CarPlay by Apple has changed the way that people drive, making roadways safer for all drivers.
The apps give users access to their iPhone from the vehicle’s display, allowing them to reply to texts, and answer or make calls in hands-free mode using Siri.
CarPlay is especially handy for navigation, as it allows users to find their way around without having to handle their mobile devices.
I have spent well over +100 hours using these free carplay navigation apps to confidently recommend the following applications.
Best CarPlay Navigation Apps (Ranked)
- Google Maps – (Best all-round)
- Apple Map – (Best integration)
- Waze – (Best community experience)
- TomTom Go – (Best paid app)
*Much of this is down to option and preference as the top 3; Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze are VERY similar.
My favorite CarPlay navigation app is Google Maps because of the mass amount of data Google has. Because of this, address data and traffic information are the most accurate out of any app and, therefore, the most convenient. Second is Apple Maps, due to its perfect integration with CarPlay, by Siri.
This article dives deep into four of the most popular navigation apps that work with CarPlay.
I’ll list popular features, pros, and cons, and discuss how to access the app on your CarPlay display. Read on to learn more.
1. Google Maps
Google Maps is one of the most commonly used navigation apps in the world.
It’s renowned for its accuracy, features, and ease of use. The app provides detailed directions to get you where you’re going safely and efficiently.
Some of the most popular features of Google Maps include:
- Live traffic updates (Based on crowdsourced data from millions of users)
- Most accurate location & place data
- Speed traps and police alerts
- Estimated arrival time
Additionally, Google Maps features millions of businesses located throughout 220 countries.
You can find local dining, events, and activities that appeal to you based on location. Users can also view trending locations and venues recommended by local experts and Google itself.
This is the most accurate and wide-reaching compared with other apps.
An example of this is based on the website version:
To integrate Google Maps into your Apple CarPlay dashboard:
- Download the Google Maps app onto your iPhone.
- Activate CarPlay by connecting your iPhone to your vehicle via USB or Wirelessly.
- Locate Google Maps on the CarPlay display.
- Tap it to launch.
The pros of using Google Maps with Apple CarPlay include:
- Ease of use
A couple of drawbacks of using Google Maps with CarPlay include:
- No full voice command option with Apple CarPlay (Although, this does work in limited aspects)
- Non-native app experience
Unfortunately, integration isn’t as seamless with Google Maps as it is with Apple Maps. You cannot use Siri voice commands natively, as Google does not run on iOS.
Because of this, Google Maps CarPlay isn’t as safe to use while on the road, but I do not feel this should stop you from downloading the app.
Download the app here: Google Maps – Apple App Store
In case you are not aware, CarPlay is not an App but instead is integrated into your iPhone. Therefore to download CarPlay apps, you install the regular it as normal on your iPhone from the app store.
If you want help setting up the app, see our article on the Google Maps CarPlay settings.
2. Apple Maps
It goes without saying that Apple Maps is a go-to for most iPhone users due to its ease of integration.
Using Apple Maps with CarPlay also creates a monopolized Apple system from your phone to your car, simplifying things and making the experience far more seamless.
With Apple Maps, you can sit at home and research restaurant locations and then hop in your car and receive directions through the onboard navigation system.
It’s super convenient and easy to use.
Here’s how to use Apple Maps with Apple CarPlay:
- Connect your iPhone to your CarPlay-compatible vehicle via USB or wirelessly.
- Select the Apple Maps app on the CarPlay display.
- Use Siri voice commands to access directions to your desired location. Or type them in manually.
While Apple Maps has had a poor reputation in the past, the quality of the app has improved significantly over the years.
Some of the pros of using Apple Maps with Apple CarPlay include:
- Seamless integration
- Convenience of running an all-iOS system
- Hands-free navigation
- Heavy use of voice commands with Siri
A few cons of Apple Maps include:
- Sometimes provides unreliable directions
- Delayed response time
- Less business and address information
It makes sense that Apple Maps is a popular navigation app to use with CarPlay.
After all, many iPhone users prefer operating exclusively on the iOS system.
Download the app here: You don’t need to it’s already installed on all iPhones by default!
If you want help setting up the app, see our article on Apple maps CarPlay settings.
While Google Maps offers dozens of features, Waze tops it with its feature-rich app.
