How to download Android Auto apps

Voice command integration allows users to control their apps without looking at the screen, reducing distraction behind the wheel.

By default, most Android devices come with a number of pre-installed apps that offer Android Auto compatibility. Google Maps is the default navigation app, so Android Auto can already provide route guidance by default.

Android Auto also supports third-party applications. This allows users to access their favorite services even when the mobile device is connected to the Android Auto head unit in their car.

Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution

The unified app experience
Android apps must be specifically updated to support Android Auto. This means that not all apps that are available on your mobile device can also be run in the car when the phone is connected to a head unit.

Apps running on Android Auto use Google templates by default, which eventually help provide a consistent in-car experience.

For example, all music apps offer a similar “Now Playing” interface. So when Google makes a change to the default template, the update isn’t limited to a specific application.

Listening to music on Spotify and YouTube Music is therefore a similar experience, although the difference ultimately comes down to the content available in the two apps and other unique features.

Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution

Download Android Auto apps
Since Android Auto is essentially the mobile user interface mirrored on the dashboard screen, the apps you see in the car are still running on the smartphone.

This means that you cannot install any apps on the head unit itself as the entire experience is powered by the mobile device.

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Compared to Android Auto, Android Automotive runs at the vehicle hardware level. The platform does not require a mobile device to run and is only available in vehicles that have it installed from the factory. Getting Android Automotive into a car where it’s not already available isn’t possible.

Android Auto can also be installed in a vehicle that was shipped without support for the app. An aftermarket head unit upgrade would give drivers either wired or wireless Android Auto support. The cheapest Android Auto head units only come with wired connectivity.

Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution

Therefore, apps running on Android Auto must first be installed on the Android device. If the app comes with Android Auto support, it should automatically show up in the car.

In some cases, the apps may not be available on Android Auto if they have been disabled or suspended by the operating system. This happens when they consume device resources. In most cases, simply running the mobile device will restore them to the smartphone and eventually re-enable them on Android Auto as well.

If you want to install a new Android Auto, you can download any application that supports the car experience from the Google Play Store. There is no specific filter for this, but Google has created a special app group for Android Auto.

The “Android Auto Essentials” contain the most popular apps currently offered to drivers. Big names like Waze, Spotify and WhatsApp belong to this group. Oddly enough, Google’s own YouTube music is only highlighted in the music app category, but isn’t considered Android Auto essential.

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Google recommends apps from categories like music, live news, sports, messaging, audiobooks, and podcasts. It’s worth noting that other apps also offer Android Auto support but aren’t listed on this page, so you can install them by searching for them directly in the Google Play Store.

Users need to set up apps on mobile devices, and then the same configuration is carried over to Android Auto.

Photo: Google

Google also shares a list of Android Automotive apps on the same page, but this might make things more confusing for beginners. Android automotive apps can also be installed directly from the vehicle via the pre-installed Google Play Store. As explained earlier, Android Automotive is the updated version of Android Auto and does not require a mobile device to run. Some Android Automotive apps may not run on Android Auto.

Messaging apps that run on Android Auto, like WhatsApp and Telegram, don’t have a conversational interface similar to that on mobile. The messaging experience is powered by Google Assistant, which is responsible for reading incoming messages and sending replies. Therefore, the application runs entirely on the mobile device, so you will only be notified when you receive a message. Users are not allowed to enter text through the Android Auto display in these apps.

The Android Auto app collection recommended by Google does not contain a navigation app group. The only name highlighted is Waze, but Android Auto users can also install a number of alternatives, including Sygic GPS Navigation and HERE WeGo