Developing Apps for Android Auto: All You Need to Know

The article was updated on March 23, 2023.

It is easy to see why automobile software is a big success today. People rely on their smartphones and applications on an hourly basis. Of course, our dependence doesn’t disappear while driving. Yet, using smartphones on the road is the opposite of safe driving. Fortunately, Google has taken care of its users’ needs by creating Android Auto and Android Automotive. These two versions create a safe and enhanced driving experience.

Now drivers can enjoy the most popular and necessary hands-free Android features at any moment. The advanced technology allows drivers to make calls, and receive directions, road guidance, and weather updates, while also enjoying various multimedia forms – all via the vehicle’s infotainment system.

Let’s have a closer look at Android Auto and what difference it makes in app development. Here is everything you need to know about the functions, categories, and design instructions of an Android car app. 

What is Android Auto?

Android Auto is a type of software that connects Android devices to the car’s infotainment system. Hence, this application allows drivers to interact with their phones on the car’s screen and via voice control.

The system mirrors your phone screen and projects it onto the car’s infotainment system, simplifying your interactions with applications and phone systems. A driver can have access to all essential and preferred functions of their smartphones without interacting with the gadget directly.

Such functions include access to media, communication, GPS, maps, and others. In addition, drivers can enjoy the Google Assistant feature, since they communicate via smartphones. Hence, they can ask questions, set directions, and send requests via voice commands as usual.

How does Android Auto work?

Any driver with an Android smartphone can use Android Auto in their car. However, there are several things to consider. First of all, a driver should check whether their car supports Android Auto since not all car models or stereos will. Most modern cars after 2018-2019, however, will be compatible with Android Auto.

Phone or tablet compatibility is also another issue. Drivers should have gadgets with Android 6 or later versions for it to work. Users with Android 10 and higher will already have Android Auto installed.

Lastly, there are two ways to connect your gadget to the car. The most modern models of cars and gadgets will have higher compatibility and connect wirelessly via Bluetooth. The second option is to connect a smartphone via a USB cable, which will immediately run Android Auto on a vehicle display.

However, there is another way to use Android Auto even if your car’s head unit is not compatible with the software. In this instance, the app will simply transform the screen of your gadget (tablet or smartphone) into a more car-appropriate UI design.

Hence, you will have larger icons and fast access to voice command control. In addition, your screen will be divided into three main sections – media, navigation, and communication.


What is the difference between Android Auto and Android Automotive OS?

Drivers should also know about the Android Automotive OS software as an alternative to the Android Auto system. So what is Android Automotive? In brief, it is the software that comes inbuilt with the car model. The given head unit will operate specifically on the Android platform.

Yet, unlike Android Auto, this system comes already integrated into the car by the automakers. Hence, a person has to purchase an Android Automotive OS car to use the given system. In this case, they don’t need any additional gadgets to access the car’s infotainment.

Drivers should decide for themselves which option is more appealing to them. First, Android Automotive OS is a perfect option for long-time Android users, since they are already familiar with how it operates.

In addition, such a system will be more accurate and effective than an Android Auto app since it is built for car users specifically. Hence, it is tailored to drivers’ needs and expectations. It comes with such features as door locks, air conditioning system control, and parking assistance along with other vehicle settings.

On the other hand, finding a car with an Android Automotive infotainment system is more complicated than simply finding cars with Android Auto app compatibility. The former is common among car models released only after 2021. Only several car manufacturers, including Ford, Renault, Volvo, and Rivian, support the system at the moment.

Android Auto, on the other hand, is possible to use in over 500 car models. Plus, car owners can always replace the head unit to achieve compatibility with the software.

Type of apps that can be developed for Android Auto

Drivers expect very specific functions from their apps for Android Auto. For the most part, all such applications are divided into five main categories.

Let’s have a quick breakdown of the most popular app types for Android Auto.


1. Messaging apps

A messaging app for drivers sounds confusing at first. However, with powerful voice control features, messaging on the road becomes a widely available option. Drivers can communicate without getting distracted or taking their eyes off the road. Most messaging apps in Android Auto function similarly by converting all text messages into audio files and vice versa.

2. Entertainment apps

All drivers appreciate some road entertainment. For the most part, people tend to listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts. In other cases, drivers choose to listen to famous media platforms like YouTube. With such apps, users can browse, choose, and play the media of their choice.

The main requirement is the minimum necessary input from users and limitless streaming ability. Moreover, often users can customize the Android Auto software to play music as soon as they ignite the engine.

3. Navigation & Point of Interest (POI) apps

Drivers rely on applications for guidance. Thus, Point of Interest (POI) apps and maps are the dominant types of car apps. Such software should lead the way from point A to point B or to any areas of interest such as charging or gas stations, parking spots, diners, etc.

This app type can send voice notifications when giving directions or reminders. Most types of these applications work based on Android for Cars App Library templates.

4. Internet of Things (IoT) apps

IoT applications have become the new norm in the automobile industry. Such software helps connect the car with other gadgets. For example, drivers can control the garage doors or monitor a car’s security and maintenance remotely.

