Software Eating The World - My Apple CarPlay Bug
I was holding off getting one of the iPhone X variants because I was not a fan of FaceID. Finally my iPhone 7+ was showing it’s age and decided to get an iPhone XS Max on release day. What a solid feeling device! I pre-ordered a few cases to see which one I would like the best when I got my XS Max on release day. The phone arrived without a hitch, slapped a case on, and headed to my 2018 Audi S4 and was expecting to blast Spotify from my new device.
Fan Boi of CarPlay
I have been a fan of CarPlay for a few years. I started seeing CarPlay pop up in my rental cars circa 2015/16. Though was not until 2017 when I got my model year 2018 Audi S4 that I had CarPlay in my daily life. With my previous car[s], would have to go through the “iPod” interface to play hardwire music or use Bluetooth Audio. Now I can blast 320kps Spotify and put to use my Bang and Olufsen entertainment system. Got into my S4 and decided to go grab dinner at Stoney River which is 10-15 mins away. About 1/2 way to Stoney River the music stops…
Did CarPlay just Disconnect?
Driving to Stoney River to house a 16oz Prime Rib, XM radio came out pretty loud and my Spotify just stopped. This caught my off guard. I lowered the music and thought the heavier iPhone XS Max [when compared to the iPhone 7 Max] was tugging on the USB cable and would trouble shoot when I parked. So I parked and re-connected the cable. CarPlay started again and I turned the car off to go get my Prime Rib.
I get back in the car and the same thing happens a few minutes into my 10-15 minute drive. How annoying. At this time I think the cable is the problem so I switch to the cable that came in the iPhone XS Max box. That has to solve the problem.
Well no that did not solve the problem so I started to be concerned that there was something wrong with my USB port in my Audi. The cable was a little hot since the USB that Audi provided was able to provide a “faster charge” than the little brick shipped with the iPhone. I changed USB ports and the problem still kept popping up.
Problem Solving Time!
This is starting to be pretty annoying. I am used to connecting my iPhone to CarPlay every time I get into my car. I am not going back to Bluetooth Audio ha! Even more annoying than the Audi was the GPS. Google Maps was finally allowed on CarPlay with iOS 12 [this saved me from getting an Android vs an iPhone XS Max]. Google Maps would disconnect when CarPlay would go down. Would be driving and need directions and bam, GPS gone. Though to be fair my car has a navigation system but alas, who uses that?!
I did some cursory Google-ing like any good technology professional. There has been mention of a feature that came out iOS 11.4.1 which was more for security around USB to keep big brother or who ever out of your iPhone from a brute force USB attack. That version of iOS was the version right before iOS 12 came out which was the launch version of the XS Max. Odd though because my iPhone 7 Plus had this feature enabled and leveraged CarPlay fine without any disconnects. Oh my, this means there might be an issue with my iPhone.
WTF to do?
My iPhone was functioning perfectly. Being in technology, systems are systems. I had the latest version of Audi’s MMI system in my B9 2018 Audi S4. Though clearly Audi is not Apple and vice versa. Was there an issue with my MMI software which would be a bug that Audi fixes or an issue with iOS/my iPhone which Apple has to fix.
So decided to hit a few forums to see what to do. I participate in the B9 S4 Forum and decided to post my first help post on Apple’s Forum.
Those threads got pretty long. I was not the only one facing the problem. On the Apple Forum folks form multiple car manufactures [Audi, Jeep, etc] were complaining.
Long Road to Fix
Every incremental version of iOS 12 that came out, folks on the forums would try all sorts of items. Another engineering type person saw that the iPhone XS Max was drawing too much power or attempting to fast charge with a USB volt meter. By attaching the volt meter, was able to slow the roll down a little on the iPhone XS Max trying to fast charge on a car USB.
Some folks even noticed when the phone would be connected to Bluetooth would cause contention with the MMI. I was not able to tell one way or the other since with BT on or off on my iPhone XS Max, the same disconnect.
Finally though someone on the Audi Forum had some pull at Apple [person might actually work at Apple] and got the issue escalated. In Jan 2019 with the iOS 12.1.3 release, Apple included in the release notes that they were including a fix for “certain cars”.
That fix did help but was not until a few releases of iOS and underlying apps that CarPlay finally started working fine for me. I would say around iOS 12.2 was pretty rock solid and I could not be happier.
Do I get the new iPhone 11?
With such a sour taste around the release of iOS 12.0 and the iPhone XS Max with the constant disconnects, am I confident enough that iOS 13.0 and the iPhone 11 Pro would not be the same drill? Proves that technology all moves quickly and sometimes you just face the unknown or corner cases. Though four months for some sort of fix from Apple was no bueno.
Yes I am a fan boi and prob will get the 11 Pro…