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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, available on nearly all new cars, brings an iPhone-like interface to your car’s built-in infotainment system. Between 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 adds new app categories to the platform.
Some apps continue to deliver lackluster experiences — we’re looking at you SiriusXM — but others are invaluable. Here are our current top apps that support CarPlay.
It’s easy to find your way to the nearest coffee shop for your daily carb and coffee in the Panera CarPlay app. Even more impressive is the ability to order directly through your car’s screen.
You can see your recent requests or fan favourites. Simply click on an item to add it to your cart, view your cart and click checkout to submit your order.
It is very useful for your frequent visitors who can submit their daily requests, all without more than a few taps on the screen.
Apple has its own audiobook store, though we’ve always been partial to Amazon-owned Audible. It has a huge library of audiobooks and a growing collection of Amazon Original stories told by some of the best actors from Hollywood.
Audible CarPlay shows you libraries of audiobooks, podcasts, and any collections you’ve set up. You can adjust playback speed, quick chapters, and more while listening to a book or podcast.
Apple added Fuel Apps as a category type with iOS 16 and Chevron is one of, if not the first, to support it. With Chevron’s CarPlay app, you can pay for fuel without leaving your car.
Once you enter a Chevron or Texaco station, the app will automatically detect your location. You can then choose your pump number and get paid on file for the amount of fuel you use.
The app also allows you to find the nearest station if you’re biased towards their brand versus others in a more generic mapping app.
Many sports leagues have dedicated apps like the NBA and NHL, but our favorite is MLB. You can change the app’s icon to represent your favorite team, which appears on the CarPlay interface the same way it does on iPhone and iPad.
With a corresponding MLB subscription, you can get tons of audio content with the league’s first-party app. During baseball season, it’s a great companion app.
The downside is that there is no content available to non-subscribers. When running the app without a subscription, an alert appears to notify you of the subscription within the iOS app, which is not recommended to do while driving.
The browser wars have heated up on macOS and iOS, especially with rumors circulating that Apple will drop the webKit requirement in iOS 17. Available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, Brave tries to set itself apart with several rarely seen features.
For CarPlay users, you can play audio directly from the front of the car. If you save a video from YouTube or other sites to the Brave browser on iOS, you can then listen to it when you get into the car.
The app won’t play video for obvious reasons, but audio is supported. This makes it a great way to keep up with video streamers, storytellers, and other video series where the visuals aren’t as important.
If you’re looking for a more lengthy podcast app than Apple’s, 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 your last listen or you can view all podcasts you’ve subscribed to.
CarPlay has a Favorites button, controls for playback speed, and chapter selection when listening to a podcast. Chapters also support custom artwork if the podcast creator has set them up.
The best feature is support for both Smart Speed and Voice Boost. The former helps reduce listening time by reducing dead time, while the latter helps make sounds easier to understand.
Apple Maps has improved significantly since its launch, but many users still turn to third-party map apps. Waze is arguably the most popular thanks to its ability to redirect you mid-flight so you always arrive as fast as you can.
With Waze, you can also see the current speed limit, railroad tracks, construction, stop lights, and more. Plus, it supports CarPlay split-screen dashboard so you can see your media on the go.
While navigating Waze, you can also report road accidents. You can report speed traps, traffic, accidents and dangers, which can help other road users equipped with the same app.
A new CarPlay is coming soon
Starting in late 2023, Apple will begin shipping an updated version of CarPlay that has the ability to support all of the screens in your car as well as control vital car systems such as air conditioning or seat positions.
Apple previewed the new system at WWDC 2022 with iOS 16 but will start rolling it out to select vehicles running iOS 17.
Unfortunately, there will be a slow adoption rate for the next generation of CarPlay. Only a handful of luxury automakers have signed up to date, and it will likely be years before most mass-market cars support it.
It will be a long wait, but it will be worth it in the end.