast.

        • 0 avatar
          Tagbert

          Oh, you are listening to sirusXM on the vehicle while using the CarPlay directions? It sounds like your car is not handling that handoff and back very well. Not surprising, lots of ways for that to go wrong.

          Can you listen to the Sirius stream on your phone? Then the phone would properly handle the blending and fading of the audio stream. I dropped Sirius several years ago so I don’t recall if you can use your service on an app or not.

          (Quick check, it looks like you can. there is an app for that from Sirius.)

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I’ve found that some issues are vehicle-brand-specific.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    This isn’t really a Carplay thing, but as long as we’re complaining, it’s insanely annoying that Bluetooth can’t be locked to a single connection and always jumps to the newest one it finds.

    If my wife and I are driving near each other and get too close at a red light or something, the audio playing in my car will start playing in her car automatically. I can manually override it, but it will happen again once she gets out of range and then back in range.

    Why on earth would anyone think this behavior is what a listener would want in any circumstance, let alone automatically? Why would you ever want to switch audio from a closer source to a farther source? Why can’t you just have a setting that locks pairing into the connection that is currently active or strongest?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d think you could disable that in your phone’s settings…?

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        If so I’ve never been able to find the setting and others online struggle with the same thing.

        It appears there’s a way to lock AirPods to the phone so they don’t switch but infuriatingly not other things.

    • 0 avatar
      punkairwaves

      Yes, the product frustrates the customer but that’s not important. What matters is that the developers are 100% into the agile methodology.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @jack4x: On your issue, check your wife’s car and see which smartphone is the primary unit. If it’s yours, then it will automatically override your wife’s phone whenever it gets close enough. Easy fix is to make your wife’s phone the primary unit for that vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      colto1000

      This is almost certainly due to a setting on HER car. Make sure your phone isn’t set as her car’s “Favorite” or “Primary” device. Make sure her phone is, and that it’s connected, so yours doesn’t ever take precedence. If she doesn’t ever have a device connected, well, that’s a little trickier to workaround.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    @Tim:

    Easy fix: Go to your Iphone’s settings under Carplay, hit “customize” and you can remove the apps that you don’t want to see in Carplay. That way you won’t get bugged by tweets while you’re driving.

    I had to do the same with Microsoft Teams – part of my department works nights and weekends, and every time someone sent a message, I’d end up with a notification in my car, outside business hours. Annoying as hell.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      That won’t solve it. This occurs when I open an app while parked. Thankfully, I am not getting notifications while driving (except text messages, which it’s supposed to do).

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        That IS weird. You’re talking about terrestrial radio being interrupted, right? This doesn’t happen with my Carplay, but it’s also wired, not wireless. Perhaps that has something to do with it? Or maybe it has to do with the notification settings?

        • 0 avatar
          Tim Healey

          Basically, I will be listening to terrestrial audio or satellite radio and if I am scrolling Twitter, or the NYT app, or something like that, the audio from an autoplay video will override what I am listening to and switch the audio to CarPlay. Happens across various OEMs, so I think it’s an Apple thing. Also happens sometimes if I try to play a game with music or ads.

  • avatar
    BEPLA

    That’s not a CarPlay thing – Tt’s a smartphone thing.
    Do the same thing when you’re at the gym and listening to music (via AirPods, of course) and taking a moment to scroll while catching your breath and waiting for the leg-press machine to free up – and the same thing happens.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    My 2002 Silverado has an AM/FM radio by Delco Electronics. This allows me to successfully avoid all of your first world problems.

    When the time change occurred last weekend, I was able to change the clock by pushing two buttons.

  • avatar
    Fred

    It’s a matter of priorities, just like a phone call mutes the music, if you are actively using Twitter then it mutes the music. Really how are they going to know that a video is an ad or something you might want to listen to?

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Yep, this is annoying. If I’m waiting for someone I often want to scroll through Twitter while charging my phone and listening to the radio. I have to disconnect my phone if it has enough battery that I can comfortably stop charging or turn off the radio if it doesn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @dal20402: “If I’m waiting for someone I often want to scroll through Twitter while charging my phone and listening to the radio.”

      — I read a book instead; that avoids the problem.

  • avatar
    gregtwelve

    Wow I wonder if this would be an issue if we actually had a real problem.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Having not used an Apple product in years, I can’t say as I know what the cause is. However, if it’s anything like Android, muting your notification sounds should do the trick.

  • avatar
    hausjam

    On my Camaro you can stream music from your iPhone without using CarPlay. I just use the regular Bluetooth music section.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      It would do the same thing on BT vs CP, it is the phone giving whatever is active the priority for the audio.

      At least Tim has found out how annoying auto-play ads are!

  • avatar
    hausjam

    On my Camaro you can stream music from your iPhone without using CarPlay. I just use the regular Bluetooth music section.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Does every OEM’s CarPlay implementation include a button on the screen which allows you to exit CarPlay altogether? Honda’s does, so if I want to interact with the phone itself, I can just tap that button, and the infotainment goes back to the home screen, radio still playing.

    What I don’t care for is when CarPlay insists on showing its interface if my phone is plugged in but it’s not otherwise in-use and a call comes in, instead of the infotainment’s own.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @sgeffe: “What I don’t care for is when CarPlay insists on showing its interface if my phone is plugged in but it’s not otherwise in-use and a call comes in, instead of the infotainment’s own.”

