Google Maps icon

If your car supports Apple CarPlay and you’re not a fan of Apple Maps, it’s easy to use Google Maps for detailed turn-by-turn directions and navigation in your car instead. Here’s how to use it.

First, make sure you have Google Maps installed on your iPhone. It’s available free of charge on the App Store. After that, activate CarPlay by connecting your iPhone to your CarPlay-compatible vehicle. Locate Google Maps on your CarPlay screen and launch it with a tap. What you do next depends on where you’d like to go.

How to Get Turn-by-Turn Directions in Google Maps Through CarPlay

Once Google Maps is running, it can provide turn-by-turn directions by voice to almost any location. First, tap the screen until you see an “Add Destination” button across the top. Once it appears, tap it.

Tap "Add destination" in Google Maps for CarPlay on iPhone.

Next, you will see a menu that lets you choose how you’d like to add a destination. Although there are six buttons here (plus a keyboard button), there are really only four basic ways to enter a destination.

  • Recent searches: This shows a list of recently searched destinations you can pick from.
  • Gas stations, Restaurants, Grocery stores, Coffee shops: Tapping one of these shows you to a list of nearby businesses that match the category description. You’ll be able to tap the one you’d like to visit.
  • Voice search: This allows you to search for a destination using your voice.
  • Keyboard search: Tapping the keyboard icon in the upper-right corner of the screen allows you to search by typing in a destination name using an on-screen touch keyboard.

The "Add destination" menu in Google Maps for CarPlay on iPhone.

For example, if you tap the “Voice Search” button, you’ll be asked where you’d like to go.

Say the destination you'd like to search for in Google Maps for CarPlay on iPhone.

Say the name of a destination out loud. It can be an address (i.e., “4403 Denmark St. in Tampa”), the name of a landmark (such as a park, monument, or famous building), or a business.

For example, if you say “McDonalds,” Google Maps will provide a list of the closest McDonalds restaurant locations. You will see a similar search result list if you search by keyboard or browse by category type as well. Tap the listed location that you’d like to visit.

Tap the desired destination from the search results list in Google Maps for CarPlay on iPhone.

After that, Google Maps will show you an overview of the route path on the map as well as how long it will take to get there. To begin the route, press “Start.”

Tap "Start" to start the route in Google Maps for CarPlay on iPhone.

As you’re driving, Google Maps will give you vocal turn-by-turn directions through your car’s speaker system. You will also be able to see your location as you move along on the map. Your vehicle is represented by the blue triangle-shaped icon inside a circle.

While you’re driving, you will see an estimated arrival time, the time remaining until you reach the destination, and remaining distance in the lower left corner of the screen.

If at any time you’d like to add a stop to your route, you can tap the “Add Stop” button at the top of the screen. To cancel the route, tap the “Exit” button in the upper-right corner.

Following turn-by-turn directions in Google Maps on CarPlay through iPhone.

The three buttons in the lower right corner of the display do the following (from top to bottom):

  • Browse map: Tapping this allows you freely move your viewpoint of the map up, down, left, or right so that you can get a look at the surrounding area without having to drive there.
  • Mute audio: This mutes the voice giving the turn-by-turn directions.
  • See route overview: This allows you to see an overview of the entire route in progress on the map.

Examining the three black option buttons in Google Maps on CarPlay through iPhone.

Once you’ve arrived, Google Maps will alert you by voice, and the screen will change. Tap “End Trip” to clear the trip from Google Maps.

Tap "End Trip" once you've reached your destination in Google Maps on CarPlay through iPhone.

After that, you’re free to enter a new destination and start again (or simply get out of your car and eat a cheeseburger).

How to Change Settings in Google Maps on CarPlay

If you’d like to change settings in Google Maps while using CarPlay, tap your car’s touch screen until you see a blue gear icon, then tap the “gear” icon.

Tap the blue gear icon to enter Settings in Google Maps on CarPlay through iPhone.

After that, a “Settings” menu will appear.

The Settings screen in Google Maps on CarPlay through iPhone.

We’ll briefly go over what each option in the Settings menu does.

  • Route options: This allows you to specify that you’d like to avoid highways, toll roads, or ferries while Google Maps suggests potential routes.
  • Map colors: This changes the color of the Google Maps interface. The options are “Day” (a white theme), “Night” (a dark theme), or “Automatic,” which automatically changes from Day or Night theme depending on time of day.
  • Satellite map: This option toggles (turns on or off) satellite map imagery. This imagery shows real overhead photography of the world around you, but it consumes extra cellular data while in use and may be potentially slower to load in some locations where your cell signal is weak.
  • Traffic: This toggles the traffic status overlay. When enabled, you will see local traffic conditions overlaid onto the roads using colored lines. Green means traffic is flowing smoothly, orange means somewhat congested, and red means that traffic is moving very slowly in that area.
  • North up: This changes map orientation from a “behind the car” orientation where the map rotates around your vehicle to a “North up” orientation where the map is always oriented with north facing up.
  • Volume: This allows you to adjust the volume of the voice that gives turn-by-turn directions and route warnings.

If you’d like to change any of these settings, tap the corresponding button in the menu. After you’re finished in Settings, tap the “Back” button, and your changes will be saved. Safe travels!

Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a Staff Writer for How-To Geek. For over 14 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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