Whether you are using Android Auto on your phone or with your smartphone hooked up via USB, or on your car display natively, you are going to need apps to get the most out of the technology. Here are the best Android Auto apps available today.
Before you get started with Android Auto, you should check if your vehicle is compatible. We have put together a list of which car manufacturers and models support Android Auto for you.
Entertainment apps for Android Auto
For those long drives across the country, having entertainment options at the touch of a finger - or a spoken sentence - can be the difference between a dull trip and an enjoyable ride. These are the best entertainment apps for Android Auto.
There’s nothing more satisfying, to me at least, than a good read on a long car journey. Of course, you can’t really do that behind the wheel, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get engrossed in the latest best-seller. Audible is an excellent audiobook app from Amazon. The regular Audible service is great, and its integration with Android Auto has turned out rather nicely. A subscription will set you back $15 a month, but there is a free trial for new users available.
For the podcast junkies among us, PocketCasts is one of the most critically-acclaimed smartphone apps. Did you know it has been adapted for Android Auto? When paired with your vehicle, you can browse podcasts and control play/pause from your dashboard. You can also set up a playlist of podcasts for a particularly long drive, but you need to do this from your phone before you set off. PocketCasts cost $4 to download, but it is well worth the money.
What would driving be without the radio? Scout FM is a vault of radio shows and podcasts that you can listen to on demand. Sick of the drivel coming out of the local radio station? Don’t settle for it! The app will also endlessly play similar shows, kind of how LastFM works, so you won’t have to keep fiddling with the controls too often whilst driving.
iHeart Radio lets you stream radio stations from all over the world. If you love listening to the radio, with all of its unpredictability, but don't want to be stuck with the local selection, then this is the Android Auto app for you. The iHeart Radio is free to use, but a premium version allows you to choose from an unlimited number of songs, if you want to be a bit pickier.
If you love music, chances are you are already using Spotify. The streaming service that can be used for free (supported by ads) or via its subscription model is just about the most complete music app around. Fully integrated into the Android Auto experience, Spotify is the app for those long drives soundtracked by your favorite playlist. Premium subscribers can also download songs for offline play in remote areas where there is no mobile data available.
News and services apps for Android Auto
Keeping up to date with world events whilst on the road can be tricky when you are used to the fast-paced, 24-hour news cycles that populate our daily lives. Luckily, with these apps, you’ll never miss a story while driving.
NPR One is a great app for providing breaking news and reports from around the world. It’s free, although there are ads, of course. It covers a wide range of topics from politics to entertainment news. It’s also one of the customizable Android Auto apps - you can tailor news to the region which you are driving through.
New York Times
The New York Times app is a great way to receive news alerts whilst driving to work. The Android Auto support means that you’ll never turn up to the office in the dark about the latest developments. The app is free, but there are several subscription models starting from $14.99 per month. You’ll need one for the best experience.
Navigation apps for Android Auto
Navigation is probably the most practical application of smart technology in our vehicles. With these Android Auto apps, you can take the stress out of finding the best route to your destination. Never get lost again!
Waze is powered by a combination of Android’s Location Service and real-time information taken from its 100 million-strong user-base. It is one of the best apps in the world when it comes to factoring in construction works and traffic into its route suggestions. It can also provide up-to-the-minute updates on accidents and unexpected delays. It is fully compatible with Android Auto too.
We couldn't have a list of the best Android Auto apps without including the granddaddy of navigational tools, Google Maps. Maps is a crucial part of the Android Auto ecosystem and will probably be the app you end up using most, if you drive regularly. For some people the decision between Waze and Google Maps comes down to personal preference. They’re both great, though, in our opinion.
Messaging apps for Android Auto
Sometimes you get messages when you are driving that you simply can't ignore. In our Internet age of quick communication, leaving a message unanswered for hours is to some poor social etiquette and to others unacceptable behavior. Fortunately, you don't have to text and drive to send messages on the road.
The Messenger integration with Android Auto enables people to listen to and reply to messages using voice commands. If you have Messenger installed on your Android device, you’ll be able to listen to and respond to messages through the Android Auto mobile app or supported vehicle display.
Android Auto will play your messages for you, you just have to touch the speaker icon to hear the message read aloud. Drivers can give Android Auto voice commands to reply or message a friend on Messenger. There's no typing involved. You can also touch an "I’m driving right now" button to quickly send this message as a reply and let your friends know why you cannot send a proper reply immediately. If you don't want to receive messages at all while driving, you could always log out of Facebook Messenger.
Do you know of a great Android Auto app missing from our list? Let us know in the comments below and give us your reasons for why it should be included.