The 10 Best Apple CarPlay Apps for iPhone

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While using your phone while driving is dangerous, you can integrate your phone safely into your ride to enjoy some neat benefits. The App Store has featured apps for motorists for quite some time.

But in the past few years, Apple CarPlay has greatly expanded your iPhone’s utility in the car. 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

Apple CarPlay Home

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.

1. Maps

Apple CarPlay Maps

Likely the most important app you use in the car is Maps for navigation. 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.

2. Phone

Apple CarPlay Phone

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.

3. Messages

Apple CarPlay Messages

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.

4. Music

Apple CarPlay Music

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.

5. Podcasts

Apple CarPlay Podcasts

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

Apple CarPlay 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.

7. iHeartRadio

Apple CarPlay iHeartRadio

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)

8. WhatsApp

Apple CarPlay WhatsApp

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)

9. Spotify

Apple CarPlay Spotify

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

Apple CarPlay NPR

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 Audio Apps for Apple CarPlay

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 Apps, Now in Your Car

Apple has hand-selected only a few apps for CarPlay, 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.

Now that you’re used to talking to Siri in the car, check out how she can help you improve even more.

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Quick Takes: What Wasn’t Announced at Apple Event, CarPlay Vehicles at New York Auto Show, and More

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In addition to our standalone articles covering the latest news and rumors at MacRumors, this Quick Takes column provides a bite-sized recap of other headlines about Apple and its competitors on weekdays.

Wednesday, March 28

What Wasn’t Announced at Apple’s Event

Yesterday, we shared a video recap of everything Apple announced at its education-themed event, including a new entry-level 9.7-inch iPad, a new Schoolwork app for classrooms, and other education-related software updates.

Apple’s invite made it very clear that the event would be focused on education announcements, but there were still quite a few hardware and software possibilities that had a slim chance of being—but ultimately weren’t—mentioned:

  • Lower-priced MacBook Air: KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said a more affordable MacBook Air will launch in the second quarter of 2018. Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman said the notebook probably wouldn’t be ready for Tuesday’s event, which proved to be the case.

    When to expect it: Apple has refreshed the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro in April or May before, and announced the updates via press releases, so that’s one possibility. Otherwise, the new MacBook Air will likely debut at WWDC 2018 on June 4, near the end of the second quarter.

  • AirPower: A trio of reports claimed Apple’s multi-device charging mat will be available to order by the end of March. However, despite Apple’s online store going down ahead of Tuesday’s event, the AirPower wasn’t anywhere to be found when the site came back online.

    When to expect it: There are still two weekdays remaining in March, so there’s a possibility the AirPower could be added to Apple’s online store within 48 hours. Otherwise, the reports may have been off the mark. Apple has only confirmed that the AirPower will be available at some point in 2018.

  • A second-generation iPhone SE: Apple unveiled the current iPhone SE in March 2016, and given multiple rumors about a so-called iPhone SE 2, the new version could have debuted at the Chicago event. However, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had already cast doubt on the idea.

    When to expect it: A sketchy Chinese report recently claimed that Apple will unveil a new iPhone SE at WWDC 2018 in June. While certainly a possibility, Apple hasn’t introduced a smartphone at the event since the iPhone 4 in 2010. Beyond WWDC, a new iPhone SE could conceivably be announced in September alongside a new iPhone X and iPhone X Plus.

    iPhone X in gold rendered by Michael Flux

  • Gold or (PRODUCT)RED edition iPhones: Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang and Twitter account OnLeaks said Apple may release a (PRODUCT)RED edition of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and/or iPhone X. Ben Geskin and Japanese website Mac Otakara expect a gold iPhone X.

    When to expect it: On March 21, 2017, Apple unveiled a special (PRODUCT)RED edition of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. If it plans on doing similar this year, then perhaps we’ll see a wave of press releases highlighting availability of the new colors and the AirPower very soon.

  • iOS 11.3: Apple could have used its event to mention when the software update will be publicly released, but it elected not to do so.

    When to expect it: Apple said iOS 11.3 will be available in the spring, which began last week. There has already been six beta versions, and iOS 11.3 was released for the new iPad just hours ago, so it’s very likely the update will be available in a matter of days.

Teacher Reactions to Apple’s Event

Apple’s last education-focused event prior to Tuesday was in January 2012 in New York, where it announced iBooks 2 with interactive textbooks, iBooks Author, and a new version of iTunes U for iPad.

Just over six years later, many teachers and IT directors for school systems were eager to see what Apple had in store for them. And now that the event has concluded, many of those individuals have shared their initial thoughts, which aren’t entirely positive. We’ve rounded up some articles below:

CarPlay Vehicles at New York Auto Show

CarPlay in 2019 Lexus UX

Today is press day at the New York International Auto Show, which opens to the public on Friday. Many automakers have unveiled vehicles compatible with CarPlay, including the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback and 2019 Lexus UX:

  • 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback
  • 2019 Toyota RAV4
  • 2019 Lexus UX
  • 2019 Audi A6
  • 2019 Audi RS5 Sportback
  • 2019 Acura RDX
  • 2019 Acura MDX A-Spec
  • 2019 Cadillac CT6
  • 2019 Cadillac XT4
  • 2019 Ford Fusion
  • 2019 Subaru Forester
  • 2019 Honda Insight
  • 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2019 Hyundai Tucson
  • 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric
  • 2019 Kia K900
  • 2019 Kia Optima
  • 2019 Kia Sedona
  • 2019 Nissan Altima

For more coverage of Apple’s event, visit our Front Page, Mac Blog, and iOS Blog. Also visit our forums to join in the discussion.

