CarPlay lets you use compatible iPhone apps in your car with a simplified interface that’s better suited to driving. Here are some of our favorite apps that come with CarPlay integration, from navigation apps to in-car entertainment and a few extras.
RELATED: How to Add Apple CarPlay to Your Car
Rather than mounting your iPhone on your dashboard and using it as a floating GPS, CarPlay integrates your favorite navigation apps into your car’s dashboard. This alone is a reason to consider adding CarPlay to your vehicle, if you don’t already have it.
Apple Maps had a rocky start back in 2012 when it first launched, but things have improved dramatically over the last decade. The app has all the trimmings you’d expect from a modern navigation app including turn-by-turn directions (that use your chosen Siri voice), speed limit and traffic hazard warnings, real-time traffic information, lane guidance, and more.
Maps look great, and the app uses Siri to make useful predictions; for example, if someone sends you an address in messages, Maps will offer to route you there. It also learns based on your habits, offering a one-touch route to common locations at the relevant time of day. If you haven’t tried Apple Maps recently, it’s definitely worth a second chance.
If Apple Maps isn’t for you, Google Maps is arguably the best alternative. The search giant’s mapping service serves a huge number of users each day, which means it’s probably the best-maintained navigation app you can choose for your CarPlay. If you’re a big fan of Google Maps on the web or in-app, you’ll love the look of the CarPlay integration.
Google has a huge pool of real-time traffic data to pull from to give you up-to-date information on conditions, speed limits, and reports. Google even integrates crowd-sourced reports from Waze into the app now, further bolstering its usefulness. You can even add your commute and favorite places to speed up getting where you want to go.
Waze, also owned by Google, is another worthy navigation app for CarPlay that is in many ways similar to Google Maps. The two services have been getting more alike over the years, but there are some differences. The first is how keen Waze is to change your route based on evolving traffic conditions. This may suit users in dense environments like busy cities better than those in rural areas. Waze does this by relying on its users and their willingness to make reports.
You might see more reports about traffic conditions on Waze, including police stops, map inaccuracies, and crashes. The app also has a different look and feel, with a less colorful map, a prominent “report” button, and the ability to customize how your vehicle displays on the map (which other users will see).
TomTom made a name for itself selling dedicated GPS units, but the world has moved on. The TomTom GO app for CarPlay fuses the best of both worlds: real-time, live traffic data and offline maps that work anywhere. The cost? About $24.99 per year for a premium subscription (free trial included).
TomTom GO does just about everything else you’d expect, including providing speed alerts, turn-by-turn directions, alternative route suggestions, and more. There are some quirky features like the ability to drive to a photo’s geotagged location or share your estimated time of arrival with contacts.
Which entertainment apps you spring for depends heavily on which premium services you shell out for each month. We’ve covered a few of our favorites below, but expect most major services to have CarPlay integration including Amazon Music, TIDAL, Pandora, SiriusXM, and YouTube Music.
The default “Music” app on iPhone lets you access the Apple Music streaming service in your car. The app focuses heavily on consuming music, mirroring the same tabulated format as the iPhone app, with limited interactions to discourage distracted driving. You can access “Top Picks” and stations based on your activity, browse your library, and access Radio, but your ability to add songs to playlists and manually search for music that’s not in your library has been removed.
Fortunately, you can ask Siri to do those things instead. Apple Music also integrates radio stations across the globe (with TuneIn integration), plus Apple’s own Apple Music 1, Apple Music Hits, and Apple Music Country stations (which you can listen to for free without a subscription).
Spotify is to Apple Music what Google Maps is to Apple Maps: the obvious, third-party alternative. The CarPlay app works much in the way you’d expect, with a Home tab featuring recommendations, a Recently Played tab for music you’re currently into, a Browse tab for finding new things, and a tab for Your Library for picking out favorites you’ve already added.
It also integrates with Siri, just like Apple Music as long as you follow your command with “on Spotify”, for example, “play my Drum and Bass playlist on Spotify.” Spotify is a solid choice if you also want access to the service’s library of podcasts in addition to music.
The default Podcasts app on your iPhone also works great in CarPlay. This gives you access to Apple’s swelling library of (what were once iTunes) podcasts in your car. The interface is simple and boring, but the app works just fine as long as you’ve subscribed and set everything up on your iPhone first.
