This dongle can upgrade you to wireless CarPlay for cheap
Wireless CarPlay is still scarce, but there is a way for existing CarPlay users to break free of wires inexpensively, and we've been testing it for months now.
Using CarPlay wireless
Editor's note: We stumbled across this dongle some time ago. In the three months since we originally published this piece, we've had questions about it, and we've had more time to test it in more conditions.How to Use LiDAR on Wired CarPlay is near-ubiquitous among newer vehicles, with only a few recently making the jump to wireless. Ford announced several vehicles will go wireless with a new Sync 4 update and Uconnect 5 from FCA will also bring wireless CarPlay to a massive number of vehicles.
Unfortunately, that leaves everyone else out in the cold currently relying on their existing wired CarPlay setups. Typically, the only real cost-effective ways to get wireless CarPlay is to wait until you step up to a new vehicle or pony up some big cash for an aftermarket head unit, such as the Pioneer AVH-W4400NEX receiver we tested. But, an after-market solution can sometimes cause problems with integrated electronics, like backup cameras or remote starter systems.
Fortunately, we've recently stumbled upon a middle ground. There is a way to achieve wireless CarPlay without a replacement receiver and without a new vehicle.
Hack your way to wireless CarPlay
We managed to do this with an external USB box that essentially "tricks" your vehicle into thinking your iPhone is plugged in. There are several versions of this device floating around online though the one we picked up is called CarPlay2Air.
This device connects to your car's USB port that is used for CarPlay. The vehicle then registers this as a CarPlay device. Your iPhone sees this new external receiver as a CarPlay device and will connect to it wirelessly.
What this amounts to in the end, at least today, is seamless, wireless CarPlay.
The CarPlay interface as it connects to your iPhone
With the adapter installed, wireless CarPlay works like any other official solution. You get in the vehicle, as soon as it boots up, your phone will automatically connect to your infotainment system.
A new loading screen appears for a few moments as your phone connects. This is the one difference between this solution and an official solution.
Wireless CarPlay brings several benefits. Your iPhone's battery life gets displayed on your infotainment screen which leaves you free to keep the phone in your pocket or purse. Fiddly wires become a thing of the past.
Best of all, you can finally use a wireless charger. We hit the road often and have destroyed Lightning cables because a small amount of water has gotten on the pins. A bad Lightning cable means no CarPlay.
Where to buy
If you'd like to try one out for yourself, you can pick up the MiraBox® Carplay Dongle from miraboxbuy.com for $99.99.