      — It’s a convenience thing that the system will assume you want to use Car Play when you plug your phone in. Why else would you plug it in? If all you’re wanting to do is charge the phone, then simply revert to normal audio. Or, if your car has a built-in wireless charger (as so many vehicles do today) then don’t even plug in, just set it down on the charger.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    It’s an app thing. In iOS, there is something called the UI (user interface) thread. As it’s name implies, it is responsible for the actions that make up the UI. Normally, an app’s code runs on the application thread, which processes tasks in the background, while making requests of the UI to draw screens, interact with user input and the like. When you interact with an app’s UI, that action takes precedence over anything else. When you switch apps, the newly active app gets to tell the UI thread what it wants done. Audio is a function of the UI. If the app you switched too expects to play sounds or other audio, it can override the app running in the background. This sort of behavior is the result, most often, of ignoring best practices for playing well with others.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    If you can’t avoid a Twitter fix for a moment or two, you are addicted to the technology, and need to get some help.

    Just because everyone around you is also addict, that doesn’t make it healthy. Folks need to wake up to how big tech is changing them. Problem is, most people think it can’t happen to them.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    A 3rd party app is prioritizing an ad over your desired content, and you think this is a “problem” that’s going to be “fixed”?

    System functioning as intended.

  • avatar
    MitchConner

    Can’t stand CarPlay. Lots of Apple apps like Music are just terrible with big UI/UX issues and needlessly complicated settings buried in areas that aren’t intuitive to find at all.

    Been using Apple products since the 80s. The only reason I stick with them is the alternatives from Microsoft and Google are so colossally stupid I’d probably end up throwing them into a wall within a month.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Makes me glad that my sole use for Twitter is to follow the Richmond Flying Squirrels, our AA baseball team. Makes it easy to find if a game is a rain call before I leave for the field. Facebook is enough of a time suck as is.

  • avatar
    wolfwagen

    I’m disappointed that the B&B didn’t say something like this:

    “Well if TTAC can have a Lexus or Toyota ad pop up with the volume muted why cant twitter or others figure this out”

    FYI – when I first opened this story the damm Toyota ad wasn’t there. after I checked the posts before and after this one to see if the ad where in those posts (they were) I came back and boom there it was

    • 0 avatar
      MGS1995

      Actually, that video caused this very issue for me the other day while waiting for the car wash. I fired up Safari to see what was new on TTAC and my classic rock stopped playing on the radio. It’s an annoying, albeit a first world, thing.

  • avatar
    Mista

    actually this article brings up a thought I’ve had for a while. A full apple car play and android auto review would be an interesting read.

    • 0 avatar
      AK

      I just got a car that does both and I’ve used android auto. Let me give this a try.

      If you need a map on your screen while you use navigation, plug in and use android auto. Google Maps and Waze work well and it’s like the car has a navigation system.

      For anything else, don’t bother.

  • avatar
    SnarkyRichard

    Maybe I’m just un-assimulated into the Crapple culture , but I have never bought any Crapple overpriced products . Android , Microsoft , Garmin GPS and affordable SanDisk mp3 players have suited me just fine over the years . Twitter twidiots that line up at the Crapple store for the latest MyPhone remind me of the zombie morons in the Netflix movie Don’t Look Up .

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @SnarkyRichard: Just because you don’t understand a brand’s products doesn’t make them any worse than the products you use. To understand them, you have to use them; then you can make an educated decision. Hating for hate’s sake is just pitiful.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    iPhones can only do one thing at a time. One window, one operation.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @DenverMike: “iPhones can only do one thing at a time. One window, one operation.”
      — if only that were true. Then again, the Verizon cellular network is notorious for exactly that; maybe you should try one of the others?

  • avatar
    jwee

    The iPhone is literally doing tens if not hundreds of concurrent tasks. For the end user, this might mean talking on phone, navigating, updating mail, refreshing TTAC pages in background, loading a new ad, etc., all seemingly at the same time, but you only see the frontmost window. You can set which background tasks operate when they are not the front window. iPhones runs a Unix based pre-emptive multitasking operating system on a multi-core Arm processor. A modern iPhone has 6 CPU cores, 6 GPUs and 16 Neural cores that can all run concurrently. Android devices are similar.

  • avatar
    NigelShiftright

    (1) Any time you can’t get on to Twitter, from any device or location, a prayer of thanks is in order. Brain cells have been saved from death.

    (2) Why not sideload some audiobooks or long-form podcasts as mp3’s? That’s how I spend all my waiting time. Oops – Apple! Sorry.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @NigelShiftright: I figured out Twitter a long, long time ago; I stopped using it years before they doubled the character count of the tweets. Oh, I still have my account because I follow some specific technology sources but I never post anything of my own and only respond to a few–all from my desktop at home.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    This is an ongoing issue even when driving, where even though the primary iPhone may be feeding music, a secondary unit, authorized AS secondary, can sometimes take over audio in the same manner. When it happens, I’m forced to quickly go to the home (audio) screen and re-select the primary device. Certainly an annoyance.

    But then, in GM vehicles, Car Play tends to freak out the infotainment stack after about an hour of steady play time. The only way to break that is to revert the audio to straight audio settings and essentially turn off Car Play itself. Interesting thing here is this specific problem appears to be isolated to GM and it doesn’t matter what generation of iPhone or iOS version is involved.

  • avatar
    colto1000

    @Tim:

    Does muting (with the rocker) your phone not do the trick? Maybe disabling Twitter’s autoplay?

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