If you’re not planning on buying a new car anytime soon, you probably aren’t going to be seeing much of Apple’s new in-car infotainment UI, CarPlay. Car manufacturers are just starting to integrate CarPlay with their new vehicles anyway, so even if you are planning on buying a new car, CarPlay is still in the distance. Dashbox brings a little bit of what CarPlay has to offer, and the best news is that you can even use it with your beat-up 1993 station wagon.
Dashbox turns your iPad into your car’s infotainment system, rather than working with your car’s existing system, if it has one. Naturally, this will work best if you have a way to mount your iPad onto your dashboard in a way that makes it easily accessible. Once it’s there, you’ll have a dashboard UI that gives you quick access to everything you’d need to access while in your car. That includes music you have stored on your device, Internet radio, video (both DRM-protected and otherwise), YouTube, a web browser, Google Maps, and a dialer for phone calls.
It’s pretty robust in terms of functionality, and the UI is very clean and easy to navigate. But, CarPlay this isn’t. Dashbox is in no way made to be used while you’re driving. There are no voice controls (or Siri integration) – only touch controls that will demand as much attention as any other app. But, when you’re pulled over, or want to start up a playlist before you set out, it’s a pretty solid app that neatly pulls together a lot of functionality. And, of course, if you have a passenger, they can easily pull off their sacred duties as car DJ and navigator using the app.
Dashbox is available on the iTunes App Store for $1.99. You can also buy a retro speedometer for another $1.99 as an in-app purchase, but the speedometer is by nature less accurate than your car’s speedometer and it won’t be as conveniently placed as your car’s speedometer, so I’m not sure how good of a buy that is.