The best apps for Apple CarPlay

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 2023
Ahead of Apple's full CarPlay overhaul later this year, we wanted to highlight a few of our favorite apps for Apple's in-car system.

CarPlay apps
Some of our favorite CarPlay apps


CarPlay, available in nearly all new vehicles, provides an iPhone-like interface on your car's built-in infotainment system. Between its familiarity and ease of use, it's become a must-have for iPhone owners.

The number of apps has continued to grow as more developers integrate CarPlay functionality into their apps, and as Apple adds new app categories to the platform.

Some apps continue to offer lackluster experiences -- we're looking at you SiriusXM -- but others are invaluable. Here are our current top apps that support CarPlay.

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Panera

It's easy to find your way to the nearest cafe to get your daily carb and coffee fix in the Panera CarPlay app. What's most impressive is the ability to order directly through your car's screen.

Order in the Panera Bread app
Order in the Panera Bread app


You can peruse your recent orders or fan favorites. Just tap an item to add it to your cart, view your cart, and tap checkout to send your order.

It's super useful for frequent visitors who can send along their daily orders, all with no more than a few taps on the screen.

Audible

Apple has its audiobook store, though we've always been partial to Amazon-owned Audible. It has a massive library of audiobooks and a growing selection of Amazon original stories narrated by some of the best actors out of Hollywood.

Audible
Audible app in CarPlay


The Audible CarPlay app shows you your audiobook and podcast libraries and any collections you've set up. You can adjust playback speed, jump chapters, and more while listening to a book or podcast.

Chevron

Apple added fuel apps as a category type with iOS 16 and Chevron is one of, if not the first, to support it. With the Chevron app in CarPlay, you can pay for your fuel without leaving your vehicle.

Pay for your fuel with the Chevron app
Pay for your fuel in the Chevron app


Once you pull into a Chevron or Texaco station, the app will automatically detect your location. You can then choose your pump number and charge your on-file payment for as much fuel as you dispense.

The app also lets you find your nearest station if you're partial to their brand versus others in a more generic mapping application.

MLB

Many sports leagues have dedicated apps like the NBA and NHL, but our favorite's been MLB. You can change the app icon to represent your favorite team, which shows on the CarPlay interface the same way as it does on iPhone and iPad.

With a corresponding MLB subscription, you can get loads of audio content through the league's first-party app. During baseball season, it's a great companion app.

The downside is that there's no content available for non-subscribers. When you launch the app without a subscription, an alert appears to let you know to subscribe within the iOS app, which isn't advisable to do when behind the wheel.

Brave

The browser wars on macOS and iOS has been heating up, especially as rumors swirl that Apple will drop its webKit requirement in iOS 17. Brave, available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, tries to set itself apart with several seldom-seen features.

Brave browser has a CarPlay app
Brave browser has a CarPlay app


For CarPlay users, you can play audio directly from the car interface. If you save a video from YouTube or other locations on the Brave browser on iOS, you can then listen along to it when you hop into the car.

The app won't play the video for obvious reasons, but the audio is supported. This makes it a great way to keep up with video podcasts, storytellers, and other video series where the visuals aren't important.

Overcast

If you're looking for a more verbose podcast app than Apple's own, Overcast is an excellent choice. Its iOS app is packed full of useful features, and its CarPlay interface is quite good too.

Overcast is a great podcast player
Overcast is a great podcast player


You can filter the app by recent podcasts to quickly jump into your last listen or you can view all podcasts you've subscribed to.

The CarPlay app has a favorite button, playback speed controls, and chapter selection when listening to a podcast. The chapters also support custom artwork if the podcast creator set them up.

The best feature though is support for both Smart Speed and Voice Boost. The former helps decrease listening time by cutting out dead time and the latter helps make voices easier to understand.

Waze

Apple Maps has improved significantly since its launch, but many users still turn to third-party mapping applications. Waze is arguably the most popular with its ability to reroute you mid-journey so you always arrive as fast as possible.

Navigate quickly with Waze
Navigate quickly with Waze


With Waze, you can also see the current speed limit, railroad tracks, construction, stop lights, and more. Plus, it supports the CarPlay split-screen dashboard so you can see your media while you navigate.

While navigating in Waze, you can also report road incidents. You can flag speed traps, traffic, crashes, and hazards, which can potentially help other road users equipped with the same app.

A new CarPlay coming soon

Starting in late 2023, Apple will begin shipping an updated version of CarPlay that has the potential to support all the screens in your vehicle as well as control vital car systems like the AC or seat positions.

A revamped CarPlay is on the way
A revamped CarPlay is on the way


Apple previewed the new system at WWDC 2022 with iOS 16 but will start rolling out to select vehicles with iOS 17.

Unfortunately, there will be a slow adoption rate for the next generation of CarPlay. Only a few luxury auto manufacturers have signed up thus far, and it will likely be years before most mass-market vehicles support it.

