The Best Apple CarPlay Apps for Your iPhone

Russell Kidson
Mar 16, 2023

Provided that you own a car or stereo unit that is compatible, Apple CarPlay presents a convenient solution for navigation, messaging, and music playback while driving. In order to fully leverage this feature, it is advisable to have apps that support CarPlay installed on your iPhone.

Outlined below are some of the most noteworthy Apple CarPlay apps that are highly recommended for use.

The Best Apple CarPlay Apps for Your iPhone

A quick note about Apple CarPlay

Regrettably, only a limited assortment of iOS apps are compatible with CarPlay, with the majority fitting into one of three categories: audio, navigation, or messaging. This means that there is often considerable overlap, so you may not need to install too many of these apps. For instance, there's no need to install Spotify if you already use Apple Music. With iOS 16, CarPlay will soon add support for fueling and driving apps, such as those that assist in finding cheaper gasoline prices or verifying toll rates. However, as of the present, these features are not yet supported.

We will begin by discussing the most valuable built-in CarPlay apps to ensure that you understand how to utilize them, followed by some of the finest third-party apps available for CarPlay. If you use a different audio or navigation service than what we highlight, it's likely that it is also available for CarPlay. Adding apps to CarPlay is straightforward: simply install the app on your iPhone as you typically would and go through any initial setup steps. If the app is compatible with CarPlay, it will display in the list of apps on your car's screen after you connect your device to your vehicle.

Best built-in apps

Let us begin by reviewing the most valuable apps that come pre-installed on your iPhone and are compatible with CarPlay.

Apple Maps

If you don't have a preferred navigation app, Apple Maps functions admirably with CarPlay. Upon launching it, you'll be presented with an overview of your location. Tap on Destinations, and Maps will recommend places based on your current location or recent messages and emails. The Search function enables you to quickly locate gas stations, restaurants, and other places.

You can use the microphone button on your steering wheel or tap the Microphone icon on the screen to navigate with Siri.


CarPlay integration of the Phone app enables you to make and receive calls while driving. Upon opening the app, you can browse through your contacts, launch a dial pad, review recent calls, or check voicemail. However, scrolling through a list of contacts or using a dial pad while driving is risky. Thus, it is safer to use Siri integration by saying "Call Jane Doe" or a similar command.


The Messages app provides a secure way to chat while driving. Tapping a conversation will prompt the most recent messages to be read aloud. Moreover, you can dictate a new message using voice commands. To use the app without opening it, say "Text Jane I'll be home in 15 minutes" or "Read my latest text messages."

Apple Music

Playing the right music can make your drive more pleasurable. You can use the Music app with CarPlay to access the entire Apple Music catalog if you're a subscriber, or to listen to anything you've purchased from iTunes. Upon opening the app, you can browse through your library and playlists. Additionally, it's easy to request Siri to play your favorite artists, albums, genres, and more.


If podcasts are more your style than music during your commute, the Podcasts app lets you access shows you've subscribed to on your iPhone. With Siri, it's easy to play your favorite podcasts or skip ahead to the next episode with commands like "Play X Podcast" or "Skip ahead two minutes."

Best third-party apps

Although the built-in apps are limited, there are some third-party apps available that work with CarPlay. These apps can be accessed through the CarPlay home screen and can be controlled using Siri for hands-free use. Additionally, car manufacturer apps that allow control of the vehicle's features can also be used within CarPlay. When using CarPlay, you'll notice an app with your car's make; selecting this will allow you to return to the car's infotainment system.


Beginning in iOS 12, third-party navigation apps became available for use with CarPlay, including Google Maps and Waze. Waze stands out for its unique feature of community-sourced information, which includes alerts about nearby speed traps, construction zones, and obstacles on the road. If you're not satisfied with Apple Maps, consider giving Waze a try.

TuneIn Radio

For those who prefer listening to the radio while driving, TuneIn Radio is a great option available on CarPlay. With over 100,000 radio stations from around the world, you can easily browse and listen to your favorite stations. You can even save your preferred stations on your phone before driving for quick access.


For those who love listening to audiobooks while driving, the Amazon Audible service is an excellent option. With a subscription, you can download and keep one book each month, with a wide selection of genres to choose from. If you prefer, you can also buy books individually, although it may be less cost-effective. Once you have downloaded your audiobooks, you can easily play them through the Audible app on CarPlay. Just make sure to save them offline while on a Wi-Fi connection to avoid using data on the road.


WhatsApp is among the limited number of third-party messaging applications available in CarPlay. After opening it, you can choose to have unread messages read aloud or dictate a new message. Moreover, all the voice commands you might expect are present, allowing you to have Siri read your incoming messages and respond using your voice. With the application installed, you will also see WhatsApp notifications on the CarPlay home screen, unless you are in Focus mode.


Spotify is a popular music streaming service that offers CarPlay integration for its users. With the app installed on your iPhone, you can easily access your playlists and saved music through the CarPlay interface. Simply ask Siri to start playing a specific album or genre, or use the app to browse and choose what you want to listen to. Spotify also offers a wide range of podcasts, making it a one-stop-shop for audio entertainment. However, to enjoy an ad-free experience, save music offline, and disable shuffle mode, you'll need a Spotify Premium subscription.

Elevate your drives with Apple CarPlay

While the list of CarPlay-compatible apps is limited, there are still a number of useful options available for music streaming, messaging, and navigation. Whether you prefer Apple's built-in apps or third-party alternatives, CarPlay makes it easy to safely use your iPhone while driving. As CarPlay continues to grow in popularity, it's likely that we'll see even more apps added to the platform in the future.


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