Handy Guide to Apple’s CarPlay In-Dash Experience

Apple continues to be the forerunner of technological innovation. For those of you dreaming of having your own on-board computer in your car, Apple’s CarPlay is the closest thing to turning your car into a starship from Star Trek.

“CarPlay features Siri voice control and is specially designed for driving scenarios. It also works with your car’s controls — knobs, buttons or touchscreen. And the apps you want to use in the car have been reimagined, so you can use them while your eyes and hands stay where they belong,” according to Apple. 

This system is available in only one make and model — the very expensive Ferrari FF. This is the first and only commercially available vehicle in the world with Apple CarPlay right now. 

Earlier this year, Mercedes and Volvo were ready to deliver the same iPhone-compatible experience, but they were delayed into 2015.

Next year, the Volvo XC90 SUV and Mercedes-Benz C-Class will join Honda, Hyundai and Jaguar as models that will feature CarPlay.

More car manufacturers like BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, KIA, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot-Citroen, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota will work on adding CarPlay.


CarPlay allows you to use all your iPhone’s capabilities and features without touching it. Your music, navigation to your favorite stores, taking phone calls, reading and texting messages can be controlled without holding your phone.

You can even play your iTunes music, navigate Apple Maps and watch videos from your dash. In the future, Apple plans to allow third parties to build CarPlay compatibility into their own apps, making them available through the CarPlay system.

Ways to Use

One option you can use is the  touchscreen display.

In the next year, some CarPlay cars will come with touchscreen displays made into the dashboard. Users can use this display to open and close apps using a very simple home screen. This is the most straightforward method of using CarPlay.

Another option you can use is iPhone’s Siri.

By using Siri, you can talk to your vehicle and tell it what to do. That does not mean autopilot. That includes selecting music from your library or requesting a playlist. You can also have your messages read out to you before you reply.

The third option is using your physical buttons, knobs and controls. The volume controls, track skip and other features are all integrated and will work.

As 2015 approaches, keep an eye out for this new feature from Apple.

Hour of Code Prepares to Spark Millions of Young Students’ Interest in Computer Science

As the technology industry continues its rapid growth, tech giants are getting behind the annual Hour of Code to ensure that young people who have an interest in the field have access to the classes and resources they need to fill the millions of positions available for computer science experts.

There is still the general belief that the tech industry is a space reserved for nerdy white men—and after tech giants released their diversity reports earlier this year, it seemed as though there was some validity to that argument.

Companies like Google and Facebook had less than 2 percent Black employees, with hardly any in leadership positions. The companies also had a troubling lack of female employees.

The Hour of Code may be able to help improve these numbers.

Code.org, a non-profit that aims to get youth interested in computer science, launched the Hour of Code last December.

The event is supported by tech giants, local governments and schools across the nation, who all dedicate at least an hour to introducing young people to coding and computer science.

One of the tech giants getting behind the movement is Apple. Apple will be offering free coding classes for kids and adults at many of their retail locations on December 11.

For Apple senior VP of internet software and services, it’s exactly the type of international movement that the company loves to get behind.

“Education is part of Apple’s DNA and we believe this is a great way to inspire kids to discover technology,” Eddy Cue said.

While the annual worldwide event does not particularly reach out to marginalized groups, it does offer free resources that many Black youth would not have access to otherwise.

Such events have been promoted as viable solutions to the tech world’s massive diversity problem.

Last year’s Hour of Code was a huge success and managed to introduce roughly 15 million students to the world of technology and computer science.

The students also learned the basics of coding and collectively wrote more than 600 million lines of code, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

This year, Code.org hopes to reach at least 100 million students.

The Hour of Code already has been celebrated as the biggest educational event in history by several major news outlets and has been part of an even larger movement to get more schools in the United States to place more value on computer science classes.

Code.org’s website claims that more than 20 states in the U.S have school systems that don’t allow computer science classes to be counted towards the credits students need to graduate.

Code.org has been adamant about getting more schools to efficiently incorporate computer science classes in their K-12 curriculum.

Major progress has already been made, as more than a dozen states have updated their educational policies to give computer science classes a more prominent role in their programs.

From December 8-14, which is Computer Education Week, thousands of events will take place across the globe to get students interest in computer science. More information on all the events and companies supporting the movement can be found on the Hour of Code’s official website.



Black Twitter Does it Again: The Online Push For Black Emojis Has Been Answered

The virtual collection of Emoji icons on mobile devices might receive a revolutionary update that will finally include ethnically diverse characters.

For at least a year now, Black Twitter has had an interesting question for the creators of the emoji icons: Where are the Black people?

The variety of faces used to express certain emotions and depict common items has long excluded Black characters.

An Asian man, an Indian man and even gay couples fill the emoji repertoire on Apple and Android devices, but if Black users ever wanted a face that looked a little more like themselves they were out of luck.

