Google’s innovative efforts aren’t only restricted to developing autonomous flagship devices. The tech giant revolutionizes the way people drive. Gone are the days where the car stereo is your only companion when driving home to and from work, or going on long drives. More and more drivers are now using Android Auto apps simply because they want a more simplified and straightforward way of setting up their respective vehicle’s infotainment systems.
Learn more about the most useful Android Auto apps in this guide.
What Is Android Auto?
Android Auto is responsible for transforming your vehicle’s built-in dashboard into a smartphone-like device. The experience you have with your current Android smartphone is integrated into the dashboard, replacing your dashboard’s native system. Through Android Auto, the dashboard of your vehicle will display apps and dialogs in a simple, easy-to-navigate, and familiar interface with bigger and clearer icon apps, readable menus, and comprehensive panels. With its latest updates such as the dark mode, an all-new app launcher design, and an improved UI, Android aficionados will have a more familiar experience with Android Auto.
How Do Android Auto Apps Work?
Android Auto system’s essential aspect is the integration of Google Maps for a smarter, comprehensive, and efficient system for navigation. That said, it offers comprehensive navigation and automatically recommends an alternative route. The alternative route will show if you may encounter any accidents, traffic, or maintenance in your current direction. It’s a great advantage if your vehicle doesn’t have built-in navigation.
Moreover, Android Auto automatically syncs saved data and history of your usual pinned locations from your Android smartphone or tablet. Thus, there is no need for you to manually input the address of your home, office, school, or your favorite coffee shop.
Also, Android Auto apps provide drivers with on-demand and convenient access to a diverse range of music and podcasts through music-streaming apps. They enable drivers to get in touch with friends, families, and colleagues by sending texts and calling them using Viber, Hangouts, and WhatsApp hands-free. They also allow drivers to surf the web and social media apps safely. Each Android Auto app contributes to a more personalized and interactive driving experience.
Why Should You Download Android Auto Apps?
Android Auto is every driver’s smart driving assistant that provides them with a more entertained, connected, and unified driving experience with the integration of Google Assistant. Since it runs on Google’s ecosystem, drivers will enjoy a similar experience with what they have on their Android smartphones. Through a more user-friendly UI, powerful voice controls, and sleek and larger icons, Android Auto is developed to make it more convenient and easier to access apps that you have on your Android smartphones while driving.
If you want a one-stop shop for all your Android apps while navigating on the road, then you should definitely download the Android Auto. You can stream your favorite music from popular music-streaming platforms such as Google Play Music, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Pandora. Do you want to avoid heavy traffic situations? A selection of Android Auto apps will suggest the best possible route to get to your destination on time with real-time GPS navigation. Are you always on the go? You can have Google Assistant to check your calendar and remind you of what’s the next appointment to accomplish.
Indeed, the list goes on and everything you need is in one comprehensive dashboard with Android Auto.
Can You Update Android Auto Apps?
Updating your Android Auto apps is similar to updating your apps on your Android smartphone. You can either update the Android apps that you’ve downloaded and installed on your smartphones automatically or individually. That said, the updates that you’ve applied on the Android Auto apps on your smartphones will automatically reflect on your dashboard’s Android Auto system. For example, if you’ve recently updated your Facebook app on your Android phone, its new version will not only apply on your smartphone but also on the Android Auto system on your vehicle as well.
Since Android Auto is powered primarily on your Android smartphones, there is no method for updating your Android Auto on the vehicle’s dashboard itself. Everything is directly proportional to your smartphone.
It’s a different story when your vehicle doesn’t support Android Auto with the dashboard’s native infotainment system. It means opting for over-the-air updates from your car’s manufacturer when they’re available, or perhaps driving to the vehicle’s dealership so a technician will perform the update on your behalf. Nevertheless, it’s best practice to maintain your vehicle’s software or firmware with the latest version so your apps will run smoothly on a secure platform.
Best Android Auto Apps
With the basics of what Android Auto system is in mind, we will list down the best must-have Android Auto apps for your infotainment essentials.
