The 10 Best Apple CarPlay Apps

Keep the focus on driving

PRODUCT DISCLOSURE $

Apple CarPlay takes the iPhone's most widely used features and places them on your car's built-in dashboard screen, making it easier to use the smartphone while maintaining your focus on driving. Available by default in some automobiles and installable as an aftermarket unit in others, CarPlay can be controlled by your voice or its touch-screen display as well as by the buttons, dials, and knobs in your car or truck.

CarPlay's capabilities are expanded upon by its apps. While Maps, Messages, Music, Phone, and other useful iOS features including Siri can be used, many popular Apple and third-party apps are also supported. Here are some of the favorite apps, each available from the App Store. Some apps are free, while others charge a fee for the app or require a subscription to the service.

01
of 10

Audible

Audible

What We Like

  • Accesses the world's largest selection of audiobooks and audio shows.

  • Customizable narration speed.

  • First book is free.

What We Don't Like

  • Can't buy books in the app. Must go through Amazon.

  • No way to share a paid-for Audible book with family members.

One of the biggest benefits of traveling by public transportation is the downtime that it provides to catch up on some reading. Leafing through the pages of a book while driving a car, on the other hand, will probably land you in a ditch or a jail cell. The Audible app allows you to keep your eyes on the road and still enjoy a book or periodical, read by professional narrators and your favorite celebrities. You can choose from a wide selection of podcasts, making even the longest of drives a tolerable experience. Audible is owned by Amazon.

Audible offers a 30-day free trial and monthly subscriptions to access its audiobooks library.

02
of 10

MLB.com At Bat

MLB At Bat

What We Like

  • Real-time MLB game scores.

  • Live out-of-market games

  • Free MLB Game of the Day.

What We Don't Like

  • Most features require a subscription.

  • Difficult to search.

From April through October, MLB.com At Bat lets you listen to any Major League Baseball game live through your car's speaker system. The app allows you to choose between the home or road team's broadcast, as well as the Spanish-language transmission in most cases.

You'll need a subscription to access each matchup's audio feed, priced at $2.99 per month or $19.99 annually at the time of publication. It's a worthwhile fee if you're a fan of our national pastime, as you'll never miss a pitch from Opening Day to the time the last out is made in the World Series.

03
of 10

Spotify Music

Spotify

What We Like

  • 30 million song library.

  • Curated playlists.

  • Prompt access to newly released songs.

What We Don't Like

  • Free accounts contain lots of ads.

  • No live programming.

  • Service is slow to learn user preferences.

Spotify's music library contains millions of titles spanning all eras and genres, offering the option to either seek out specific artists and songs or just let the app surprise you as you cruise down the highway. The free version of Spotify's music service is ad-supported and only allows you to skip a certain number of songs in a given time period. Spotify Premium, meanwhile, removes all advertisements and grants unlimited skips and, in some cases, a higher quality of audio for a monthly fee.

04
of 10

Pandora Music

Pandora

What We Like

  • Highly accurate algorithm predicts music likes.

  • Create stations based on favorite artist, songs, or genres.

  • Train Pandora with thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

What We Don't Like

  • Low bitrate of 128 Kbps for free plan and 192 Kbps for paid plan.

  • Frequent ads in free plan.

  • Strict skipping policy.

If Spotify doesn't quench your musical thirst, Pandora also provides a mammoth song database and is driven by personalized radio stations that you create based on an artist, song, or genre. It is also powered by ad revenue, with an optional monthly fee required to remove all commercials and unlock the ability to skip and replay tunes as often as you like. A 30-day trial lets you take the Pandora Plus subscription for a test drive before deciding whether or not to buy.

05
of 10

Overcast

Overcast

What We Like

  • Download or stream podcasts.

  • Optional push notifications for new episodes.

  • Custom, rearrangeable playlists.

What We Don't Like

  • Lacks documentation on how to use features.

  • Free app is ad supported.

The cream of the crop when it comes to iOS podcast players, Overcast makes downloading, subscribing, and listening to your favorites a breeze. With full CarPlay support and a robust feature set, this app is a must-have for anyone interested in digesting podcasts on-the-go. Overcast Premium can be purchased at a yearly fee, which removes all advertisements.

06
of 10

NPR One

NPR One

What We Like

  • Simple, attractive interface.

  • Push notifications for new episodes of favorite shows.

  • Includes local news programs.

What We Don't Like

  • Ad supported.

  • Default sound is quiet.

National Public Radio features the latest news from the U.S. and around the globe, as well as stories and shows dedicated to a wide array of topics ranging from Car Talk to Week In Politics. The NPR One app helps you create a customized flow of news and stories that cater to your specific interests, including noteworthy events from your local area. The app and everything within it is ad-driven and free.

07
of 10

Radio Disney

Radio Disney

What We Like

  • Customized playlists.

  • Live streams with Disney stars.

  • Seasonal pop-up radio stations.

What We Don't Like

  • No program schedule.

  • Not designed for adult listeners.

Lengthy car trips can be tough, even more so with fidgety children growing bored in the back seat. The Radio Disney app features music, interviews, and other content from a compendium of kid-friendly artists, most of the time accompanied by videos that can be viewed on the iPhone or tablet that you've connected to CarPlay.

08
of 10

iHeartRadio

iHeart Radio

What We Like

  • Live radio 24/7.

  • Custom radio stations based on a favorite artist or band.

  • Extensive podcast library.

What We Don't Like

  • Paid subscription required for unlimited song skips and on-demand play.

  • No live programming.

No longer are you limited to those AM and FM radio stations within your signal range with the iHeartRadio app, which streams call letters from around the world. Want to listen to sports radio on the other side of the country? Sure. Missing that classic rock station that provided the soundtrack for your last vacation? iHeartRadio will play it for you.

You can also create your own personalized stations or listen to podcasts through the app, all available at no charge. Paid subscriptions allow more flexibility, lifting the song skip limit and letting you save and replay songs heard on the radio.

09
of 10

TuneIn

TuneIn

What We Like

  • Thousands of radio stations.

  • Live NBA, MLB, music, and news.

  • Local radio channels.

  • Includes AM/FM, internet radio and podcasts.

What We Don't Like

  • Free plan is ad-supported.

  • Auto-subscription enrollment after free trial unless cancelled.

  • No station curation options.

TuneIn also streams music stations based in areas other than your own from over 100,000 different stations. A favorite of sports fans, the app lets you listen to live NFL, NBA, NHL, and NCAA football games, among others. Its integration with Westwood One broadcasts ensures that you'll never miss a moment of key events such as college basketball's March Madness tournament while you're in transit.

10
of 10

VOX

VOX

What We Like

  • Very high-quality playback.

  • Combines music from different sources into one Vox Cloud.

  • No restrictions on audio formats.

What We Don't Like

  • Takes time to locate and upload files to the cloud.

  • Some features included only with subscription.

The VOX app takes a different approach than the others in this list, enhancing the quality of songs rather than providing access to them. Supporting multiple audio formats and integrated fully with SoundCloud, VOX's custom equalizer and ability to account for gaps and sound loss ensure that you get the most out of your listening experience. Whether you're a discerning audiophile or just an average music fan, this app could make a worthwhile companion to your drive.