Google to soon open Android Automotive OS to third-party media app developers

Google also intends to open Android Automotive to more than just media apps in the near future.


Google's Android Auto has been a barebones automobile infotainment operating system on a number of cars so far.

But since it's launch, people (particularly developers) have been asking Google to let media applications such as music, podcast apps be made available for the platform.

Today Google has finally announced that developers of media apps can now begin work on its Android Automotive platform.

Google to soon open Android Automotive OS to third-party media app developers

Developers will be able to test their apps with an Android Automotive OS reference unit in the Codelabs area during I/O 2019. Image: Google

For those wondering, Google’s Android Automotive OS isn't really an upgrade over Android Auto. As pointed out by XDADevelopers in a report, the two are similar in some ways, but Android Auto is essentially just a way for Google to allow users to bring apps they use on their smartphones into cars.
Android Automotive OS, on the other hand, is the software that’s pre-installed in the car’s infotainment system. It’s a new platform that app developers have been asking Google to introduce to bring their apps to.

As per a blog post by Google, developers can now start making media apps, like podcasts and music apps, optimised for the car. This means that apps will now go through a more stringent process that takes into account that the user is a driver and in a moving vehicle, so safety and distraction levels are key. App development will open next week at Google's I/O developer conference.

Media app user experience in Android Automotive OS. Image: Google

Media app user experience in Android Automotive OS. Image: Google

For example, Spotify is available as a music app on the Volvo Polestar 2, but it's been rebuilt by Google for the car. The Polestar version includes larger buttons and voice controls, for one, and looks different from the Spotify app available for smartphones, while still being distinctly relatable to the phone app.

At the debut of the Polestar 2, Google executives also said that more app development is coming for things like navigation and messaging and other communication apps. But for now cars like Polestar 2 will feature apps like Google Maps and Assistant and a whole bunch of apps to keep you entertained in the car.