The best apps for Apple CarPlay
AppleInsider may receive affiliate commissions for purchases made through links on our site.
Ahead of Apple’s complete CarPlay overhaul this year, we’d like to highlight some of our favorite apps for Apple’s in-car system.
Available in almost all new vehicles, CarPlay provides an iPhone-like interface on the car’s built-in infotainment system. Due to its familiarity and ease of use, it has 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 expands the platform with new app categories.
Some apps still offer lackluster experiences — we’re looking at you, SiriusXM — but others are invaluable. Here are our current top apps that support CarPlay.
Panera CarPlay makes it easy to find your way to the nearest coffee shop for your daily carb and coffee. The most impressive thing is the possibility to order directly through the screen of the car.
You can view your recent orders or fan favorites. Just tap an item to add it to your cart, view your cart, and tap checkout to submit your order.
It is extremely useful for frequent visitors who can submit their daily orders with just a few taps on the screen.
It can be heard
Apple has its audiobook business, although we’ve always belonged to Amazon-owned Audible. It has a huge audio library and a growing selection of original Amazon stories told by some of Hollywood’s best actors.
The Audible CarPlay app displays your audiobook and podcast libraries, as well as the collections you’ve set up. While listening to a book or podcast, you can adjust the playback speed, skip chapters, and more.
Apple added fuel apps as a category type for iOS 16, and Chevron is one, if not the first, to support it. With CarPlay Chevron, you can pay for gas without leaving your vehicle.
When you pull into a Chevron or Texaco station, the app automatically detects your location. You can then select the pump number and charge the registered amount for the amount of fuel you dispense.
The app also lets you find the nearest station if you’re part of a more general map app of their brand versus others.
Many sports leagues have dedicated apps, such as the NBA and NHL, but our favorite was MLB. You can change the app icon to represent your favorite team, which appears on CarPlay just like it does on iPhone and iPad.
With the right MLB subscription, you can get tons of audio content through the league’s first-party app. During baseball season, this is a great companion app.
The downside is that no content is available for non-subscribers. When you launch the app without a subscription, a warning will appear informing you that you can subscribe within the iOS app, which is not advisable to do while behind the wheel.
The browser war between macOS and iOS has heated up, especially with rumors that Apple will drop the webKit requirement in iOS 17. Available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, Brave strives to stand out with a number of rarely seen features.
CarPlay users can play audio directly from the car interface. If you’ve saved a video from YouTube or other places in iOS’s Brave browser, you can listen to it by jumping into the car.
The app doesn’t play video for obvious reasons, but audio is supported. This is a great way to keep up with video podcasts, storytellers, and other video series where visuals aren’t important.
If you’re looking for a more verbose podcast app than Apple’s own, Overcast is an excellent choice. Its iOS app is full of useful features and the CarPlay interface is pretty good too.
You can filter the app by recent podcasts to quickly jump to the last one you listened to, or view all your subscribed podcasts.
The CarPlay app has a favorite button, playback speed controls and chapter selection when listening to a podcast. Chapters also support custom graphics if set by the podcast creator.
But the best feature is the support for Smart Speed and Voice Boost. The former helps to reduce listening time by eliminating dead time, and the latter helps to understand sounds more easily.
Apple Maps has improved significantly since its launch, but many users still turn to third-party mapping apps. Waze is arguably the most popular for its ability to reroute you mid-trip so you always arrive as quickly as possible.
With Waze, you can see the current speed limit, railroad tracks, construction, stop lights, and more. It also supports CarPlay’s split-screen dashboard, so you can see your media while navigating.
You can also report roads while navigating in Waze. You can flag speedometers, traffic, collisions and hazards that can potentially help other road users with the same app.
New CarPlay coming soon
From the end of 2023, Apple will start shipping an updated version of CarPlay that can support all the screens in your vehicle, as well as control vital car systems like air conditioning or seat position.
Apple introduced the new system at WWDC 2022 with iOS 16, but will begin rolling out to select vehicles with iOS 17.
Unfortunately, the adoption rate for the next generation of CarPlay will be slow. So far, only a few luxury car manufacturers have signed on, and it will likely be years before most mass-market vehicles support it.
It’s a long wait, but it’s worth it in the end.