That’s finally about to change… possibly.

The Unicode Consortium recently announced a possible method for creating a wider range of skin colors for users to have access to.

The proposal is still being reviewed but Unicode Consortium president and co-founder Mark Davis said the odds are looking good that Black emoji icons are on the way.

“It isn’t completely set in stone; we are still collecting feedback on the proposal,” Davis said in an email to the Washington Post. “But I think it is very likely.”

The draft of the proposal said that the company understands that users want to see human diversity reflected in the technology they use and Unicode Consortium is ready to provide them with that.

“People all over the world want to have emoji that reflect more human diversity, especially for skin tone,” the draft said.

The update will do more than just add one Black emoji; it will allow users to take any existing emoji and select the skin tone they would prefer to use.

These skin tone swatches would range from a pale, creamy color to a darker brown/Black option.

Black emojis

The skin tone options would be effective for single faces as well as group emoji icons like couples.

The skin tone options would not, however, allow users to change only one person’s skin color in group emoji icons.

The announcement of the possible update comes after Twitter and other social media platforms served as a catalyst for users to voice their complaints.

Timelines across the country were filled with users pushing for Black emoji.

Some users voiced their concerns by joking about the absence of a Black emoji.

“They have Drake from Degrassi on here but no Black people,” one user tweeted along with the wheelchair emoji.

The tweet was a reference to the handicapped character Drake played in the popular teen series.

Others didn’t feel like the lack of diversity in emoji icons was a laughing matter.

“So there’s a gay couple emoji’s but not black person emoji,” another user tweeted. “Just gonna point that out.”

“I just know this IOS 8 update was gonna come with Black emojis,” another user tweeted. “Y’all can keep this.”

Even pop star Miley Cyrus and actor Tahj Mowry joined the call for more emoji diversity.

“It makes me mad that there are no black emojis…” Mowry tweeted back in March.

Cyrus asked her followers to retweet her message if they agreed with the movement to add a Black emoji icon.

The tweet quickly gained more than 6,000 retweets and 2,200 favorites.

If the plans are approved, the ethnically diverse icons could make their way to mobile devices by mid-2015.


Apple and Google Face Off in a Battle of the Smart Watches

Apple and Google are at the forefront of discussions about technology’s latest craze – smart watches.

While both competitors prepared to duke it out to produce the preferred go-to smart watch, it seems many tech experts are having a hard time finding substantial differences between the two products.

In other words, Google may have closed the technology gap that used to exist between Android-operated and iOS-operated devices.

Quite frankly, the gap may have already been closed for quite some time.

Digital Trends took a close look at Android Wear and Apple’s soon-to-be released Apple Watch, but their stats reveal that the competitors may have more in common than they would like to admit.

Both watches will come packed full of useful features.

Android Wear will provide users with useful voice commands powered by Google Now while the Apple Watch will provide voice commands through Siri.

Both products will feature multiscreen functionality and fitness and health monitoring, according to Digital Trends.

Android Wear devices boast Google Fit while the Apple Watch will likely utilize the Healthbook app for its product.

One thing Android Wear has already provided that may not be available on the Apple Watch is location specific information.

According to Digital Trends, “Android Wear takes note of your exact location to give you issue relevant notifications and contextual reminders.”

With Apple’s smart watch not scheduled to be released until early 2015, these specifics have not been released just yet.

Tech experts believe, however, that Apple will likely take notes from Google’s device and include similar features.

While the watches seem relatively similar for the most part, outside of design aspects, the Apple Watch does boast some useful features that Google’s device doesn’t.

The Apple Watch will feature a “Digital Crown” dial that will allow users to interact with the watch without having to block the screen with their finger.

Also, the Apple Watch is promised to feature a heart rate sensor while the Android Wear’s heart rate sensor will depend on the manufacturer.

Both watches will have different versions that will also be waterproof.

As for those design features, the watches look just as you would expect an Apple and Google product to look.

Keeping in line with the sleek designs its brand has become known for, Apple’s smart watch looks like something out of a new science fiction flick.

The white watch features a black screen with sleek rounded corners on the rectangular face.

Designs for Android Wear, on the other hand, will vary based on which device you decide to go with.

Android Wear will give users the option of getting a square face or a round face.

If you’re looking for a larger variety in designs, however, Apple may still have its competitor beat.

While no rumors of a round-faced Apple Watch have surfaced, the tech giant will feature several different designs that are likely to appeal to a fashionable tech-savvy crowd.

One model will boast 18-karat gold while the Apple Watch Sport focuses on functionality and comfort over design aesthetics.

When it comes down to it, both watches seem to promise a good experience for users.

Some Android Wear models are available for as low as $250 while the Apple Watch prices will start at $350.

Either way, it seems like this tech battle will be determined by what phone consumers already have.

Neither of the devices seems to promise enough to have an iPhone user rushing to buy an Android device or vice versa.