Best Apple CarPlay Apps: As Chosen by Experts (2023)

best carplay apps - featured image

CarPlay has been one of Apple’s most practical innovations, allowing users worldwide to access their favorite apps while driving in the safest, most practical way possible.

However, with such a wide array of options, deciding which apps will serve you best can be difficult.

The best Apple CarPlay Apps include Google Maps, Waze, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple’s Podcast App, TuneIn Radio, Apple’s iMessage, Whatsapp, and Audible.

wired carplay connection for comparison vs wireless carplay

Read on to learn more about some of the best CarPlay apps and how they can improve your driving experience.

Below, I’ll explore some of the best options you have in terms of specific categories and take you through a more comprehensive list of apps compatible with CarPlay.

Though most of them are built-in Apple apps, there are a few third-party ones as well that might surprise you!

Best CarPlay Apps – By Category

Since there are so many CarPlay apps across several categories, it’s difficult to compare them all to one another. So, below, I’ve singled out some of the best options you have in terms of:

  • Navigation – Google Maps
  • Music – Apple Music or Spotify
  • Podcasts – Apple Podcast App
  • Radio – TuneIn 
  • Communication – Default iPhone Apps or WhatsApp
  • Audiobooks – Audible

 

Navigation CarPlay Apps

Winner: Google Maps

Runners up: Waze & Apple Maps

Though many navigation apps have been created these last few decades, few come close to the accuracy and speed of our all-time favorites. That’s why most experts argue that Google Maps remains the best navigation CarPlay app for iPhone.

Just by checking out online reviews, you can see how highly rated Google maps is compared to other navigation apps — and for a good reason. Few of its competitors offer directions as accurate or fast as those you’ll find in Google Maps.

Moreover, the app provides real-time traffic updates and helpful information about nearby businesses; you just can’t beat this level of convenience. The intuitive interface also makes it easy for all users to get the hang of, even if they’ve never used a navigation app before.

google maps carplay directions screen

This level of user-friendliness also makes Google Maps an all-time favorite among CarPlay users. Also, many appreciate the real-time voice-guided directions, which allow them to stay focused on the road while driving.

However, arguably the biggest advantage that this app offers its users is that it holds the largest database of local businesses and points of interest. If there’s a location you can’t seem to find in any other navigation app, chances are you’ll find it in Google Maps. It’s also highly accurate, even in real-time. This is especially handy if you need to make a lot of turns fast.

Navigation CarPlay Apps – Runner up

However, as with all other apps mentioned in this article, Google Maps isn’t perfect. Many users have still reported facing some issues while using it. If that’s you, the good news is that there are some comparable apps that you might like better.

Waze, for example, is another app that offers real-time traffic updates and community-based driving directions. The app is best known for its ability to provide real-time updates on road availability, so you can avoid traffic or road blockages in time. 

waze carplay navigation screen

Moreover, just like Google Maps, Waze also offers voice-guided directions, so you can get to your destination without having to shift your focus from driving. The best thing about this app though is the community feel, which Waze is notorious for. The app allows you to see other Waze users on the road, and you can “report” issues, while you driving, such as flooding, police speed traps, roadworks, and more, to help other drivers out.

Waze CarPlay Settings Report
Waze CarPlay Settings Report

 

Music CarPlay Apps

Winner: Apple Music

Runners Up: Spotify & Amazon Music

A drive is as pleasant as the music selection accompanying it, so only use the very best music CarPlay apps. I’m afraid there’s no better app than Apple Music in this category. It integrates beautifully with CarPlay without you having to put in any effort.

Apple CarPlay Music Screen
 

Apple Music is a streaming service that offers one of the vastest libraries of songs and radio stations, so you can rest assured that you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for there. Its seamless integration with CarPlay allows you to always bring your favorite playlists while on the road.

One of its best features is that it creates a personalized listening experience, analyzing your music preferences and curating suggestions tailored to you. It’s also straightforward to use while driving, as you can browse your library, skip tracks, or even control playback using the CarPlay interface, so you can enjoy your favorite tunes while still keeping your eye on the road.

Music CarPlay Apps – Runner up

However, it’s important to note that there’s a wide array of CarPlay-friendly apps to choose from when it comes to music. So, if Apple Music doesn’t do it for you, you can always switch to Spotify.

spotify carplay app playing song
spotify carplay app playing song

Though chances are you’re already familiar with it, Spotify is one of the most popular streaming apps that give users access to a seemingly endless array of songs, albums, and even podcasts. This app can also give tailored suggestions based on your listening history, so you might find some new songs to jam to while using it.