There is no perfect podcasts app, but if you consume a lot of podcasts you’ll probably have strong feelings on the matter. The two apps that stand out the most for iPhone are Pocket Casts and Overcast, both of which are premium apps with $9.99 yearly subscription models (though Pocket Casts also lets you pay monthly for $0.99).
Fortunately, both feature CarPlay support so whichever you choose can be used to listen to podcasts both offline and online in your car. If Apple Podcasts doesn’t cut it, one of these will.
Remember the days of adding music files to a device to listen to them? Evermusic lets you do just that, with full CarPlay integration. You can transfer files to your iPhone over a wireless connection with a web browser, using Finder or iTunes, by connecting cloud services, using a NAS or network drive, or using your iPhone’s Files app.
The app is ad-supported with a premium one-time $9.99 purchase to unlock full functionality (including unlimited cloud storage services, queuing, playlists, and more). The app supports most popular formats like MP3, AAC, M4A, WAV, AIFF, and M4R, but you may need to convert some audio files if you’re a fan of FLAC or OGG.
If you prefer to immerse yourself in a good story on those long drives, why not give Audible a shot? The Amazon-owned audiobook app enjoys full CarPlay functionality, including controls for fine-tuning your listening experience (like vocal tone adjustments and narration speed).
Audible syncs progress between devices, so if you listen on the web or read using a Fire tablet picking up where you left off using your iPhone isn’t a problem. The app works as both a player for titles you’ve purchased outright and a premium subscription service with a $15.99 monthly (or $7.99 “plus” monthly) charge.
Stream standard FM and AM radio plus over 100,000 online stations from around the world with the TuneIn app. The app has a huge variety of music, news, sports, podcasts, and more. Pick and save your favorite stations then access them in the car using TuneIn Radio’s CarPlay interface.
The app is ad-supported, but you can enjoy it without interruption (plus access live sports, and hear fewer ads on all stations) for a $9.99 monthly fee. If you pay for Apple Music, you already get access to TuneIn’s huge variety of radio stations, but you’ll need to use the Music app to access them.
BBC Sounds gives you access to an array of BBC live radio stations, podcasts, and clips ranging from news and current affairs to music, sport, entertainment, and special-interest shows. The app has full CarPlay integration, allowing you to access whatever BBC services are available in your area (you’ll need to log in first).
You can download content to listen offline, get personalized recommendations based on your listening history, or just browse through the BBC’s library of content so you’ll never be bored in the car again.
If you care enough about chiptune to curate a library of chiptune files in an app like Modizer so you can listen anywhere and anywhere, you’ll probably be interested in using the app in the car too. Thankfully, chiptune player Modizer has rudimentary CarPlay support that lets you listen to your carefully curated playlists in your car.
The app itself is a temperamental beast, so the best we can say is that CarPlay works as well as the main iPhone interface.
These apps don’t fit into the other two categories but are worth checking out anyway.
If you drive an electric car then you might be interested in PlugShare, an app that can help you find charging stations all over the world. In addition to functioning like a standard iPhone app, PlugShare has CarPlay integration that allows you to quickly boot it up in the car to find somewhere to plug in if you’re low on juice.
Previously known as HearHere, Autio is a unique CarPlay app that tells over 9000 location-based stories across the United States. The app has enlisted the aid of some famous voices to provide snippets of information as you drive. New stories are added weekly, and there’s even an option to be notified of when you’re near stories you haven’t yet heard.
One of the ultimate road trip apps, Autio has a niche appeal and a price tag to match. At the time of writing, you can subscribe for a whole year for $35.99, or get three years for $69.99.
Weather on the Way is a trip planner that pays special attention to the weather. You can use the app you plan your trip including the best route, the best time to leave, and a forecast for what to expect along the way. The app also features CarPlay integration, with full weather radar and current conditions for wherever you are.
The app works globally but severe weather warnings are limited to a handful of countries including the US, Canada, and EU member states. Your first five trips are eligible for free PRO treatment and then you can choose to pay $24.99 per year, $4.99 per month, or $84.99 for a lifetime subscription.
You can do all sorts of things with Siri while you’re driving, even in the absence of a dedicated app. For example, you can add things to Reminders or Notes, place calls, respond to text messages, and get information like news and sports results.
CarPlay is now more ubiquitous than ever, appearing as a standard feature in many cars (or as an optional extra in others). Check out the full list of CarPlay-enabled vehicles.
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