The Best In-Car Music App of 2022

The music streaming market is growing, there’s no doubt about it, especially as tech giants like Google and Apple are investing big in a market that has until now been dominated by Spotify.
Apple Music on CarPlay 8 photos
Photo: autoevolution
Spotify on CarPlaySpotify on CarPlaySpotify on CarPlayApple Music on CarPlayApple Music on CarPlayApple Music on CarPlaySpotify on CarPlay
And while healthy market competition is something that comes with so many benefits not only for us, the consumers, but also for the companies involved in the race, the most popular services for drivers these days continue to be the same as in the previous years.

Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music are most often the preferred choices when getting behind the wheel, with alternatives like Amazon Music and Tidal slowly gaining more traction these days.

However, when it comes to picking the almighty in-car music app for 2022, there’s no doubt the king of the castle is none other than Apple Music.

And here’s precisely why.

While rivals like YouTube Music and Spotify have improved significantly, not only in terms of features that can be used behind the wheel but also as far as the exclusive content available for subscribers goes, Apple Music is dominating the market with a well-rounded package that includes everything audiophiles would ever need.

First of all, it’s the support for lossless audio.

With a library of over 100 million tracks, Apple Music has been offering lossless quality and Spatial Audio since the summer of 2021, with the catalog being expanded substantially throughout 2022.

As one of the market leaders, Spotify is without a doubt the biggest name not offering lossless audio to its subscribers. Spotify HiFi has been in the works since early 2021, but the company has been struggling to keep all details secret, even though this was by far the most anticipated improvement for the majority of users out there.

Spotify streams audio using 320Kbps quality, and most likely, the company believes that using compression isn’t necessarily a problem given most subscribers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference versus lossless. However, audiophiles want nothing but the best, and when it comes to audio quality, paying for a service that forces them to make such a massive compromise isn’t by any means a good option.

Apple Music on CarPlay
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
The debut of iOS 16 earlier this year also brought a massive list of improvements to the experience with Apple Music.

For example, users are now finally able to drag and drop songs to add next in the queue (obviously on an iPhone and not on CarPlay), sort playlists by title, artist, and album, mark their favorite artists and enable an updated widget on the lock screen.

The main drawback of Apple Music is that it’s primarily aimed at Apple users, and while an Android app does exist, the experience is substantially more refined on an iPhone, for instance.

However, Apple Music is slowly and surely becoming the app to beat in the car, and companies like Google, Spotify, and Tidal would certainly have a hard time convincing users to try out their services in 2023.

The runner-up

While many people see YouTube Music as the best choice for drivers, especially when Android Auto is running on the screen, I still don’t think this is the case. As a replacement to the application that everybody loved – Google Play Music, YouTube Music still offers a very unpolished experience on Android Auto, with many features that were previously available on its successful still nowhere to be seen.

Spotify is, therefore, the runner-up in our 2022 rankings, though the company was close to losing this position as well.

Giving up on Car Thing, the oddly-named device launched by Spotify, was one of the most disappointing decisions for its subscribers. In fact, the launch of such a device didn’t make much make sense in the first place given the way it works, but on the other hand, many customers still ended up buying it, only to find out Car Thing would eventually be killed off a few months later.

Spotify on CarPlay
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Other than that, Spotify remains an impressive application in absolutely all regards. Launched in 2008, the music streaming service has a gigantic library of content. It provides access to over 80 million tracks, including 4.7 million podcasts. According to the most recent statistics, it has no more, no less than 456 million users, with 195 million of them currently paying for a subscription. Spotify is available in no less than 180 markets.

One of the things that make Spotify such a popular service is the free tier. While the subscription unlocks the full capabilities of the app and also removes ads, the free Spotify version allows users to listen to their favorite tunes both on the mobile device and in the car on the likes of CarPlay and Android Auto. Sure, the ads can become annoying, but on the other hand, if you don’t want to pay and still listen to the latest hits today, you can very well stick with this version when getting behind the wheel.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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