Last but not least, I want to give a shoutout to Amazon Music, which is 100% free for Prime Members. If you have an Amazon membership, why not make the most of it and choose Amazon Music as your CarPlay app of choice?

Amazon Music Carplay Playing screen
Amazon Music Carplay Playing screen

Not only does it give you access to a vast and diverse audio library, but it’s also integrable with Alexa. If you prefer Alexa over Siri, then that’s a plus. You won’t have to take your eyes off the road for a single second to change tracks or search for your favorite podcast.

Many of these apps are similar in terms of functionality and variety of music, so ultimately, it will be down to your preference or whichever subscription/platform your already paying for.

Podcast CarPlay Apps

Winner: Apple’s Podcast App

Runner up: Spotify

When it comes to listening to podcasts, I recommend going simple and sticking to Apple’s own podcast app. Though there are plenty of competitors CarPlay Podcast apps on the market with many bells and whistles, none integrate with CarPlay quite as well as Apple’s app.

apple podcasts app - library screen 2

It allows you to browse through thousands of podcasts, giving you updated suggestions based on your previous listening history or subscription list. The app also offers playback controls optimized for driving, e.g., large, bright buttons, so your focus stays on the road.

That way, you can easily browse through the podcasts you’ve subscribed to and select the ones you feel like putting on. The majority of podcasts upload to the apple podcast platform, so you should be able to find them all this way. However, you may want to save them on your phone before driving, as it can be hard to find new shows from the CarPlay interface.

If you prefer to use Spotify for music, you might be surprised to learn that Spotify has all the popular podcasts on it, too, as well as some exclusive podcasts. 

spotify carplay podcast app - now playing screen

 

Radio CarPlay Apps

Winner: TuneIn radio

If you’re not in the mood to listen to the same driving playlist for the hundredth time, finding a good radio might be what you’re looking for. However, since carplay doesn’t work with your cars FM radio, you’ll need to use a digital radio. Thankfully there are some CarPlay radio apps that have thousands of radio stations on them!

That’s exactly what TuneIn CarPlay radio App is, so if you like to discover new content while on the road, I highly recommend checking it out. The app gives you access to thousands of radio stations and podcasts worldwide. Plus, it’s very easy to integrate with CarPlay. It also tailors suggestions for you based on your location and listening history, so it really doesn’t get any more convenient than this.

tunein caplay app - home screen

Communication CarPlay Apps

Winner: Default iPhone Apps

Runner up: WhatsApp

The need to communicate while on the road is one of the main reasons why so many drivers rely on CarPlay in the first place. And when it comes to the best apps to integrate with the system, nothing really beats Apple’s own iMessage or phone app.

It’s hands-down the easiest communication app to use through CarPlay. It allows you to make phone calls and access your contact list without ever taking your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel.

whatsapp carplay busy options

 

Communications CarPlay App – Runner up

With that said, if you’re looking for something more versatile, the WhatsApp CarPlay App is also surprisingly compatible with CarPlay. You can simply access and respond to messages using Siri, so again, your focus stays on driving.

whatsapp carplay audio call

WhatsApp allows you to check your missed messages and calls through the dashboard, but you can also send new messages or call someone. 

whatsapp carplay app home screen

Audiobooks CarPlay Apps

Winner: Audible

If you’re tired of listening to the same songs and podcasts while driving, why not listen to an audiobook? Turning that tiring commute into some you-time when you can enjoy your favorite books can be a game-changer. And when accessing a vast library of audiobooks, there’s no competition for Audible CarPlay App.

The app is compatible with CarPlay, allowing you to browse through your library or search for specific genres or titles safely while driving. However, if you’re ever in the mood for a podcast between books, you can find those too on Audible, so it’s far more versatile than what most people give it credit for.

audible carplay podcast app - podcasts screen

It also tailors title or author suggestions depending on your preferences. Finding new audiobooks to enjoy has never been easier if you want to get out of your comfort zone.

Moreover, if you want to rewind to certain parts or skip forward, the app also allows you to do that, so you can optimize your listening experience without ever taking your eyes off the road.

CarPlay Apps List

If you’re looking for a more thorough CarPlay apps list, you can check them out below where they also link to the Apple app store so you can download them:

 

If you know of any other apps or have created a CarPlay app, let me know, and I will add it to the list :).

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Alex
I loved my car but was frustrated with my media system. So I upgraded my stereo, making silly wires and precarious phone mounts a thing of the past. The Apple Car Play stereo was so good I wanted to show more people how this could be done and truly upgrade their cars multimedia system! Founder StereoUpgrade.com
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