The Best CarPlay Apps for Navigating, Entertainment, and More

Apple CarPlay
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CarPlay allows you to use compatible iPhone apps in your car with a streamlined 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

Mobility

Instead of mounting your iPhone on your dashboard and using it as a floating GPS device, CarPlay integrates your favorite navigation apps right into your car’s dashboard. That alone is reason to consider adding CarPlay to your car, if you don’t already have it.

Apple Maps

Apple Maps CarPlay interface

Apple Maps had a rocky start in 2012 when it first launched, but things have improved dramatically over the past decade. The app has all the elements you’d expect from a modern navigation app including turn-by-turn directions (which use your chosen Siri voice), speed limit and traffic hazard warnings, real-time traffic information, lane guidance, and more.

The maps look great, and the app uses Siri to make helpful predictions; For example, if someone sends you an address in Messages, Maps will offer to direct you there. It also learns based on your habits, offering a one-touch route to shared locations at the right time of day. If you haven’t tried Apple Maps recently, it’s definitely worth a second chance.

Google Maps

Google CarPlay Maps interface

If Apple Maps is not for you, Google Maps is arguably the best alternative. The search giant’s mapping service serves a large number of users every day, which means that it’s probably the best-maintained navigation app that 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 trove of real-time traffic data to pull to give you up-to-date information on conditions, speed limits, and reports. Google is even integrating crowd-sourced reports from Waze into the app now, which enhances its usefulness. You can also add your commute and favorite places to make it faster to get to where you need to go.

Waze

Waze CarPlay interface when reporting an accident

Waze, also owned by Google, is another CarPlay-worthy navigation app that looks a lot like Google Maps. The two services have become more similar over the years, but there are some differences. The first is how carefully Waze changes your route based on evolving traffic conditions. This may suit users in dense environments such as crowded cities better than those in rural areas. Waze does this by relying on its users and their willingness to generate reports.

You may see more reports about traffic conditions on Waze, including police stops, map inaccuracies, and traffic accidents. 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 car is displayed on the map (which other users will see).

Tom Tom Joe

TomTom has made a name for itself by selling custom GPS units, but the world has moved on. TomTom GO for CarPlay combines 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).

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TomTom GO does almost everything 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 ETA with contacts.

entertainment

The entertainment apps you go for depends largely on the premium services you provide 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.

Apple Music

Apple Music CarPlay interface

The default Music app on your iPhone lets you access Apple’s music streaming service in your car. The app focuses heavily on music consumption, mirroring the same scheduled 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 not in your library has been removed.

Fortunately, you can ask Siri to do these things instead. Apple Music also integrates radio stations around the world (with TuneIn integration), as well as Apple Music 1, Apple Music Hits, and Apple Music Country (which you can listen to for free without a subscription).

Spotify

Spotify is to Apple Music what Google Maps is to Apple Maps: the obvious third-party alternative. CarPlay works much the way you’d expect it to, with a Home tab showing recommendations, a Recently Played tab for the music you’re currently listening to, a Browse tab for finding new stuff, and a Library tab for picking up favorites I’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.

Related: 6 cool Spotify features you must be using

Apple Podcast

Apple Podcasts CarPlay interface

The default Podcasts app on the iPhone also works great in CarPlay. This gives you access to Apple’s bloated library of podcasts (that was once iTunes) in your car. The interface is plain and boring, but the app works fine as long as you sign up and set everything up on your iPhone first.

Pocket or cloudy cast

No podcast app is perfect, but if you consume a lot of podcasts, you probably have strong feelings about it. The two most unique apps for the iPhone are Pocket Casts and Overcast, both premium apps with $9.99 annual subscription models (although Pocket Casts also lets you pay monthly for $0.99).

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Fortunately, both feature CarPlay support, so whichever one you choose can be used to listen to podcasts both offline and online in your car. If Apple Podcasts just won’t cut it, one of those will do.

