9to5Mac Gift Guide: CarPlay and must-have iPhone accessories for the road

9to5Mac Gift Guide: CarPlay and must-have iPhone accessories for the road

Let’s take a little drive together. Pack your iPhone, a small bag and, yes, everything on our roadtrip gift guide. From adding CarPlay in your vehicle to MagSafe iPhone brackets and the best charging cables for car trips, we have recommendations that you should have that give great gifts – even if you shop for yourself.

Apple CarPlay

To begin with, CarPlay has been my specialty since Apple’s infotainment feature was launched in the iPhone in 2014. (TBT for the very original concept of CarPlay that was actually called iOS in the car).

Seriously, I published this super early review of CarPlay as something that existed seven years ago. I have not lost my driver’s license yet, so these articles are the ones I regularly update for CarPlay curious:

Aside from these fun things, you should seriously consider adding Apple CarPlay and a backup camera to your car or a loved one’s vehicle. You can replace the existing radio in cars without CarPlay for less than $ 1000 – which is not cheap, but gives a great mega gift – and it is simply safer. My recommendation this year is this:

Alpine iLX-W650 CarPlay & Android Auto + backup camera / license plate frame

For under $ 700 you get an upgraded receiver with a 7-inch capacitive touch screen (avoid resistive touch, it’s the bad kind) plus a compatible security camera with a 132 degree viewing angle and a frame for mounting.

As the link in the piece above, there is wireless options (this option has Bluetooth wireless audio but not CarPlay without the Lightning cable), but honestly the inventory is just not there this year. Supply chain madness, perhaps.

Installation is also a factor in retrofitting your existing car with CarPlay, but I promise it’s a cheaper deal than buying a brand new car. Granted, but I secretly wish someone would one day gift me a brand new car with one of the giant loops wrapped around it.

You can also choose a less traditional option such as the Intellidash Pro screen, which is mounted on your windscreen or the car’s dashboard – no mounting required. Wired will set you back $ 350 and wireless costs $ 400 and there is a $ 50 coupon available at the time of writing.

Finally, if your car or your loved one’s vehicle already has CarPlay built in, but it does not work without a Lightning cable connected, I highly recommend checking out one of these adapters that actually adds Wireless CarPlay functionality.


Other must-have accessories for the road and your iPhone include:

If you have an iPhone 12 or later, the Belkins Car Vent Mount is a useful accessory for mounting your iPhone on your dashboard, and it comes in handy as an extra screen even if you have CarPlay. Think navigation on one screen and music control on another – sure, of course.

However, it lacks power supply, but you can add an Apple MagSafe charging cable to Spigen’s Mag Fit car mount for a similar solution that actually charges your iPhone. Not bad if you already have a charging puck or really want the convenience of magnetic mounting and charging.

Okay, I know you might be thinking that a 10 foot long Lightning cable is a bit much and the last thing you need as a driver. But really, consider your passengers (especially children) and how it can be a nightmare to run out of iPad battery on the road. Anker makes fantastic products, and this braided solution helps with durability.

And you do not have to be a child to appreciate a headrest-mounted video monitor for entertainment. This solution works with both the iPhone and most iPads and easily transforms your back seat into a first-class flying experience.


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