Google first announced a native version of Android for car makers, and that’s finally going to ship in a car starting this year. Ahead of the launch of the Polestar 2 and more information at Google I/O 2019, the company is encouraging developers to build media apps for Android Automotive.

Not to be confused with the “projected” version that displays from your phone, Android Automotive is a version of Google’s OS that is designed to be natively built into cars. It runs independent of your smartphone and has its own set of apps. Google previously called this “Android Auto native,” but the company is now explicitly calling it “Android Automotive” going forward.

In a blog post, Google encourages developers to build apps with Android Automotive in mind. The company explains that apps built for the platform would be complicated due to the number of screen sizes and input methods at play, along with safety guidelines. However, the Android Auto framework will help lessen the complexities, and a session at Google I/O will further detail tools for these developers.

Google says that there is “increasing demand” for Android Automotive from car makers, so encouraging developers to get a headstart with their apps makes a lot of sense. The Polestar 2 electric car is set to be the first to be available with Android Automotive and its accompanying apps, and the car will be on display at I/O 2019 to show off the system.

The push for apps on Android Automotive will start with media applications. Google says users, OEMS, and developers have all made it clear that it’s the primary use case when driving. Starting at Google I/O 2019, media app developers will be able to start creating their experiences for the platform.

android automotive apps

Google Play Books and NPR One apps built for Android Automotive

As the first cars hit the road, we have heard loud and clear from developers, users and OEMs that consuming media like music or podcasts is one of the key use cases while driving. This is why today, we are announcing that media app developers will be able to start creating new entertainment experiences for Android Automotive OS and the Polestar 2, starting at Google I/O.

With a variety of screen sizes, input methods, OEM customizations and regional driver safety guidelines, building embedded apps for cars at scale is a complicated process for developers to do on their own. In order to help manage these complexities, we are building on the same Android Auto framework.

Beyond media, users require the ability to navigate and communicate with others (via calls, messages). With Android Automotive OS and the Google Play Store, we have plans to enable developers to build apps in these areas and beyond.

If you are interested in learning more, watch our Google I/O 2019 Automotive developer session – How to Build Android Apps for Cars – where we walk through details on how to build your media app using the latest Android Studio, which features an Android Automotive OS emulator and templates.

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Ben Schoon

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