Why some apps are not available on Android Auto

This usually happens out of the blue as the applications are no longer available in the App Launcher in Android Auto.

The app launcher has a very simple purpose in Android Auto. Users can access any apps that offer Android Auto support and then launch them by tapping the icon. The App Launcher is an integral part of Android Auto and is available in both the previous version and Coolwalk.

The new theme includes a dedicated toggle that allows users to switch from the dashboard to the app launcher. In the previous version of Android Auto, users could easily switch from the app launcher to the full-screen interface of the app in focus.

Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution

Why apps may no longer appear in the App Launcher
In theory, all apps that come with Android Auto support should be included in the launcher. This allows users to run them when the mobile device is connected to the main unit. No changes are required on the mobile device as all supported apps are automatically activated on Android Auto.

In some cases, the apps might not be there, and Google says the configuration on the mobile device is the culprit.

The search giant says the problem mainly occurs on Samsung devices. While similar issues have been reported on other smartphones, Google explains that the settings Samsung phones ship with are often to blame.

Therefore, the main cause of apps not showing up on app launch on Android Auto lies in Samsung’s aggressive power management. Google explains that apps may be temporarily disabled and therefore won’t appear in the Android Auto app launcher. If an app isn’t in the launcher, it won’t run on Android Auto either, as there’s no way to launch it. Asking the Google Assistant to launch an app that doesn’t appear in the launcher fails because it can’t be found.

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The power management configuration available on Samsung devices has a very simple role. By temporarily disabling applications, the operating system can improve battery life because software running in the background no longer consumes power. Performance is also said to be improved as the resources used by background apps are reclaimed.

Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution

Samsung’s aggressive power management system kicks in automatically. It targets applications that you haven’t used in a while. If you previously launched an app but haven’t interacted with it recently, it will be automatically disabled.

The issue does not occur on mobile devices as disabled apps are still available in the App Launcher. With Android Auto, however, this is done on purpose. If apps are disabled on the mobile device, they will be removed from the app launcher.

Re-enabling a disabled app is pretty easy, and most of the time it all boils down to launching it on a mobile device. As soon as you start an app on your smartphone, the operating system provides you with the resources you need. After that, it should also appear on Android Auto. The launcher will not update automatically if it is already in focus when launching a paused app. Therefore, switch between the launcher and the dashboard to see the enabled apps.

Restarting apps on the mobile device is the simplest solution to fix this problem, but at the same time, a second solution prevents it from happening. It’s about changing device settings and thereby preventing apps from being suspended.

For this you need to go to the battery settings of the mobile phone. Look for an option called “Automatically turn off unused apps” or “Put unused apps to sleep”. Disable this behavior and then the apps should no longer be paused and thus remain available on Android Auto.

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Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution

In theory, you can configure exceptions on the mobile device to prevent the apps you use on Android Auto from being blocked. At the same time, you can disable this aggressive power management system entirely if you want to avoid disabling all apps.

Similar workarounds might help restore apps on other mobile devices, since Samsung isn’t the only phone maker whose software can disable apps. The purpose is the same in any case as it offloads unused apps and saves resources to improve the phone’s performance.

If an app still doesn’t appear in the Android Auto launcher, you should also check that you’re running the latest version. Bugs could also affect Android Auto support, causing some apps to be lost for no apparent reason. Therefore, installing the latest builds should guarantee the most stable experience. Needless to say, keeping Android Auto up to date and not running beta builds can also help prevent glitches that cause apps to disappear.