Google today released its first Android Auto APIs. This means third-party Android developers can now build apps for the car.

Android Auto currently only supports two types of third-party apps: audio and messaging. Audio apps expose audio content (music, podcasts, news, and so on) for users to browse and play back in the car. Messaging apps let users receive incoming notifications, read messages aloud, and send replies via voice from the car.

Google says the Android Auto APIs let developers easily extend their existing apps targeting Android 5.0 (API level 21) or higher to work in the car. There is no need to worry about vehicle-specific hardware differences, meaning developers can theoretically reach cars across manufacturers, model, and regions, with one set of APIs and UX standards.

If you’re a developer interested in Android Auto, check out Google’s Getting Started guide. While the APIs are available today, apps extended with Android Auto cannot yet be published to Google Play.

Google didn’t share when that will change. The company did say, however, that more app categories will be supported “in the future.”


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Android Auto was first previewed at Google’s I/O conference in June. The company showed how a driver can connect his or her phone to the car, put the phone down, and use the car’s dials and buttons to control the apps running on his mobile device.

Once Android Auto apps become available, users will able to connect their devices to compatible vehicles. This will give them a car-optimized Android experience that works with the car’s head unit display, steering wheel buttons, and so on.

Google says it already has Android Auto apps coming from iHeartRadio, Joyride, Kik, MLB.com, NPR, Pandora, PocketCasts, Songza, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher, TextMe, textPlus, TuneIn, Umano, and WhatsApp. Those are just the company’s early partners though. With the new APIs, any developer will be able to join the list.