Ever Music

Evermusic CarPlay interface

Remember the days of adding music files to a device to listen to? Evermusic lets you do just that, with full integration with CarPlay. You can transfer files to your iPhone over a wireless connection using a web browser, using the 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 one-time $9.99 premium purchase to unlock full functionality (including unlimited cloud storage services, queues, playlists, and more). The application supports most of the popular formats such as MP3, AAC, M4A, WAV, AIFF, and M4R, but you may need to convert some audio files if you are a fan of FLAC or OGG.

Related: What are the differences between MP3, FLAC, and other audio formats?

audible

If you’d rather immerse yourself in a good story during those long drives, why not give Audible a chance? The Amazon-owned audiobook app has full CarPlay functionality, including controls to fine-tune your listening experience (such as adjustments to pitch and narration speed).

Audible syncs progress between devices, so if you’re listening on the web or reading with your Fire Tablet you left off with your iPhone, that’s no problem. The app acts as a launcher for titles you’ve purchased outright and a premium subscription service for $15.99 per month (or $7.99 per month “plus”).

Related: How to save money on audiobooks

TuneIn Radio

TuneIn Radio CarPlay interface

Stream standard FM and AM radio plus over 100,000 online stations from around the world with the TuneIn app. The app has a large variety of music, news, sports, podcasts, and more. Choose and save your favorite stations and 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 to live sports, and hear fewer ads on all stations) for a monthly fee of $9.99. If you pay for Apple Music, you can actually access TuneIn’s massive collection of radio stations, but you’ll need to use the Music app to access them.

BBC Sounds

BBC Sounds gives you access to a range of live BBC radio stations, podcasts and clips ranging from news and current affairs to music, sports, entertainment and special interest shows. The app has full CarPlay integration, giving you access to BBC services available in your area (you’ll need to log in first).

You can download content to listen to offline, get personalized recommendations based on your listening history, or browse the BBC’s content library so you’ll never be bored in a car again.

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Modizer CarPlay interface

If you care enough about chiptune to organize a library of chiptune files into an app like Modizer so you can listen anywhere and anywhere, you’ll probably be interested in using the app in the car, too. Fortunately, the chiptune player Modizer has rudimentary CarPlay support that lets you listen to your car’s carefully curated playlists.

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The app itself is a moody beast, so the best we can say is that CarPlay works as well as the main iPhone interface.

Related: Video game soundtracks are great background music for focus

Everything else

These apps don’t fit into the other two categories but are worth checking out anyway.

PlugShare

PlugShare CarPlay interface

If you drive an electric vehicle, you might be interested in PlugShare, an app that can help you find charging stations around the world. In addition to working like a standard iPhone app, PlugShare has CarPlay integration that allows you to quickly launch it in the car to find a place to plug it in if you’re running low on power.

The app lists the type of charger including wattage with pictures of the charging station where available. You can plan trips and access them in your car, or bookmark chargers for later access.

Auto travel companion

Formerly known as HearHere, Autio is a one-of-a-kind CarPlay app that tells more than 9,000 location-based stories across the US. The app has enlisted the help of some famous voices to provide snippets of information while driving. New stories are added weekly, and there’s also an option to be notified when you’re near stories you haven’t heard yet.

One of the best road trip apps out there, Autio has its own charm and affordable price. At the time of writing, you can subscribe for a full year for $35.99, or get three years for $69.99.

weather on the road

Weather in the CarPlay interface way

Weather on the Way is a trip planner that pays special attention to the weather. You can use the app to plan your trip including the best route, best departure time, and a forecast of what to expect along the way. The app also features CarPlay integration, with full weather radar and current conditions wherever you are.

The app works globally, but severe weather warnings are limited to a few countries including the United States, Canada, and European Union member states. Your first five trips qualify for FREE PRO treatment, after which you can choose to pay $24.99 annually, $4.99 per month, or $84.99 for a lifetime subscription.

Don’t forget Siri

You can do all sorts of things with Siri while you’re driving, even when you don’t have a dedicated app. For example, you can add things to Reminders or Notes, make calls, respond to text messages, and get information like news and sports scores.

CarPlay is now more widespread than ever, appearing as a standard feature in many cars (or as an extra option in others). Check out the full list of CarPlay-enabled vehicles.



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