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Best Android car launchers for Android and iOS - 2023

Author: Vladimir Brown

In this article, we're going to look at handy car launchers and navigation apps for Android Auto head unit. You can use these apps while driving without any unnecessary/dangerous manipulations with your phone, thus allowing you to concentrate on the road.

At the same time, we're going to mention some best launchers, i.e. counterparts to Android Auto. All apps are distributed for free in their basic versions or offered for trial.

Table of Contents

Nova Launcher

Nova Launcher app icon

App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱 4.4 out of 5


Price: Free


Developer: Nova Launcher

Nova Launcher is an original Android launcher with multi-language, flexible personalization, intuitive gestures, bright effects and the ability to back up settings.

It will be the optimal car launcher if, for example, you bought a $100 head unit on Amazon and you need to install a convenient shell to run Android Auto and other apps.

Here are instructions on how to do it:

Step 1. Download Headunit Reloaded from B3IT developer.

There's a trial version on the Play Store, and there's also a paid version for $4.99 USD.

Step 2. Launch the app by tapping the Headunit Reloaded icon on the screen.

Step 3. When the "Allow Headunit Reloaded to access..." window appears, tap the Allow button. This will allow access to GPS, Microphone and Phone permissions.

Step 4. After this step a test will be run on your head unit launcher. It is necessary to check if the video playback on the tablet screen is correct.

Step 5. Next, you will be prompted to modify the system settings, you should also agree. This does not pose a security threat.

Step 6. Take a USB type C cable and connect to the smartphone. A window will appear on the tablet screen with a request to access the USB device. Agree by taping OK.

This way you will be able to use the screen as a full-fledged device.

You can use the device wirelessly on the vehicle head unit. If you have some problems with wi-fi connection, just go to the WiFi settings and through the top menu click on Start head unit server.

The standard Android Launcher has a number of limitations and is not very customizable. So, you can download Nova Launcher instead (pro or free version).

After installing the Nova Launcher app, you can customize the desktop and app menu of your Android smartphone.

The color scheme of the launcher supports fine color customization, and the grid size changes from 2x2 to 12x12. The dock bar at the bottom of the phone screen is easily scrollable, the number of panels changes, you can drag and drop popular shortcuts and widgets there.

You can change the design theme, icon size and its shape, or app names.

From the Additional Actions section such apps as Assistant, Weather are available.

You can customize the icons by looking through App Grid Layout in Nova Launcher Settings.

Also, one of the interesting handy features of Nova Launcher is adding a widget to the Head Unit screen.

Last but not least, in Nova Launcher you can create folders to group apps, switch between horizontal and vertical scrolling, and hide apps from the desktop on your phone.

Download Nova Launcher: Android

Parkopedia: Wikipedia of parking lots

Parkopedia app icon

App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱 4.6 out of 5


Price: Free


Developer: Parkopedia Ltd

The lack of a convenient parking lot makes it much more challenging to navigate around an unfamiliar city. Sometimes it takes several hours to find a suitable parking place, even if you're an experienced driver.

A small app called Parkopedia, which serves as a guide to parking in the world's largest cities can rescue you in such a case.

We're going to highlight the main features of the app (despite their apparent obviousness):

  • Searching for a parking lot by the nearest location or a specific address
  • Displaying different routes to access a chosen parking lot
  • Parking status: how many places are currently available
  • Additional information such as parking hours or the cost of a parking space
  • Integration with Android car dock

Parkopedia doesn't always display 100% accurate information, but it definitely can be used as a reference point. By the way, any user can leave a comment or point out a mistake made by another user. This way, the app gets better.

Download Parkopedia: iOS

AGAMA Car Launcher: a worthy alternative to Android Auto

AGAMA Car Launcher app icon

App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱 4.5 out of 5


Price: Free


Developer: altergames

A mobile app for obtaining comprehensive information on your car dock via smartphone or tablet, similar to Android Auto.

Install this launcher by way of alternative, mount it on your dashboard and stay aware of what is happening. AGAMA Car Launcher adapts flexibly to your car design and requirements.