Before anything else, make sure that your preferred smartphone is compatible with Android 5.0 or the latest version. As such, it’s not a prerequisite to purchasing a new Android flagship smartphone for Android Auto to run on the dashboard of your vehicle.
A wired connection is required for syncing. The good news is that Android Auto can already support wireless connections from a diverse range of new Android smartphones from popular phone brands. Android Auto is consistently expanding its list for compatible car models. You can verify if your vehicle is compatible with Android Auto through Android’s official website.
1. Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger is one of the popular Android Auto apps on our list for instant messaging. It’s extremely rare for people nowadays to not have a Facebook Messenger account. That said, the messages you’ll receive on your Facebook Messenger mobile app will also reflect on your Android Auto. If you want to minimize distractions while on the road, you can allow Android Auto to read new messages out loud, or you can simply enable the pre-defined template of “I’m driving at the moment” to send instantly to one of your Messenger contacts.
Waze is one of the essential Android Auto apps that you can easily use for navigation. Through this app, drivers will have real-time updates regarding traffic conditions as well as the best possible routes available to and from their pin locations. Thanks to Waze’s proactive users, you will get the latest info if there are maintenance, checkpoints, and accidents on the road. When you’re running out of gas, Waze will provide the cheapest and nearest gas stations that you can easily drive to. It’s an excellent Android Auto app for anticipating ETA for your scheduled appointments.
Pandora is a primary component in popularizing internet radio. Nevertheless, it is already popular even before the existence of Android Auto. Now, it’s one of the best Android Auto apps for music-streaming and radio essentials. It has similar features with Spotify in terms of music-streaming except that it also offers radio services. You can sign up for a free account; however, if you require the best out of this app, you need to pay a certain fee for the Pandora Premium subscription. Pandora is your one-stop shop for music-streaming and internet radio, thus making it to our list for the best Android Auto apps to download.
Spotify is the most popular platform for streaming music anytime anywhere. It has a large repository of artists, albums, playlists, and songs for all your music essentials. Everyone who loves long drives or simply wants to take the boredom away can enjoy Spotify’s service. Even on a free Spotify account, you can still listen to your favorite playlist; however, you will encounter ads once in a while. With compatibility with Android Auto, Spotify is one of the best road trip essentials for a more memorable drive.
5. Google Maps
When you have an Android mobile device, it’s likely that you already have Google Maps on it. Similar to Waze, it’s one of the best Android Auto apps for comprehensive navigation. However, in terms of place recognition, Google Maps has a more extensive and detailed list of locations. If you can’t easily find to and from pin locations from other navigation apps, chances are Google Maps will definitely provide you with the necessary details in an instant. With its compatibility with Android Auto, it integrates a simplified user interface for a more seamless experience.
Another popular instant messaging that is compatible with Android Auto is WhatsApp. It offers a hands-free approach to opening messages from your WhatsApp inbox. If used with Android Auto, drivers can just tap a specific conversation on the dashboard and compose replies through voice commands. For added convenience, WhatsApp messages will display on the third position from the top of the dashboard if you’re accessing other apps. Through this setup, you can compose your replies or new messages without switching from one app to another.
If you’re tired of your local radio stations, you can choose from a variety of radio stations through iHeartRadio. With integrations into Android Auto, iHeartRadio provides you with a long list of radio stations to choose from. If you want to explore around, you can browse international radio stations from this Android Auto-compatible app. Payment isn’t necessary if you want to utilize iHeartRadio’s service; however, you can opt for a paid subscription if you prefer to get the most out of this Android Auto app.
8. Scanner Radio
Scanner Radio isn’t your traditional radio station. It offers a similar experience as what you’ll get from your radio stations except you’ll listen to live audio from marine radios, air traffic, radio repeaters, firemen, and police emergencies. If you’re not a fan of showbiz happenings and mainstream music, you can download Scanner Radio as one of your must-have Android Auto apps for your non-traditional driving essentials.
