With Android Automotive, Google maintains the underpinnings of the OS and various services, while car makers can fully customize the UI. That customization extends to third-party apps sporting some differences depending on the car brand. 

In announcing that version 1.2 of the Car App Library is now available in beta, Google noted how applications built for Android Automotive are “automatically rendered to be consistent with the rest of the experience within each car.”

For example, the Polestar 2 leverages “labeled On / Off switches,” while Volvo uses “sliding switches.” The latter also inserts lines between menu items, has a thinner font, and uses bolder titles in app bars. Besides font size and color changes, some buttons are centered and others are left-aligned.

It makes sense that car makers want to skin the homescreen UI — including landscape or portrait screen orientation — of their infotainment experiences, but extending that to differing designs of lists and buttons rather than sticking with a consistent style is quite strange. There should be no impact to functionality, but it’s a curious lack of uniformity. Fortunately, app developers do not need to do any additional work here as Google handles those differences.

Meanwhile, those with Android Automotive vehicles can now sign-up to beta test charging (ChargePointPlugShare), parking (SpotheroParkwhiz), and navigation (FlitsmeisterSygic) apps. Owners have to manually join each Google Group and then opt in to the beta from the Play Store.

Google today also shared that it is expanding support to allow all Points of Interest apps:

Beyond charging and parking, this allows any app that will help users discover and search for interesting locations on a map, and optionally enable them to navigate to such points. We are partnering with MochiMochi, Fuelio, Pezzi Bezzina, and NAVITIME JAPAN as our early access partners.

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com