Android Auto looks set to get a whole new batch of apps, with Google opening the door a little more when it comes to software designed to run on your dashboard. The company is now allowing navigation, parking and charging apps to be published on the Google Play Store, giving the smartphone’s projection system a much-needed injection of new functionality.
Android Auto – not to be confused with the Android Automotive OS of the same name – runs on an Android smartphone, but designs an interface that assumes display in compatible vehicle infotainment systems. That way, you get access to Android apps, Google Maps and Google Assistant and your media, regardless of the car’s native UI.
However, it is not free software for everyone. Considering that Google takes a relatively straightforward approach to what’s launched on the Google Play Store for Android phones, the risks of driver distraction and apps that can crash the panel UI mean that there are significantly stricter limits on software running on Android Auto mode.
In January, Google started testing submissions for new categories of apps. All transportation is still related, but covering third-party navigation, parking and charging software for electric vehicles. In March, Google launched the Android for Cars application library as part of Jetpack, offering developers an open source version of the library. According to Google today, “most developers have already migrated their implementations” to Jetpack.
Now, the applications they are building are being released to the public. There are a variety of titles to choose from, including familiar names like Chargepoint and PlugShare for those who drive EVs and PHEVs, T map and A Better Route Planner for those who want an alternative navigation app and more. Unlike before, drivers will not have to sign up for a beta program to download and install these apps.
While barriers to Android Auto are a little easier to navigate now, that doesn’t mean that Google has removed all of its controls. Applications for the platform still need to follow the developer’s guide and be thoroughly tested to ensure they meet Google’s application quality guidelines. The titles should also look very consistent, with the library also making it easy to design the interface so as not to confuse the drivers as they switch between applications.
For those using Android Auto – and Google says that there are already more than 500 vehicle models compatible with the projection system – you should find the new apps available for download starting today.