Podcasts and music are one of the main essentials that you can stream while on the road. However, audiobooks are also good for passing the time. Audible is one of the excellent Android Auto apps for bookworms on the road. Through its robust integration with Android Auto, the app allows you to browse the Audible store and view a diverse collection of genre-specific audiobooks, including bestsellers.
If you prefer a more secure and private instant messaging app that is compatible with Android Auto, then Telegram is an excellent app of choice for you. It’s similar to WhatsApp and Viber except Telegram is integrated with robust security features as well as an encryption of instant messages.
OverDrive makes it more convenient to access your local library with just a few taps on your smartphone. Similar to Audible, OverDrive provides you with the opportunity to access numerous audiobooks for free. OverDrive’s compatibility with Android Auto allows bookworms to check out their favorite books, and place them on hold even when on the go. That said, they will never have to worry about getting the books as scheduled. It provides you with a mobile library experience instead of visiting your go-to library, making it an excellent option for busy people.
12. Google Play Music
Google Play Music is another music-streaming app on our list that is compatible with Android Auto. Through Google Play Music, it’s easier to control and access your favorite songs even while driving, thanks to its integration with Android Auto. With just a simple “Hey, Google.” or “Play…” statement, drivers can easily stream their favorite playlist, songs, or genre. Through your vehicle’s dashboard, you can easily navigate Google Play Music to browse for song recommendations, popular artists, trending songs, and recently-played music.
If you’re a fan of variety in radio stations, you can try downloading TuneIn as one of your must-have Android Auto apps for your road trip essentials. If you want to get updated with the latest happenings in showbiz, sports, celebrities, and music, TuneIn provides you with a variety of radio stations for keeping you company while stuck in traffic.
14. Podcast Addict
If you’re a fan of listening to inspirational talks while driving home from work, you can download Podcast Addict as one of your must-have Android Auto apps. Aside from integrations with Android Auto, Podcast Addict is also compatible with SoundCloud, RSS Feeds, and YouTube. Drivers can purchase a single-priced subscription and access a diverse range of podcasts – in audio or video format.
15. Pocket Casts
If you want less intense streaming while driving, listening to podcasts generally have soothing effects. With people just talking in the background, it’s more than enough to keep you company while stuck in traffic. Chances are, you will gain fresh perspectives while listening to inspirational podcasters. Pocket Casts is one of the essential Android Auto apps that you can download for listening to podcasts while driving. Through Pocket Casts, you can search through a diverse collection of podcasts, manipulate the usual podcast controls, and set filters for browsing.
16. NPR One
NPR One is one of the comprehensive Android Auto apps for streaming different kinds of audio content on the web. If you have the FOMO, you can stream the latest local, national, and global news with just about anything. With a curated and cohesive fashion, you can browse through NPR One for your favorite podcasts, programs, and shows. You can also integrate a sleep timer that has five presets to choose from. With hands-free functionalities for skipping, pausing, and browsing content, you can enjoy undistracted driving with NPR One.
If you don’t mind listening to local artists, then MediaMonkey is more than enough to provide you with the entertainment you need. Despite numerous local music players to choose from, MediaMonkey is one of the best alternatives. MediaMonkey’s interface and the app are extremely simple, straightforward, and customizable. That said, it doesn’t provide you with unnecessary features that distract you while driving. With Android Auto integrations, MediaMonkey offers a simple yet comprehensive way to access your playlists and songs from your library.
Google has a comprehensive list of Android Auto apps found on the Google Play Store. You can search and download a diverse range of apps of each kind, including navigation-friendly apps such as Waze, messaging apps such as Messenger and Skype, music-streaming apps, and many others that serve a specific purpose.
We’ve highlighted the best must-have Android Auto apps for your infotainment needs. With these apps, you can now transform your monotonous driving routine to a more interactive and fun driving experience with just a few taps on your dashboard.
Do you have any recommendations for the best Android Auto apps that we’ve missed? Tell us in the comments below!