These are the 19 best Android Auto apps you should have in your car

Android Auto dashboard
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Android Auto is an invaluable tool for Android phone users on the road. Instead of having to use your phone while driving, Android Auto beams all the important apps onto the screen in your center console — giving you access in a way that’s easier and safer than the alternatives. Whether you want navigation, podcasts, or a way to message people from the open road, Android Auto has you covered.

Of course, not all apps are compatible with Android Auto, and some of the ones that do work are straight-up not worth it. So to save you the hassle of figuring out what is and isn’t Android Auto compatible, we’ve rounded up all the top Android Auto apps every driver should be using.

Google Apps

Every Android user knows that their phone comes with a bunch of Google apps preinstalled. You also can't get rid of some of those apps very easily, which means they're more or less stuck on your phone for the rest of its natural life. The good news here is that these apps are compatible with Android Auto, and make invaluable companions in your car. 

Google Phone: Your phone may have its own phone app, but Google’s phone app is an option — and compatible with Android Auto. All phone diallers can make and receive calls, but the benefit of Google’s is the built-in spam protection. Not only can it screen calls for you in some regions, built-in Caller ID means you know who’s calling you, and whether it’s actually worth answering. 

Messages: Again, odds are your phone has a text messaging app already. But it may not offer the same benefits as Google Messages — since it offers encrypted RCS messaging between compatible devices. This is as close to iMessage as you can get on Android, complete with better support for images, file sharing and other smart features that old-school SMS can’t handle very well.

YouTube Music: It may share a name with regular YouTube, but YouTube Music is not the same thing. It’s a music streaming app devoid of any video content, which makes it ideal for use in the car. It’s an alternative to the likes of Spotify, with official tracks and albums rather than all the bootlegs you’ll find on regular YouTube. 

Google Maps: This is one of the best navigation apps out there, and pre-installed on all Android devices. Google Maps has real-time GPS navigation, live traffic data with active rerouting, offline maps and the ability to search for stops and amenities along your current route.

Music

Spotify: This is the king of music streaming, with over 100 million songs available to stream — both with and without ads, depending on how much you pay. Spotify also offers podcasts, audiobooks, personalized recommendations and sharable playlists. So if you don’t want the pre-installed YouTube Music, it’s one to check out.

Tidal: If you’re more into high-fidelity music streaming, then Tidal is the app you want in your car. Your car speakers may not be audiophile quality, but at least your music can be, right? 80 million songs are available in higher quality than rival services, and apparently Tidal pay better royalties than other music streaming apps — which helps you support your favorite artists a little more.

YouTube Music: YouTube music has the advantage of being pre-installed on your Android phone — and the ad-free version is bundled in with YouTube Premium. There are millions of songs available, and that premium subscription means you can enjoy them offline, with the screen locked and without pesky advertising. That’ll set you back at least $11 a month, or $14 if you sign up for YouTube Premium.

VLC: If you’re more interested in playing local files, and not streaming anything alongside it, VLC might be a good place to go. It’s far from the only Android Auto-compatible music player, but the software does have a very positive reputation for a reason. It can play just about any audio file you’ll come across, and is completely free — with no advertising or hidden costs. 

Messaging

Google Messages: Never forget that Google Messages is a solid option, especially since it means your contacts don’t need to have signed up for the same messaging service as you. That’ll be especially important once iPhones adopt RCS messaging later this year. Though you will need a separate phone app to call anyone you need to speak to in real time.

WhatsApp: Arguably the biggest cross-platform messaging service on the planet, offering voice, text and video based communication — though the last one doesn’t work with Android Auto for obvious reasons. Plus everything is encrypted by default, which isn’t the case with regular calls and texts. 

Signal: While certainly more niche, Signal does almost everything WhatsApp can do — with the latter even utilizing Signal’s encryption protocols. But this one isn’t owned by Meta, or any other big tech firm, which may be very appealing to more privacy and security-conscious types out there.

Maps & Navigation

Waze: While not as data heavy as Google Maps, Waze has a big following thanks to how it generates your route. Everything is always in flux, and the app will do just about anything to get you home as fast as possible. Plus, that pastel-colored cartoonish art style is a lot easier on the eyes than Google Maps’ atlas-inspired design.

