Android Auto extends the Android platform into the car. When users connect their handheld devices running Android 5.0 or higher to a compatible vehicle, the Auto user interface provides a car-optimized Android experience on the vehicle's screen. Users interact with compatible apps and services through voice actions and the vehicle's input controls (like a touchscreen or dashboard buttons).
Android Auto is also available on phone screens, giving users the full Android Auto experience entirely on the phone without needing to connect to a compatible vehicle. With this standalone, handheld version of Android Auto, users can still use voice to handle calls, messages, music, and navigation, using an interface designed for driving.
Auto currently supports two types of apps:
- Audio apps that allow users to browse and play music and spoken audio content in the car.
- Messaging apps that receive incoming notifications, read messages aloud via text-to-speech, and send replies via voice input in the car.
You can enable your existing audio and messaging apps developed for phones and tablets to work in the car, without having to worry about vehicle-specific hardware differences. To enable your app for Auto, your app must target Android 5.0 (API level 21) or higher. Adding support for Android Auto to your existing app will enable it to work on both car and phone screens. Android Auto handles most of the work to adjust each application's user interface to the screen on which it is displayed. Your app’s manifest must also declare the car capabilities that it uses, such as audio playback or messaging services.
This lesson describes how to start building apps for Auto, including setting up your development environment and meeting the minimum requirements to enable an app to communicate with Auto.
Set up an Auto project
This section describes how to create a new app or modify an existing app to communicate with Auto.
Before you begin building apps for Auto, you must:
- Create or
update your app project - Android 5.0 (API level 21) provides new
APIs for implementing audio playback and messaging that is compatible with Auto.
To access the new APIs, create a project or modify an existing project to target
Android 5.0 (API level 21) or higher. This means you must set the manifest
targetSdkVersionto 21 or higher.
- Install the
support library - If you are building messaging apps for Auto, you
NotificationCompat.CarExtenderclass contained in the v4 support library. This class allows you to create notifications that are compatible with Auto devices.
Declare Auto capabilities
The settings in your app manifest and a separate XML configuration file control the Auto features that your app can access. Before adding Auto features to your app, you must first define the Auto XML configuration file and add a manifest entry referencing your XML file.
Define the Auto XML configuration file
Specify the car capabilities that your app uses in an XML file that you
place in your project’s resources directory (
res/xml/). For example, to
extend an audio application for Auto, create a file called
automotive_app_desc.xml and store it under your projects’s
res/xml/ folder. The
automotive_app_desc.xml file contains the
<automotiveApp> <uses name="media" /> </automotiveApp>
<uses> element declares the Auto capability your app
intends to use. If your application uses multiple car capabilities, you can add multiple
name attribute indicates
the specific capability your app uses. The values supported are:
media- The app uses the Android framework APIs to play music in a vehicle. Set this value if you are enabling an audio app for Auto.
notification- The app displays message notifications in the car’s Home screen, allows users to select messages to be read aloud, and lets them respond through voice input. Set this value if you are enabling a messaging app for Auto.
Add a manifest entry
In your app’s manifest (
AndroidManifest.xml), provide a reference to
the Auto XML configuration file you created in the previous section. Add a
"com.google.android.gms.car.application" metadata entry under the
element that references your Auto XML configuration file. Omit the
file extension when specifying the configuration filename.
The following code snippet shows how to include this reference in your manifest.
<application> ... <meta-data android:name="com.google.android.gms.car.application" android:resource="@xml/automotive_app_desc"/> </application>
Add Auto features to your apps
After you complete the steps described above, you're ready to add Auto features to your apps. See these additional topics to help you build apps for Auto:
- Provide audio playback for Auto - Create apps that let users browse and play music in the car.
- Provide messaging for Auto - Enable users to receive and reply to messages in the car.
Important: Google takes driver distraction very seriously. Your app must meet specific design requirements to qualify as an Auto app on Google Play. By adhering to these requirements, you can reduce the effort for building and testing your app. For more information, see Auto app quality.