By the end of the year, more than 10 car models from Volvo, GM, Renault, and Polestar will be powered by the Android Automotive operating system — and all of the built-in Google apps and services that come with it. Now, the company is making it easier for third-party developers to bring their navigation, EV charging, parking, and media apps directly to a car’s screen.
Google announced Tuesday at its annual developer conference that it’s extending its Android for Cars App Library, which is available as part of Jetpack, to support the Android Automotive operating system. This is good news for developers who can now create an app compatible with two different but sometimes overlapping platforms: Android OS and Android Auto. It also means developers can build one app that should work seamlessly between various makes and models of vehicles.
Google said Tuesday it is already working with Early Access Partners, including Parkwhiz, Plugshare, Sygic, ChargePoint, Flitsmeister, SpotHero, and others, to bring apps in these categories to cars powered by Android Automotive OS.
Android Automotive OS shouldn’t be confused with Android Auto, a secondary interface that lies on top of an operating system. Android Auto is an app that runs on the user’s phone and wirelessly communicates with the vehicle’s infotainment system. Meanwhile, Android Automotive OS is modeled after its open-source mobile operating system that runs on Linux. But instead of running smartphones and tablets, Google modified it so automakers could use it in their cars. Google has offered an open-source version of this OS to automakers for some time. But in recent years, automakers have worked with the tech company to natively build an Android OS that is embedded with all the Google apps and services such as Google Assistant, Google Maps, and the Google Play Store.
Many third-party developers like Spotify have used the Android for Cars App Library to create and publish their Android Auto apps to the Play Store. By extending the Cars App to the operating system, developers will only need to build once.
Two years ago, Google opened its Android Automotive operating system to third-party developers to bring music and other entertainment apps into vehicle infotainment systems. Polestar 2, the all-electric vehicle developed by Volvo’s standalone electric performance brand, was the first. And more have followed, including the Volvo XC40 Recharge.
According to Google, companies interested in participating in the early access program will have to fill out this interest form.