5. Custom apps

Lastly, Android Auto encourages the creation of custom apps. However, they must follow the common rules for collaboration, such as having a car-friendly UI design with a clean structure, a focus on core functions, and intuitive, simple navigation.

Looking to develop an app compatible with Android Auto?

Having vast experience in auto app development, we at Eastern Peak can help realize your creative idea and build an Android Auto app that will enhance driving experience and bring you profit.

Contact us

Top Android Auto apps

The market for Android car apps is booming at the moment. Such applications enhance drivers’ experiences and make driving safer and more secure, while also providing an engaging and entertaining drive.

Let’s see the top six apps on Android Auto for each popular category.


Waze is an absolute leader among the best driving apps for Android Auto. It is efficient, intuitive, and accurate. Waze provides highly detailed information about the road, adjusting routes to current road situations. Drivers can also get warnings or messages from other drivers in the area or within their community.

On the downside, Waze is fast to drain your phone battery. The Waze community can also be a distracting feature, with many icons and notifications popping up on the screen at any time.


OverDrive is one of the most beloved audiobook applications. It has a simplified navigation option, a great collection of books, and easy search options.

Overall, this application is a perfect match for drivers who spend more than an hour or two in their cars. OverDrive will continue the book where you left off, respond to voice commands, read book descriptions, and add new titles to your book lists.


There is no need to introduce Spotify to frequent drivers. This is the most popular music and podcast platform in the world. Spotify creates special playlists and recommendations based on your listening history. For Android Auto, the software came up with a simplified design and easy control options.


Unsurprisingly, messaging apps on Android Auto are in high demand. Of course, Messenger is at the top of the list, due to Facebook’s popularity. As with any similar communication app on the platform, Messenger works via voice command. It can read incoming messages out loud and transcribe your messages into text.

Thus, you don’t have to look at the screen and get distracted. It’s a perfect application for people who are big on text messaging instead of calls.

The New York Times

For everyone who is afraid to fall out of the news cycle, the New York Times has come up with a simple auto solution. Now, avid news readers can enjoy the NYTimes app for drivers. This app has audio versions for all big, new, and major event coverings. Also, the application has a pleasant design that resembles an old-fashioned newspaper.


Autovaras serves as an assistant for car maintenance. This application tracks all the important dates and inspection times. Close to the due day, it will send reminders about upcoming car inspections, insurance payments, tire changes, etc.

The application was built with basic functionality and aims to be simple and easy to use. Yet, it gets the job done and memorizes all the data, so you don’t have to.

Design guidance for Android Auto apps

The key aspect of auto app development concerns its design. Apps for drivers should never be distracting. Hence, the app’s design should minimize any need for interactions, making the interface concise and simple. A successful design will minimize any risks for drivers and meet their immediate needs, without forcing a driver to take their eyes off the road.


Overall, developing apps for Android Auto relies on four main components:

  1. Interaction model: an app should not require the driver’s undivided attention. The app’s functions should be straightforward, simple, and fast. Such a design should also predict interruption patterns as, most of the time, drivers won’t focus on the screen.
  2. Visual element: an app should have enlarged fonts and icons, making the visuals on the screen easy to spot and identify. The visuals should also be clear and easily distinguishable in different lighting or among each other.
  3. Style foundations: Android Auto apps’ style should not differ much from the original one. Drivers should be able to recognize the traditional color scheme and brand style of the product. However, certain style elements and app layouts should be accustomed to the new context.
  4. System UI: all applications should consider the Android Auto UI that contains two system bars: the status bar and the navbar. The former provides basic information like weather, time, or system updates. The latter includes platforms’ settings and features. The app content area should be located in the middle with data about the app history or a presently open application.

Create driving apps for Android Auto

Android Auto apps are complete game-changers when it comes to driving experiences. They create a more personalized, convenient, and efficient way to commute with minimum distractions.

Most Android users will prioritize cars that support Android Auto. The more there are cars compatible with this infotainment system, the wider the market becomes. It appears now to be an opportune time to come up with unique Android cars apps.

So if you wonder how to start an Android auto app, contact our team for a free consultation. With years of experience on the market, the Eastern Peak team will provide you with a detailed guide on Android auto app development and how to launch the product on the market.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Android Auto app used for?

An app for Android Auto can serve various purposes, from navigation to communication and entertainment. Drivers are free to choose the app categories they deem essential for their driving experience.

Can you install Android Auto in any car?

Android Auto should be compatible with the head unit of the car to operate. However, drivers can replace the head unit, or open Android Auto on their gadgets without connecting to the car.

What is the difference between Android Auto and Android Automotive?

When it comes to Android Auto vs. Android Automotive one should consider their car choice. Android Automotive already comes inbuilt with the car, which enhances the software’s functions and scope of features. Android Auto can be used on any gadget, yet, it has limited control of the vehicle functions.

What can you customize in Android Auto?

There are a variety of customization options drivers can use in Android Auto, including interface adjustments, forcing Day/Night modes, resuming media play, setting driving mode in Google Assistant, and more.

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