Home TECH Google updates Android in-car experiences with new apps and features

Google updates Android in-car experiences with new apps and features

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Google has unveiled a host of fresh apps and features slated to arrive on vehicles equipped with Android Auto and Android Automotive OS, alongside launching a novel initiative to broaden the app ecosystem across these platforms.

In this announcement, the tech titan confirmed the impending arrival of new entertainment apps like Max and Peacock for multimedia streaming services, along with the mobile game Angry Birds, on select cars featuring Google integration. Additionally, Google introduced the Uber Driver app for Android Auto, empowering Uber drivers to seamlessly accept rides and deliveries while accessing turn-by-turn directions on a larger display. Complementing these new apps, Google Cast will debut on cars equipped with Android Automotive, initially rolling out in EVs from Rivian. This feature enables users to cast video content from their mobile devices directly onto the car’s central display while parked.

Presenting these updates in conjunction with its annual I/O conference, Google also outlined several initiatives aimed at assisting app developers in bringing their solutions to vehicles. Central to these efforts are Google’s newly introduced quality tiers, inspired by those established for large screens, which aim to simplify the process of adapting existing apps for cars by emphasizing what constitutes a stellar user experience in a vehicle.

Tier 1, dubbed ‘Car differentiated’, represents the pinnacle of innovation. Apps in this tier are meticulously crafted to function seamlessly across a wide spectrum of vehicle hardware, adjusting their interface to suit both driving and stationary modes. They offer a robust user experience optimized for various screens within the car, including the center console, instrument cluster, and panoramic displays found in many premium vehicles.

Tier 2, known as ‘Car optimized’, corresponds to the majority of apps currently available in cars, delivering a satisfactory experience on the car’s center stack display. These apps incorporate some car-specific features to ensure usability across driving or parked scenarios, depending on the app’s category. Meanwhile, apps in the third tier, labeled ‘Car ready’, are compatible with large screens and operate while the car is parked, often without necessitating additional modifications. While these apps may lack car-specific functionalities, users can interact with them much like they would on any other large-screen Android device.

By committing to these tiers, Google, in collaboration with automotive OEMs, will introduce a Car ready mobile apps program aimed at accelerating the integration of smartphone apps into vehicles. Under this initiative, Google will proactively evaluate mobile apps that are already adaptive and compatible with large screens to ensure their safety and suitability for use in cars. Apps meeting the criteria will automatically be included for distribution on cars with Google integration and made accessible via Android Auto without requiring further development or the release of new software updates. The program will initially focus on app categories suitable for use while the car is parked, such as video streaming, gaming, and web browsing, with plans to expand to additional categories in the future.

The rollout of this program is slated to commence in the coming months, though developers with large screen-compatible adaptive apps falling into the aforementioned categories can request an expedited review should they wish to participate sooner.