TomTomGo: If you’re looking for a navigation app not made by Google, then there’s always TomTomGo. They're the former head honcho of GPS navigation before Google stole the top spot for itself. The main benefit of TomTomGo is that it has settings for different kinds of vehicle types — including larger ones like trucks. It also offers many of the same features you’d expect, like real-time traffic alerts, speed cameras, fuel prices, weather, parking and more. The downside is a bunch of those features are locked behind a $3.49 a month paywall. 

Podcasts and Audiobooks

Audible: Amazon is one of the big names in audiobooks, offering a huge selection of tales that someone else can read for you — plus a growing catalog of free podcasts. Audiobooks have to be purchased, though Audible members get 1-2 books each month as part of their subscription. Audible Premium Plus members also gain access to a catalog of free books, and exclusive ad-free podcasts.

Spotify: Spotify offers more than just music, with a huge catalog of podcasts — some of which you may already know about. Premium subscribers also gain access to a collection of audiobooks, offering further entertainment to your driving time.

Google Play Books: It’s not a subscription-based service, but Google will sell you digital books via the Google Play Books app. Though only audiobooks are available through Android Auto, for obvious reasons. Podcasts aren’t included, though and Google Podcasts is officially dead. So this is a books-only affair.

Pocket Casts: A podcast-specific app that prides itself on offering robust listening and discovery tools. Not only are there folders to organize all your ongoing podcasts, you can also control what’s up next with the queue, customize the theme, control how the podcast plays and discover new ones in the app’s curated playlists.

Podcast Addict: Podcast Addict also offers a huge range of tools and features designed to enhance the process of listening to and discovering new podcasts. There are 4.5 million podcasts on offer, alongside 120 thousand radio stations and 20 thousand audiobooks — meaning it has all those podcast-friendly features for other kinds of audio content.

Driving

Fuelio: While Google Maps and Waze can help you find gas stations, and how much they might cost, that’s about where their functionality ends. Fueliop takes things a step further, not just helping you find affordable gas; it also acts as a log book for your driving. You can track your trips, mileage, fuel consumption and even your car’s maintenance costs. Will you need most of that while you’re driving? Probably not, but it’s still super useful to have. Especially if you’re driving for work.

PlugShare: Electric vehicles need fuel too, and PlugShare can help you track down the nearest (or cheapest) charging station. PlugShare has a map of EV chargers across the United States, offering a range of different plug types, charging speeds and many of the different charging networks. It doesn’t have every charger, but it can help you track down a power boost in a pinch — and can even plan your trips for you so that you know exactly where and when to stop.

SpotHero: Getting to a new place is one thing, but do you know where you’re going to park when you get there? SpotHero is available in key American cities, letting you hunt down and book a parking space before you've even left your driveway. It includes parking garages, lots and even valet — with Android Auto support letting you (or more likely your passenger) handle everything somewhere along the route.

Scanner Radio: While Spider-Man may use the police scanner to help fight crime, you can use it to figure out how to avoid traffic on the road ahead. Google Maps and Waze have features to reroute you around congestion but they do take some time to kick in. If you’re familiar with the roads, Scanner Radio could clue you into emergencies on the road as they’re happening — letting you figure out how to avoid any problems they may cause. It’s a little different to listening to a podcast, but it could save you some precious time. 

More from Tom's Guide

Category
Arrow
Arrow
Back to Mobile Cell Phones
Brand
Arrow
RAM
Arrow
Storage Size
Arrow
Colour
Arrow
Condition
Arrow
Price
Arrow
Any Price
Showing 10 of 244 deals
Filters
Arrow
Our Review
1
Google Pixel 8 Pro - Unlocked...
Amazon
(256GB Black)
Our Review
2
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra...
Mint Mobile
(256GB)
Our Review
4
Samsung - Galaxy S24 Ultra...
Best Buy
Our Review
5
Google Pixel 8a 128 GB
Visible
Our Review
6
Google Pixel 8 Pro - 128 GB
AT&T Mobility
(Black)
Our Review
8
AT&T Google Pixel 8a
Walmart
(128GB)
Our Review
10
Google Pixel 8a - Unlocked...
Amazon
Load more deals
Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.