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Apple CarPlay apps make the iPhone great while on the road. If you have a compatible vehicle, CarPlay makes it easy to navigate, respond to messages, and play music. Let’s take a look at some of the best CarPlay apps you can use on your iPhone.
Built-In Apple CarPlay Apps
First, let’s look at the apps included with your iPhone that work with CarPlay.
Note that in addition to these, Siri can also access features of the built-in Calendar, Clock, Reminders, and other apps. You won’t see CarPlay icons for them, but you can use commands like Add paper towels to my grocery list or Set an alarm for 7am tomorrow.
The most important CarPlay app for navigation is Maps. Tap its icon, and you’ll get an overview view of your location. Hit the Destinations link and Maps will suggest places based on where you are. You can tap the icons at the top of screen to quickly find gas stations, food, and more.
Use the microphone button on your steering wheel, or tap the Microphone icon in the upper-right corner of the Destinations screen, and you can use Siri to start navigation instead.
Unsurprisingly, Apple Maps is the only navigation option available with CarPlay. That means you can’t use Google Maps or Waze.
The Phone app’s CarPlay integration lets you make and receive calls in your car. Opening the app lets you browse your contacts, open a dialer, review recent calls, or check your voicemail. However, since scanning through a list of contacts while driving is unsafe, you should just use Siri integration to say Call Sarah.
To message safely in the car, you can use the Messages app. Opening it lets you review your recent conversations, which is something only your passenger should do. Like with Phone, Siri makes sending messages easy. You can also have her read your received messages aloud.
Try saying Text Norah I’ll be home in 15 minutes or Read my text messages.
What’s a drive without the right music? Use the Music app with CarPlay to play music you’ve purchased from iTunes, or anything available on Apple Music if you’re a subscriber.
You can scroll through your playlists and other saved music by opening the app. Or just ask Siri to play your favorite artists, albums, genres, and more. Once you’re playing something, open the Now Playing app to easily adjust playback.
Prefer listening to podcasts on your commute instead of music? Use the Podcasts app to access the shows on your iPhone. Siri can also help with commands like Play the iPhone Fanatics podcast or Skip ahead one minute.
6. iBook Audiobooks
If you’ve purchased any audiobooks through Apple’s iBook service, you can have them read aloud to you in the car. Audiobooks are a great way to enjoy books if you don’t have time to sit down and read. However, if you haven’t purchased anything from Apple’s iBook store yet, check the below options for other audiobook providers.
Additional Apple CarPlay Apps
While the above apps come pre-installed on every iPhone, several third-party apps work with CarPlay as well. Apple keeps tight control over these, so there are only a few hand-picked apps. All of them support Siri for hand-free control.
You’ll see icons for any CarPlay-compatible apps on the CarPlay homescreen as long as they’re installed on your phone. In addition to the below apps, CarPlay works with car manufacturer apps for controlling your vehicle’s features.
Prefer to listen to radio in the car, but don’t have a favorite station nearby? iHeart Radio, one of the best radio apps for iOS, is available with CarPlay. Open it and you can browse hundreds of radio stations from across the country. For quick access, save your favorites on your phone before you start driving.
Download: iHeartRadio (Free)
WhatsApp is currently the only third-party messaging app available in CarPlay. It functions almost identically to the Messages app, except you can’t scroll through lists of conversations. All the voice commands you’d expect are here though, so you can have Siri read your incoming messages and respond via voice.
Download: WhatsApp (Free)
Spotify is one of Apple Music’s biggest competitors, so it’s great to see it available on CarPlay. Like other music apps, you can browse your playlists and other saved music through the interface, or just use Siri to start playing an album or genre. Remember that you’ll need Spotify Premium to listen ad-free and disable shuffle mode, though.
Download: Spotify (Free)
10. NPR One
Here’s one of the best CarPlay apps for those who prefer news over music or other entertainment in the car. NPR One’s CarPlay integration lets you catch up on public radio news, podcasts, and other stories. Use the quick Catch Up button to review the latest stories, or check Recommendations to see what the app thinks you’ll like.
Download: NPR One (Free)
More Apple CarPlay Apps for Audio
Many of the other best apps for CarPlay are quite similar to the above. They’re nearly all music, radio, podcast, or audiobook apps. To avoid redundancy, we’ll quickly mention a few of them here:
- Overcast: Popular podcast finder and player with plenty of features.
- Audible: Amazon-owned audiobook service that’s compatible with nearly every platform (unlike iBooks).
- Pandora: The best-known internet radio service that lets you create personalized stations for anything.
- Tidal: If you don’t use any of the other music apps, maybe Jay-Z’s hi-fi music service that promises better sound than the competition will appeal to you. Requires a subscription after free trial.
- MLB At Bat: The ultimate app for baseball fans, featuring highlights, scores, and more. Requires a subscription.
The Best iPhone CarPlay Apps
Apple has hand-selected only a few CarPlay apps, so it can’t compete with the amount of apps available for Android Auto.
However, all the apps available here are high-quality and provide the features that most drivers will want. Navigating with Maps, responding to messages by voice, and playing your favorite music, audiobooks, or podcasts all work great with CarPlay.
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