The main features of the launcher:

  • Setting up hotkeys to quickly launch apps
  • Music player control keys (all popular apps are supported: AIMP, Spotify, Poweramp, etc.)
  • Displaying a GPS speedometer with the ability to customize its design and speed limit
  • Managing your smartphone/tablet on head unit via Google assistant
  • Managing Google Maps, Android Auto and Waze navigation apps
  • Auxiliary information which duplicates the Android status bar and widgets

In general, AGAMA Car Launcher is a convenient shell combining all the features a driver can find significant. The app will make sure you aren't distracted from the road, and at the same time, it'll provide you with quick access to your gadget.

Download car launcher for: Android | The developer's website

Android Auto Receiver - best launcher for car head unit

Android Auto app icon

App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱 4.5 out of 5


Price: Free


Developer: Google LLC

Android Auto Receiver is an app for flexible control of devices and apps via Android Auto head unit. If you have been looking for such an app for your phone, this is it. At the moment it has no alternatives. The latest version of Android Auto Receiver has improved stability and added new features. So, with Android Auto Receiver you can control

  • in-car cameras
  • privacy settings
  • lighting settings
  • car sound system and music players on Android

How to use the launcher on head unit:

  1. Download Android Auto Receiver through the Play Store
  2. Install the app
  3. Connect your mobile device via USB cable to the head units
  4. Agree with the security settings and grant the required permissions to the Android app.
  5. Wait until Android Automotive head unit recognizes your phone and synchronizes with it

This launcher will be useful for all head unit owners with Android Automotive 13 subsystem and below.

Download Android Auto Receiver: Android

Car Launcher FREE

Car Launcher FREE app icon

App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱 4.6 out of 5


Price: Free


Developer: apps lab studio

Another car launcher for Android Auto which can be installed on smartphones, as well as tablets and digital radios running on Android 4.0 and higher. Most often, the launcher is used to quickly run and manage apps or access the installed navigation app (for example, Google Maps / Waze) and other widgets.

The launcher features:

  • Managing a list for running frequently used apps
  • Quick access to files and folders on your smartphone
  • GPS speedometer and traveled distance calculation
  • Configuring the smartphone screen: displaying summary information on the home screen
  • Using a smart assistant: Google / Siri
  • Setting up themes and icons
  • Adding screens and widgets to your car dashboard

Download Car Launcher: Android

GPS-speedometer (Smart Mobile Tools)

Smart Mobile Tools app icon

App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱 4.5 out of 5


Price: Free / €9.99 (pro)


Developer: Smart Mobile Tools

This GPS-speedometer can be a great addition to your car dashboard or/and Android Auto head unit. It would be a temporary replacement, in case your digital speedometer won't work on the car dock. Which happens, although rarely.

The Smart Mobile Tools speedometer uses GPS-satellites to measure your vehicle speed and travelled distance. Just open the app, enable it – and all metrics will be recorded automatically. If necessary, you can change the units of measurement, i.e. miles / kilometres.

This speedometer doesn't have a large number of features, but there is a very convenient option – speed limit. If you exceed the set speed limit, a signal will be triggered to notify you, so you reduce the speed promptly.

The app is free of charge, with an average user rating of 4.6 (which is a high score for the Play Market).

Download GPS-speedometer

HERE WeGo: an offline navigation app for cars

HERE WeGo app icon

App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱 3.6 out of 5


Price: Free


Developer: HERE Apps LLC

If you're looking for the most robust offline car launcher, the one we highly recommend is HERE WeGo. It's suitable for pedestrians, hikers, bicyclists and drivers.

Offline mode is the main advantage of this navigation app and directory. HERE WeGo won't warn you of speed cameras (or anything else depending on your mobile Internet connection), but you'll find a lot of useful information here. Nearest parking lots and their availability, opening hours of shops and museums, ticket prices. It supports more than 1000 major cities in the world – Berlin, Moscow, Kyiv, London, etc.

In online mode, HERE WeGo car launcher allows you to build alternative routes, monitor the traffic conditions – in general, it offers even more features that are necessary for any driver.

If you are on the road and are unsure about the quality of the Internet connection anywhere you go, simply install HERE WeGo.

Download HERE WeGo: Android | iOS

Google Maps: navigation around cities and countries

Google Maps app icon

App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱 4.1 out of 5


Price: Free


Developer: Google LLC

Official Google car launcher for Android head unit and iOS users. With it, you can turn your mobile device into a full-fledged and free GPS-navigator by 2022.

Its distinctive features:

  • integration with the Google Maps service,
  • accurately and quickly maps routes,
  • allows finding the road conditions in real-time,
  • it can work offline (only GPS-satellite connection is required).

