Various CarPlay adapters have been available on the market for some time, and since they usually require an Android system, an older Android tablet can be given a new life as a CarPlay display. So the question arises, what is the minimum amount from which CarPlay can be put together in the case of an older car?
Necessary tools and accessories
In the case below, a 2004 VW Polo, which only has a tape radio, became CarPlay-capable with the help of the CarlinKit wireless CarPlay adapter and an Android tablet.
CarlinKit CPC200-CCPA Wireless CarPlay Adapter
First of all, I will need a CarlinKit CPC200-CCPA wireless CarPlay adapter (which also has Android Auto support).
Here, the price at the time of publication is $73.99, and currently, there is also a "Carplay" coupon code, which gives us a 16% discount and free shipping, so we can buy it for around $60.
The adapter also has a USB-A socket, so you can charge the tablet used as a display at the same time, so you don't have to worry about it running out of power during use.
The second, also essential thing we will need is an Android tablet. Here, my wallet really sets the limit as to how much I am willing to sacrifice for this, and of course, the screen size of the given tablet also matters. For this blog, I used a 2012 Nexus 7 tablet, which has a 7″ screen diagonal, so it offers practically the same as an average CarPlay head unit.
Such a tablet can currently be purchased for only a few hundred dollars on the second-hand market, but anything else will do, you don't even need to know mobile internet since it will only have one display. The point is that it runs at least Android 4.4 because this is the minimum requirement for the AutoKit app. By definition, the newer the tablet, the better, but the AutoKit app works perfectly even with this 10-year-old device.
Of course, we can also use an Android phone instead of a tablet, AutoKit doesn't really care, but obviously, a phone will have a smaller screen than the average 7″ screen diagonal of the head units, so a tablet is better for that.
USB OTG adapter
In order to be able to connect the CarlinKit wireless adapter to the tablet, I will also need a USB OTG adapter. This is necessary, on the one hand, because the end of the CarlinKit cable has a USB-A connector and older tablets usually require a micro-USB, and on the other hand, you definitely need OTG, otherwise, the device will not detect that the device is plugged in.
Depending on where I want to place the tablet, I can buy an adapter built into the connector, one with a short cable, or one with a long cable. The price of these obviously depends on the type, but a simple, short cable adapter can be purchased for less than 10 dollars.
Car tablet holder
In order to somehow fix the tablet, I will need a car tablet holder. Here I chose Vogel's windshield holder because the Nexus 7 tablet fit in it without any problems. At the time of publishing this blog, it costs less than 50 dollars.
In this holder, the tablet can also be rotated 360 degrees, so it can be used both in a vertical and horizontal position, and the device can be easily removed at any time without having to take it out of the holder itself, and then simply snap it back onto the head attached to the windshield. The fact that the tablet can be easily removed also allows me to put it in the glove box after use, for example, and thus it will not be unnecessarily visible when we park on the street for a long time.
The holder also comes with a plastic disk that can be glued on, if I would prefer to find an attachment point on the dashboard, where the suction disk may not be able to hold it. Then this glued plastic disc will be the one that the suction cup will be able to hold onto.
Since the tablet is placed on top of the dashboard, I have to take my eyes off the road much less than if the display was on the center console, and this is perhaps safer at the same time.
Installing the AutoKit app on the tablet
For the CarlinKit adapter to work, the AutoKit app must be installed on the tablet. I downloaded this from the AutoKitCarPlay website. Or you can download and install the APK App (AutoKit) from your tablet's browser by typing the URL http://18.104.22.168:8080/autokit/autokit.apk.
Install it on the tablet, give it all the requested permissions, and then connect the CarlinKit adapter to the tablet.
Then, on the iPhone, in the Settings, Bluetooth menu, wait for the device named "AutoKit-XXXX" to appear, click on it and pair it with the iPhone. Make sure your phone is not connected to any other devices during this time (Wi-fi Code is 12345678). The app will then continue and connect to the device.
After a few seconds, the CarPlay main screen will appear:
The icons of the apps that appear here can be turned on or off on the iPhone under Settings, General, CarPlay, My Car, Customization, or change their order.
Summing up the above, this can be achieved for approximately 120 dollars: this amount includes the discounted CarlinKit adapter, the USB OTG adapter, and the car mount. I didn't include the price of the tablet because it's completely up to the individual how much they want to spend on it, and I had a Nexus 7 just lying around, so I didn't even have to think about buying it.
Since the adapter can also charge the tablet used as a display, it might be worth getting a cigarette lighter charger and a USB-A - USB-A cable for this. (I use a Joyroom JR-ZS240 MagSafe charger holder and a Joyroom C-A08 30W USB-A + USB-C cigarette lighter charger, which can charge both the iPhone and the tablet at the same time.)
Thanks: Guest written by Peter Kovari
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