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Mazda gives in, to deliver Apple CarPlay support with 2018 Mazda6

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After promising future support for Apple’s CarPlay earlier this month, Mazda on Wednesday revealed two upcoming models will boast integration with the infotainment system, with the first set to launch this summer.
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Mazda Announces CarPlay Support for 2018 Mazda6

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At a press event at the New York International Auto Show this afternoon, Mazda announced plans to bring CarPlay to its vehicle lineup for the first time.

The new 2018 Mazda6 will be the first Mazda vehicle to offer support for both CarPlay and Android Auto in the United States, with Mazda planning to introduce the feature this summer.

The CarPlay announcement is at 5:59 in the video

CarPlay will be available as an upgrade option on all 2018 Mazda6 models with Touring trim level and above, and customers who have already purchased a Mazda6 when CarPlay compatibility rolls out will be able to get the feature added to their vehicles.

Mazda’s press event did not mention CarPlay support for other vehicles, including the newly announced CX-3, which has left some Mazda owners upset that Mazda did not make it clear whether or not CarPlay would be available in older Mazda vehicles, a feature Mazda has promised in the past.

A press release on the Canadian Mazda site offers up additional CarPlay information, but it is not yet clear whether it also pertains to the U.S., and we’ve asked Mazda for clarification. Mazda’s Canadian site says CarPlay will be added to the 2019 CX-9 and then made available as a retrofit for Mazda Connect systems this fall.

During the press conference, Mazda also announced the addition of Apple CarPlayTM and AndroidTM Auto support to its vehicle line-up. In Canada, these mobile device connectivity technologies will first be offered in the 2019 CX‑9 launching this summer, and then rolled out across the entire model line-up thereafter. In addition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available as a Genuine Mazda Accessory retrofit for MAZDA CONNECT systems starting this fall.

Mazda has been promising to add CarPlay support to its vehicles for quite some time and has been listed as a CarPlay partner since CarPlay’s 2014 debut. Mazda said as recently as January that it’s still committed to CarPlay despite the fact that the feature has yet to become available in Mazda cars.

In March of 2017, Mazda said that CarPlay, when introduced, would be “retroactively upgradeable onto all Mazda Connect systems with a potentially minimal hardware addition needed.” Mazda Connect was first introduced in Mazda vehicles in 2014, which means quite a few Mazda vehicles will be eligible for the upgrade should Mazda make good on its promise.

CarPlay was slow to roll out, but since 2016, auto manufacturers have been adopting it at a rapid pace. CarPlay is now available in over 300 car models from a wide range of manufacturers.

Related Roundup: CarPlay

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Mazda announces CarPlay for 2018 & 2019 cars, teases retrofit accessory for earlier models

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After being touted as a CarPlay partner for over 3 years, Mazda today officially announced its plans to bring Apple’s in-car system to its vehicles. Mazda made the announcement at the New York International Auto Show, which has brought a handful of CarPlay announcements already



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Toyota’s 2019 Corolla Hatchback supports both Alexa and CarPlay

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Toyota no longer requires that you pay the premium for an Avalon to get modern smartphone integration in its cars. It just unveiled the 2019 Corolla Hatchback, whose standard trim includes an 8-inch touchscreen infortainment system with both Amazon…
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CarPlay marquee feature of new Honda Insight & Lexus UX luxury models

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Honda and Lexus today formally revealed new CarPlay-ready vehicles for the New York International Auto Show, including the former’s 2019 Insight hybrid sedan and a completely new Lexus line, the UX compact crossover.
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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Offers CarPlay Support

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Toyota had a bit of a tumultuous relationship with Apple when it relates to the in-car system CarPlay, but eventually the company decided to offer its support for the option. Continue reading
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Toyota Continues CarPlay Rollout With 2019 Corolla Hatchback

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Toyota today announced that CarPlay will be a standard feature in the all-new 2019 Corolla Hatchback in the United States.

CarPlay and Amazon Alexa, but not Android Auto, are built into the vehicle’s Entune 3.0 system with an eight-inch touchscreen, Siri Eyes Free, AUX, a USB 2.0 port, and hands-free phone calls and music playback via Bluetooth. A tray with optional Qi-based wireless charging is built in to hold the iPhone.

Toyota is debuting the 2019 Corolla Hatchback at the New York International Auto Show next week. The vehicle will be available at dealerships across the United States in summer 2018. Pricing and exact availability has not been disclosed.

Toyota was one of the last major automakers that didn’t support CarPlay. That changed in January, when the company introduced the 2019 Avalon as its first vehicle compatible with Apple’s in-car software platform, which provides convenient access to Phone, Maps, Messages, Music, Podcasts, and select third-party apps.

Toyota has yet to reveal any other CarPlay vehicles, but if the 2019 Corolla Hatchback is compatible, then the 2019 Corolla sedan likely will be too. The 2019 Camry and 2019 Sienna will also likely feature CarPlay given the 2018 models of those vehicles are already equipped with the Entune 3.0 system.

Lexus vehicles with the Enform 2.0 system will also support CarPlay. Unfortunately, a spokesperson for Toyota told MacRumors that it doesn’t have any plans to support CarPlay in pre-2019 vehicles or other countries at this time.

Related: Toyota and Lexus to Offer CarPlay in Select 2019 Vehicles and Beyond in United States

Related Roundup: CarPlay
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Apple CarPlay, Qi wireless charging arrive in 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

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Longtime CarPlay holdout Toyota is making good on promises to deliver Apple’s automotive infotainment platform to drivers, and plans to integrate the technology in its all new 2019 Corolla Hatchback this year.
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