Automate what happens when you start your car

Since iOS 13, Shortcuts users are able to use new automation triggers including When CarPlay connects and When CarPlay disconnects. I found this to be a really powerful tool that can automate things I would normally do every time I get in my car.

Obviously, for this recipe to work, you will need a car that supports CarPlay (typically newer models released after 2017 or 2018, a full list is available on Apple’s website) and an iPhone running iOS Shortcuts. If your car does not support CarPlay, you can achieve similar results by using the Bluetooth trigger (i.e., launch automation when your phone connects to your car’s Bluetooth).

First, go to the “Automation” tab in Shortcuts and click on “+” in the top right corner. Select “Create Personal Automation” and start building your shortcut. Here is an example I like to use step-by-step:

  • Check whether you are home – I like to differentiate between starting the car at home vs. outside. You can do it either via confirming that you are connected to your home Wi-Fi network (function “Get Network Details”) or by checking your location (function “Get Current Location”). My preference is to use Wi-Fi since it is faster.
  • Next, I use the “If” function: If Network Details is <your home network wifi name>
  • After this, you can set up your automation – I like to have Siri confirm that CarPlay is connected (function “Speak Text”), execute my HomeKit scene Leave Home (function “Control Home”), play NPR radio from Apple Music (function “Play Music”) and open Maps on the CarPlay screen (function “Open App”). See the screenshot for more details.
  • Any app that supports Shortcut actions can be exposed here – you can control Spotify, send a text message to your preferred contact, and even post a message to your favorite Slack channel. You can also ask Shortcuts to grab your next event details from your calendar and navigate to that location.

Again, this is a really simple tool that you can fully configure in <5 minutes, but it is one of those things that can save you lots of time by avoiding repeating tasks.

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