It will be a long wait, but it will be worth it in the end.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,969member
    Amen on Sirius; what’s wrong with those people?! Thank god the AppleTV app and remote are not on CarPlay, both are notoriously poorly designed software and hardware. In fairness to Apple, all streaming apps suck, but at least having a good remote like TiVo’s doesn’t make them suck worse. Every time I pick up my ATV remote I invoke Siri. 
  • Reply 2 of 21
    mitchlamitchla Posts: 8member
    Just give me the compass heading in the "Detailed" view of Apple Maps. It won't take up very much room to put in an N.  They could even put it on the app icon.

    And does the" high level view" need to be from outer space? Zoom in a little.
    Anilu_777lolliver
  • Reply 3 of 21
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,192member
    Even though I have a digital dashboard and a HUD, I am pretty sure the car mnaufacturer won’t update their systems in my car to accomodate these new carplay features. 
    You have to buy a new, top of the range machine for that.
    twokatmewbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 4 of 21
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,192member
    Amen on Sirius; what’s wrong with those people?! Thank god the AppleTV app and remote are not on CarPlay, both are notoriously poorly designed software and hardware. In fairness to Apple, all streaming apps suck, but at least having a good remote like TiVo’s doesn’t make them suck worse. Every time I pick up my ATV remote I invoke Siri. 
    At least your remote works. I am constantly having to reset the remote or reboot the whole ATV to get it to work. I would have to say the USBC ATV remote is by far the worst apple product I have ever used.
  • Reply 5 of 21
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,415member
    I'm kind of surprised that apps like iExit aren't mentioned or not available on CarPlay. 
    edited March 2023
  • Reply 6 of 21
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,969member
    I’m not even sure HOW to download an app onto CarPlay. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 21
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,969member
    JP234 said:
    Good or bad, a Sirius XM app is redundant. Any car with Apple CarPlay also has Sirius built into the car's radio (The antenna is in the shark fin on your roof). And it works just like the AM/FM channels.

    The only reason to use any of the other apps is to use Siri and keep your eyes on the road, instead of fiddling with a dash screen in traffic. You DO use Siri, right?
    Right, but for those of us with an older car who bought a newer head unit to get CarPlay, the “built in” version is as bad as the CarPlay one, just in different ways. 
    JP234
  • Reply 8 of 21
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,031member
    I’m not even sure HOW to download an app onto CarPlay. 
    If an app on your iPhone has CarPlay functionality, it will appear on the CarPlay screen. If it doesn’t, it won’t. You don’t actually download an app onto CarPlay. 

    CarPlay is essentially a “dumb terminal” screen in your car that’s entirely dependent on your iPhone for functionality. None of the apps actually reside in the device in the car. 
    Anilu_777watto_cobralolliver
  • Reply 9 of 21
    What car is in all of these pictures? I absolutely hate how it displays CarPlay with a third of the screen taken up by shit that I don't need to be seeing. That whole bottom row of buttons has to go. Just put a physical home button to get to the car's own home screen, or fit in a virtual one up top in place of the unneeded and hardly readable "now playing" bs.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 21
    djames4242djames4242 Posts: 651member
    JP234 said:
    Good or bad, a Sirius XM app is redundant. Any car with Apple CarPlay also has Sirius built into the car's radio (The antenna is in the shark fin on your roof). And it works just like the AM/FM channels.

    The only reason to use any of the other apps is to use Siri and keep your eyes on the road, instead of fiddling with a dash screen in traffic. You DO use Siri, right?
    Not true. My wife’s previous company car (2019 RAV4) had CarPlay but not a XM tuner. The only way to tune in to XM was through her phone.
    watto_cobraJP234lolliver
  • Reply 11 of 21
    SezwhutSezwhut Posts: 12member
    Still have a stock stereo with no CarPlay...I was thinking of getting an aftermarket stereo now that I have a more current phone for CarPlay - should I wait for the next iteration of CarPlay or does it even matter? Anyone know?

  • Reply 12 of 21
    rockawrockaw Posts: 23member
    JP234 said:
    Good or bad, a Sirius XM app is redundant. Any car with Apple CarPlay also has Sirius built into the car's radio (The antenna is in the shark fin on your roof). And it works just like the AM/FM channels.

    The only reason to use any of the other apps is to use Siri and keep your eyes on the road, instead of fiddling with a dash screen in traffic. You DO use Siri, right?
    It's really not redundant, but it is awful. In our family, we have three vehicles. All came with SiriusXM. We let two of the trial subscriptions expire and only pay for one overpriced SiriusXM subscription. That one subscription lets you use the app anywhere else, including the other two cars.
    JP234
  • Reply 13 of 21
    kiehtankiehtan Posts: 39member
    From your phone: settings...general...CarPlay...the car you're connected to....customize 

    robin huber said:
    I’m not even sure HOW to download an app onto CarPlay. 