Waze provides numerous navigational benefits for those using CarPlay, including:
- Live traffic updates
- More specific information about accidents and traffic congestion
- Police and speed trap alerts
- User reporting
Not only does Waze help drivers reach their destination more quickly, but it also helps them drive safer.
The app features a speedometer that turns red when traveling over the speed limit and also alerts drivers to potholes, construction, and other driving impediments.
The main selling point of the app is that it’s a “community driving platform” where users report problems as they drive to help everyone. This is why it was first used mainly by Taxi drivers.
I can tell you from first-hand experience it has saved me multiple times with let’s regarding large potholes, debris on the road, and broken down vehicles.
Here’s how to use Waze with Apple CarPlay.
- Download Waze on your iPhone.
- Connect your iPhone to your vehicle via USB or wirelessly.
- Access the CarPlay dashboard on the display.
- Tap the Waze app to begin using the navigation features.
The best parts about using Waze with Apple CarPlay include:
- Dozens of useful driving features
- Pothole and construction alerts
- Built-in speedometer setting
- Traffic camera alerts
The cons of using Waze with Apple CarPlay are:
- Crowd-sourced information may be inaccurate at times
- Sometimes glitches when running on Apple CarPlay
- Feature-rich, so it may lead to distracted driving
Waze is one of the newest navigational apps to work with CarPlay.
It provides an almost incomprehensible amount of navigation information about your route, making it one of the best apps for those who prefer a feature-rich community experience.
Download the app here: Waze – Apple App Store
If you want help setting up the app, see our article on Waze CarPlay Settings.
4. TomTom Go
TomTom and Garmin dominated the vehicle navigation game for a long time until onboard navigation became the standard in modern vehicles.
However, TomTom hasn’t lost its touch — it remains an excellent navigation tool to this day.
Interestingly, Apple once used TomTom’s data to create navigation data in Apple Maps. However, they no longer use this data today.
The TomTom Go app is regarded as on par with Google Maps for CarPlay. Some users who rely on apps strictly for navigation prefer TomTom Go because of its simple, real-time data without all of the extras.
Unfortunately, TomTom Go is a paid service which is why its app is at the bottom of this list.
I personally find it hard to justify paying when you have such good alternatives.
This is the cost at the time of writing:
- Monthly Plan – $4.99
- Yearly Plan – $22.99
- Family Plan – $33.99 (Up to 5 people)
See more pricing information here.
The navigation app runs alongside music apps and doesn’t interfere with phone calls, so you’ll never miss a turn because you’re busy changing the song or taking a call.
Using TomTom Go with Apple CarPlay is simple.
Just follow these simple steps:
- Download TomTom Go on your iPhone.
- Activate CarPlay by connecting your phone to your vehicle.
- Tap on the TomTom Go app on the CarPlay display.
Apple CarPlay automatically adjusts the interface of the TomTom Go app, so users don’t get the native experience they’re used to when using the app on CarPlay. However, some users find it easier to use the interface template provided by Apple.
Some pros of using the TomTom Go app with Apple CarPlay include:
- Real-time location data
- A wealth of road-based data (Such as which lane to use)
A few cons of TomTom Go on Apple CarPlay are:
- The app is paid
- Some issues with location detection
- No voice command options
- Does not list variances in speed limits on some roads
Despite sounding like an outdated name in the auto navigation industry, TomTom has built a solid app that users can utilize with Apple CarPlay.
If you want to pay for the app, it is a solid option, but for most people will not be necessary.
Download the app here: TomTom Go – Apple App Store (You’ll also need to sign up & pay)
Other CarPlay Navigation Apps
Apple Maps, Google Maps, TomTom Go, and Waze provide excellent navigation features for those who spend a good amount of time on the road — but they aren’t the only navigation apps available for use with Apple CarPlay.
Many users have experienced success using other lesser-known apps.
If you’re interested in trying these apps with Apple CarPlay, check out the brief list of honorable mentions below:
- Karta GPS – Free navigation app with offline and online maps
- Magic Earth Navigation and Maps – Feature-rich app that provides ways to avoid traffic, lane guidance, speed camera alerts, and more
- Hudway Go – Simple and straightforward navigation app with little distractions
- Sygic GPS Navigation and Maps – Navigation app offering online and offline maps and advanced safety features
- HERE WeGo City Navigation
- T Map for All
- Baidu Maps (Chinese)
If you face any problems with the navigation apps mentioned, see our article on some of the most common CarPlay GPS problems and how to fix them.