The top 10 apps for an Android head unit
Here is the guide to our top 10 apps for an Android headunit. You may have some of these already, or they may give you an idea of what apps are available to add to your Android headunit to increase its functionality.
Don’t see this list as the only apps you need.
Your Android headunit is personal to you, and you can and should customize it just as you like. Apps help you do this; most are free or at least have free trials, so you can try them before buying. The cost is usually small for basic apps like launchers and rises significantly for some SatNav options, except for Google Maps and Waze is free.
1. Google Maps and Waze
The top use for an Android headunit could arguably be for its SatNav capabilities. Every Android headunit has GPS, and all it needs to become a SatNav is a free mapping app.
We will always be split here at android-headunits.com on this subject, so the top spot is shared between the top two players of free SatNav.
2. Spotify has been demoted 🙁
Please look at our No.5 for an unlimited streaming music landscape replacement that works perfectly on an Android headunit.
3. Online Radio (Streaming FM)
Streaming FM and AM-style radio stations is the new way to get digital radio over the internet. The biggest advantage of this is that you do not need to be in the range of the F.M. transmitter to receive a streamed service, and the downside is you do need an internet connection.
Your radio station choice is very personal to you. With this in mind, many different apps are dedicated to streaming a single channel or a collection of channels. You can choose which you prefer, and having several radio station streaming apps on your Android headunit is possible simultaneously.
Try the Radio Player app: Radio U.K. Free, FM radio online.
If you would like to try a station that is a bit more worldly, try the TuneIn app – Paid Subscription service.
DAB+ is a popular addition and is often one of the first hardware add-ons to an Android headunit. DAB+ is digital radio received by an aerial, so no data or internet connection is required to run it. This can be a huge advantage over streaming when the internet is not accessible. Unfortunately, DAB is not a worldwide service but is well-supported in the U.K.
The problem that lets down DAB is the factory-installed APP, and the solution is DAB-Z. The DAB-Z app replaces the factory app for a much-upgraded user experience.
5. Amazon Music
The number 5 spot is the new Number 2.
Another streaming service, Amazon Music, has access to over 60 Million songs with many options for plans to help budget that can be easily updated to cover more devices as needed. The option of listening offline and unlimited skips is a plus point for us. If you have Prime, getting the Amazon music app for your Android headunit is a no-brainer. Get yourself a free trial of Amazon Music (limited-time deal)
6. The Launcher
Launchers are your home screen and could be described as the app that makes the biggest change to how you interact with your Android headunit. Many car launchers are available and cover many different types of users. We have lots of information about car launchers, so look and pick the right one for you.
Torque is the free version of Torque Pro. Use the free version to trial run the software is compatible with your Android headunit. But was is Torque Pro?
Torque is the software that communicates with an OBD2 reader. An OBD2 reader permanently connected to the car will feed real-time engine information to your Android headunit. If you want this information from your vehicle’s engine, you need a compatible OBD2 reader first, but Torque is the app for OBD2.
When youtube came up as number 8, we were reluctant to include it. We include it in our top 10 apps for an Android headunit with a health warning. Do not watch youtube videos while you are driving. Some countries are more strict on this, and we suggest you don’t have the app available on your launcher home screen. Keep the youtube app one or two swipes away from home. This prevents it from being seen at a glance on the screen and is more likely to be on the right side of the law.
While your need for a browser in an Android headunit is rare, we like the features of Firefox. One useful feature is the ‘sync’ with the desktop version and phone Firefox which allows ‘send to’ the Android head unit when you find a link that would be more useful in the car.
Sygic is a paid service, offline mapping system for Android headunits. You can instantly see a map of any part of the world. No data is required. No hotspots or 4g signal loss to worry about. However, data is still useful for an offline map to help with traffic prediction route planning. Sygic has some very advanced features, and it is worth looking into if SatNav is your thing.
Spotify (demoted) because of its current problems running in landscape (android headunit) mode. Auto updates brought an unwelcome change to Spotify, no portrait mode.
You can try fiddling with versions, a complaint to Spotify on their forums, or directly to Spotify. But we have awarded Amazon Music to No.2 spot because this works and is what we want.
Tunes. You need your tunes in the car. Sat in traffic on the commute, or a caravan has overturned and ruined someone’s holiday. The clean-up takes time, and your in-car music can help. This spot falls to a music streaming service that plays your songs. There is a free option, but if you are into your music, you probably already have an account, which can be used on your Android headunit.
With recent problems introduced by the people at Spotify, using it on an Android headunit with the version available in the Play Store has become impossible. The solution is to install an older version that supports landscape mode, and you can download that version here and follow the instructions to sideload it.