    dewme
  • Reply 14 of 21
    jayweissjayweiss Posts: 69member
    You can view CarPlay capable apps by going to Settings/General/CarPlay, selecting your vehicle, and clicking on Customize. This will show you all the CarPlay capable apps and allow you to remove/add them to what shows up on your vehicle display. 


    edited March 2023 dewme
  • Reply 15 of 21
    dutchlorddutchlord Posts: 223member
    My 2002 Lexus LX470 will be free from any distracting Carplay apps for sure and will definitely not integrate with other car screens as there are none to integrate with. Instead, I have a 12.9 inch iPad on a Seasucker mount with full iPad OS functionality providing almost Tesla style comfort to my 20 year old truck.
  • Reply 16 of 21
    DrummerladDrummerlad Posts: 20unconfirmed, member
    Amen on Sirius; what’s wrong with those people?! Thank god the AppleTV app and remote are not on CarPlay, both are notoriously poorly designed software and hardware. In fairness to Apple, all streaming apps suck, but at least having a good remote like TiVo’s doesn’t make them suck worse. Every time I pick up my ATV remote I invoke Siri. 
    I can’t believe Sirius is still in business.  The lack of fidelity on that platform for me makes it unusable.  It is horrible.  
    AppleZulu
  • Reply 17 of 21
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,031member
    Sezwhut said:
    Still have a stock stereo with no CarPlay...I was thinking of getting an aftermarket stereo now that I have a more current phone for CarPlay - should I wait for the next iteration of CarPlay or does it even matter? Anyone know?

    It appears the primary enhancements in upcoming CarPlay versions are about direct integration with other screens in your car (e.g., digital speedometer, etc.) and with controlling the air conditioner and such. Likely none of that will affect your use case. Get a high quality aftermarket head and start using wireless CarPlay. Have it professionally installed. They make custom dashboard inserts that will make your new device look like it came with the car. You’ll wonder why you waited so long to do this, and if your old car has been well maintained and gets good mileage, the upgrade will make you content to hang on to the vehicle for an additional 100,000 miles, which will make the investment in the radio a wise financial choice. 
    edited March 2023 dewmeSezwhut
  • Reply 18 of 21
    JP234 said:
    JP234 said:
    Good or bad, a Sirius XM app is redundant. Any car with Apple CarPlay also has Sirius built into the car's radio (The antenna is in the shark fin on your roof). And it works just like the AM/FM channels.

    The only reason to use any of the other apps is to use Siri and keep your eyes on the road, instead of fiddling with a dash screen in traffic. You DO use Siri, right?
    Not true. My wife’s previous company car (2019 RAV4) had CarPlay but not a XM tuner. The only way to tune in to XM was through her phone.
    That was your choice, therefore your fault. The excellent 2019 RAV4 (which is owned by my best friend) had XM standard on the Adventure and Limited Trims, and came with the audio upgrade on the XLE and XLE Premium trims. While the audio upgrade was not available on the LE trim level (or you didn't buy the audio upgrade), there is a dealer-installed option, but the antenna would have to be installed on the windshield. Ipso Facto, you want it in your 2019 RAV4, you can get it. Instant XM: just add money!
    They declined to pay extra for functionality they didn't need, and that's somehow a "fault"? 
  • Reply 19 of 21
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,955member
    Flacbox probably the best music player to use with CarPlay. Once you set it up it stays out of the way.
  • Reply 20 of 21
    maltzmaltz Posts: 462member
    JP234 said:
    JP234 said:
    JP234 said:
    Good or bad, a Sirius XM app is redundant. Any car with Apple CarPlay also has Sirius built into the car's radio (The antenna is in the shark fin on your roof). And it works just like the AM/FM channels.

    The only reason to use any of the other apps is to use Siri and keep your eyes on the road, instead of fiddling with a dash screen in traffic. You DO use Siri, right?
    Not true. My wife’s previous company car (2019 RAV4) had CarPlay but not a XM tuner. The only way to tune in to XM was through her phone.
    That was your choice, therefore your fault. The excellent 2019 RAV4 (which is owned by my best friend) had XM standard on the Adventure and Limited Trims, and came with the audio upgrade on the XLE and XLE Premium trims. While the audio upgrade was not available on the LE trim level (or you didn't buy the audio upgrade), there is a dealer-installed option, but the antenna would have to be installed on the windshield. Ipso Facto, you want it in your 2019 RAV4, you can get it. Instant XM: just add money!
    They declined to pay extra for functionality they didn't need, and that's somehow a "fault"? 
    Well, if he's complaining about the poor quality of the CarPlay app, abso-freaking-lutely! But seeing as it was a company car, I can assign that fault to the company, not the enduser.

    First off, why do you need (and why should you pay for) a built-in XM radio if there was a decent app alternative?  That's like bashing someone for not spending $1500 for the factory version of a freaking GPS you could get for $80 at Best Buy, and then them complaining about Apple Maps.

    And anyway, your basic premise is wrong - there is a LOT of streaming content that isn't available at all via the satellite service, not to mention the ability to skip songs.  So maybe get off your high horse.
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