Google has released developer guidelines for apps that will run on the company’s upcoming in-care software. Android Auto is expected to launch before the end of the year, letting you interact with Android apps while driving thanks to a touchscreen display that’ll be built into the dashboard of some vehicles.

But Android Auto apps aren’t really standalone apps. Instead they’re smartphone or tablet apps that have an Auto component. When you install the apps on your phone, your in-vehicle system will recognize them and add functionality to your Android Auto dashboard.

That way you can receive notifications, control music playback, or use voice actions in the car.


In other words, Android Auto is a lot like Google’s wearable platform. You install Android Wear apps by installing Android apps on your phone as well.

There’s another similarity between Android Wear and Android Auto: Google is maintaining tight control over the user interface. Device makers won’t be allowed to use custom skins. In fact, Android Auto will be even more locked down.

Most apps will look pretty much the same. Developer can choose custom colors and each app will have day and night mode color schemes. But they’ll basically all have the same user interface and button layout.

At launch there will be just a few types of third-party apps that work with Android Auto: apps that can display notifications in a car-appropriate way, and media player apps. Media players will all have a simple bar of playback controls, although some apps might have custom buttons including thumbs up or down or bookmark buttons.

Android app developers have a lot more leeway in designing custom user interfaces for smartphone and tablet apps. But it makes sense for Google to insist on a more unified design language for in-car systems. This helps drivers see information at a glance and know where they need to tap on the screen even when using newly installed apps.

The last thing you want is for drivers to get distracted while staring at a confusing screen in their car when they should be looking at the road ahead.

via /r/Android and Ars Technica

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16 replies on “This is what Android Auto apps will look like”

  1. Actual knobs and buttons will always be preferable to a touch screen in an auto (unless it is self-driving). A touch screen requires you to take your eyes off the road. Knobs and buttons can be used by feel alone. Ford learned this the hard way with Microsoft sync. They took away all the physical controls for climate control and radio and now they are bringing them back on most of their vehicles.

    1. Let’s hope Google doesn’t intentionally gimp mechanical input like they did with Android on phones.

  2. Absolutely cannot wait, android auto is going to be awesome. I was looking for an aftermarket unit but I’m holding off until these hit shelves. I really want to see what Pioneer does with this platform. They make such beautifully functional screen units, it will be the next level having Android in that box.

    Anyone heard anything about expected prices??

  3. With this and Android TV I’d love to also have a proper google PC OS. I know google has chrome os but it’s quite limited when it comes to offline us. They need a PC os that really rivals Windows and OS. Being able to sync all our devices would be awesome and could potentially be very profitable for google.

    1. If you want to rival Windows it’ll have to be in the buisness sector. I think the failure of implementing Linux across large companies was the first indicator that users want to hang on to windows or apple for desktop work. However as an IT admin I do enjoy eating Linux myself.

    2. I highly doubt that Google is interested in competing with Microsoft for the desktop space. The long term future of computing is in the mobile, embedded, and wearable space, not monolithic desktop PCs. No, we’re not living in a post-PC world yet, but we’ll be there one day.

      Google is right where they want to be, and right where they need to be when that day arrives.

  4. Have been waiting for this since it was announced. Been holding off on an aftermarket stereo, please bring this out soon!

    1. Same here Technician199. Haven’t seen it yet but I patiently waiting to see what Pioneer and Alpine come up with

        1. Those Chinese versions of android don’t have proper functionality for a car. Plus I don’t want to wait 2 min after I turn the car on to be able to hear music or have to move all my music to the car because of some lame Bluetooth module. The android auto will have apps that allow you to keep your eyes on the road bit will integrate with your phone.

          1. They work perfectly for a car – special radio app, any music app that
            you want, there is no problem with bluetooth (you can use your phone to
            stream music to the radio). You have iGo, Waze, Sygic or any other
            navigation that you are used to.

            The boot time is 20s with an old
            RK3066 CPU (ARMv7, 1,6GHz dualcore). Imagine how fast it would be with a
            moder CPU like 4-core x86 (Bay Trail) or ARMv8 quad/octa-core.

  5. I’ve always wanted to have my dash to be integrated with my phone ever since I started using Android without needing to modify my car. Navigation and music playback is always better than what my car’s nav/dash system comes with. Plus it gets better over time with software updates. I would have been happy with just a simple mirroring with touch support implementation in my car.

    Too bad, who knows when I’ll buy a new car. I buy a new car at least every 10 years.

    1. You should be able to buy an aftermarket stereo with this. A lot cheaper than a new car.

      1. Ya, like I said, I don’t want it enough to do any aftermarket stuff. So I’ll be using it whenever I get a new car in 7 years or so.

  6. This is definitely one (rare) area where the lack of choice is a good thing.

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