The latest versions of the Google Maps app include a car dock speedometer. This navigation app also informs you about radars (speed cameras), shows toll roads and advises you how to avoid them.

Download Google Maps: Android | iOS

Waze: a free navigation app with detailed maps

Waze app icon

App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱 4.1 out of 5


Price: Free


Developer: Waze

This GPS-navigation app is the closest counterpart to Google Maps. The development is carried out by a community of enthusiasts (using a crowd-sourcing model). What advantages does Waze have over its competitors?

  • Waze often has the highest degree of map details, especially for non-popular places and small cities
  • Drivers will be able to accurately predict traffic congestion (minute by minute, almost in real-time)
  • The building of an alternative route, avoiding toll roads
  • Setting up voice support: for example, you can "invite" Morgan Freeman to be your voice assistant or record your own voice
  • Close integration with the Android Auto notification system

However, the car launcher also has its disadvantages (compared to HERE WeGo and Google Maps). In particular, its offline mode is far from perfect and not intuitive.

Download Waze: Android | iOS

CarWebGuru Car Launcher

App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱 3.9 out of 5


Price: Free


Developer: SoftArtStudio

CarWebGuru is a free car launcher for Android head unit, one of the top 10 best apps in its category in 2022. The launcher includes a variety of tools that will be useful to the driver and will significantly improve the driving experience:

  • android radio launcher,
  • audio player with the ability to control other music players and control volume and track playback
  • GPS logger,
  • clock and other widgets.

Design themes are also available for both the Launcher shell and built-in apps.

How to use the car launcher app:

Step 1. The user of CarWebGuru Car Launcher will first be asked for permission to use iOS files and access the navigation.

Step 2. In order to use CarWebGuru Car Launcher it is necessary to register. Registration is not difficult, you just need to enter your email and come up with a password, and then confirm it.

Step 3. After registering, the app will ask you to choose what kind of transport you drive: a car, a camper or a truck.

Step 4. Be careful when selecting, after that it cannot be changed. The next step is downloading maps, they can also be selected once. So it is not recommended to make a mistake with the choice of the mainland. If you do make a mistake, it will only be possible to change this through the purchase of a premium version.

Step 5. Next, you will need to download the map. Note that their size is large compared to the app itself. Online maps here can not be used.

Download link: Android

Android Auto

App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱 4.1 out of 5


Price: Free


Developer: Google LLC

Android Auto has a simple interface without unnecessary elements since the main features of the app are maps and navigator. The app also has a voice assistant alerting to possible dangers on roads and upcoming turns.

The key features of Android Auto:

  • Control the music player via the built-in shell. You can select any audio player installed on your Android.
  • Operation via USB connection or via bluetooth.
  • Display of navigation maps (Google Maps, Waze, or other apps to choose from).
  • Notification of traffic events.
  • Its main focus is on working in offline mode so internet connection is required only for downloading the maps of a selected area;
  • Offline country guides is available (though this feature is absent from the basic version of the app);

The map displays all the necessary information on infrastructure such as the nearest hotels, cafes and shops. In its online version the data on travel conditions (accidents, road traffic jams, etc.) is also updated.

Download Android Auto

What is the best Android car launcher - 2023?

Parkopedia is the best app for your car head unit if you often park your car and need to search for the nearest parking lots in your neighborhood. In addition to searching for parking lots, Parkopedia will also provide the best route to the specified point.

Nova Launcher is a flexible and functional GUI app for Android phones. Google Assistant can be used in conjunction with this app and will inform you about the events on the road.

Car Launcher FREE has a simple and intuitive design. The app will appeal to novice drivers or those who are not very confident in using mobile devices. This launcher also integrates well with Google / Siri assistants.

HERE WeGo - combines the capabilities of a GPS navigator and car launcher for Android head unit. There is a large selection of apps for entertainment and comfortable driving. HERE WeGo can be used to get background information and download offline maps to your phone.

Waze is also a kind of car launcher that works well in conjunction with Android Auto. It combines a nice catchy design with the functionality of a navigator. Maps are well detailed, you can use it together with the voice assistant for driving.

I'm Vladimir, your guide in the expansive world of technology journalism, with a special focus on GPS technologies and mapping. My journey in this field extends over twenty fruitful years, fueled by a profound passion for technology and an insatiable curiosity to explore its frontiers.