Distribute Android apps for cars

  • Launch
  • Android Auto
  • Android Automotive OS

You've got a great app, and Android for Cars and Google Play can help you bring it to users in their vehicles. You do this by building a driver-optimized app for Android Automotive OS and extending your phone app for Android Auto. Then, you can publish your apps using the familiar tools and processes in Google Play.

To get started, review this page to learn how to distribute your Android apps to cars through Google Play. Be sure to read Android app quality for cars for information on the usability, quality, and safety-related guidelines that your apps must meet. When your app is ready, you can accept the Android Auto terms in the Play Console and upload your APK for review.

How to Participate

Google Play lets you deliver apps for use in vehicles. You can develop and publish using your existing Play Console account and your current distribution and pricing settings. It's easy to participate — the sections below outline the process.

1. Understand the guidelines and requirements

To prepare for a successful launch on Android Auto, start by reviewing the guidelines for creating great experiences on Auto. See the Android Auto design guidelines for ideas on extending your app for Auto and details on design and usability.

As you get started designing your Auto experience, make sure to read and understand the quality guidelines for Auto apps. Only apps that are usable on Auto are designated as Auto apps on Google Play — your apps are eligible if they meet a set of basic quality criteria. See Auto app quality for details.

2. Develop a great app for Auto

A great app for Auto is designed for vehicle use and takes advantage of the capabilities of Android Auto. The app offers a high-quality experience while the user is on the go. For instance, the app may provide playback for audio content or access messages.

As you consider your Auto app, review the developer documentation and usability guidelines and plan on supporting them to the greatest extent possible. Make sure to design a great experience and adhere to our guidelines for preventing driver distraction.

You must deliver your Auto experience as part of a new or existing app for phones, tablets, and other devices, using the same package name and store listing.

3. Test for Auto app quality

Your Auto apps should be designed to perform well, look great in the car, and offer the best user experience possible. Google Play will showcase selected high-quality Auto apps for easy discovery by users in Google Play. To participate and deliver an Android Auto app that users will enjoy you must:

4. Agree to Android Auto terms and publish

Before you can upload your APK and publish the app for review, the developer account owner must agree to the Android Auto terms from the Pricing and Distribution section of the Play Console. Agreeing to the terms means that you want your app to be made available to Android Auto users through Google Play, and that your app meets the Auto app quality guidelines. Your Auto app can be uploaded only after you have agreed to the terms.

In addition, for the Play Store to list your app as an Android Auto app, your app manifest must declare the com.google.android.gms.car.application metadata entry with auto capabilities that the app uses. For more information about configuring your app for use with Android Auto, see Declare media support for Android Auto or Declare messaging support for Android Auto, depending on the type of app you are building.

After you've built your release-ready APK and tested to ensure that it meets all of the Auto app quality guidelines, upload it to the Google Play Console. Update your store listing with any additional Auto functionality information, and set distribution options as needed. If you aren't familiar with how to prepare for launch on Google Play, see the Launch Checklist.

After you agree to the terms and save the changes, you can upload and publish your app as usual. Before making the app available to Android Auto users, Google Play submits your app for review against the Auto app quality criteria and notifies you of the result. If your app is approved, Google Play makes that app available to Android Auto users. See the next section for details on how to track the approval status of your app.

Note that the review affects the availability of your app to other devices in Google Play Store — phones and tablets, for example. If you have an existing app that includes updates to the phone or tablet component, the Android Auto component must pass review before the updated app is made available on the Google Play store for any device.

Here are the steps to agree to Android Auto terms in the Play Console:

  • Make sure your app meets all Auto app quality guidelines.
  • In the All Applications page, click the app you want to publish.
  • Under Pricing and Distribution, scroll down to find Android Auto and the link to the terms.
  • Click the terms link.
  • Read through the terms and click Agree.

5. Track your review

Your app is reviewed for compliance with driver distraction guidelines and the technical and quality criteria described above. This detailed review process may take more time than you are accustomed to when submitting phone and tablet apps. Until your app or update is approved, it is not published to the Google Play store. After a successful review, your app will be published and made available on the Google Play store.

If your app is not accepted, you receive a notification email sent to your developer account address, with a summary of the areas that you need to address. When you've made the necessary adjustments, you can upload a new version of your app for review.

Note that if the submitted app is an update to an existing app, and your updated app does not meet the review criteria, the update is rejected and the existing app remains published in the Google Play store.

To understand how your apps are evaluated, see the Auto app quality guidelines.