Skip to content

Most visited

Recently visited


Getting Started with Auto

Dependencies and Prerequisites

  • Android 5.0 (API level 21) or higher

This class teaches you how to

  1. Set Up an Auto Project
  2. Build Auto Apps

You should also read

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).

Auto currently supports two types of apps:

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. 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 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:

Declare Auto capabilities

The Auto features that your app can access are controlled by the settings in your app manifest and a separate XML configuration file. 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 following metadata:

   <uses name="media" />

The <uses> element declares the Auto capability your app intends to use. Multiple <uses> tags can be added if your application uses multiple car capabilities. The name attribute indicates the specific capability your app uses. The values supported are:

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 "" metadata entry under the <application> element that references your Auto XML configuration file. Omit the .xml file extension when specifying the configuration filename.

The following code snippet shows how to include this reference in your manifest.


    <meta-data android:name=""


Add Auto Features to Your Apps

After you have completed 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:

Important: Google takes driver distraction very seriously. There are specific design requirements your app must meet 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.

This site uses cookies to store your preferences for site-specific language and display options.


This class requires API level or higher

This doc is hidden because your selected API level for the documentation is . You can change the documentation API level with the selector above the left navigation.

For more information about specifying the API level your app requires, read Supporting Different Platform Versions.