Android app quality for cars

Android apps for cars should avoid driver distraction above all else. You can minimize distractions by following best practices, such as using voice commands and a very simple visual design.

Great car experiences are predictive and predictable. Your app should show timely information to the driver only when it's relevant, and use simple, predictable patterns for common tasks. For more information, refer to the following design guidelines:

Testing your app

You must test your app for the criteria listed on this page before submitting your app to Google Play for review. As applicable, test each of the three ways a driver can access your app:

Access on Android Automotive OS
Use the Android Emulator to validate each checklist item. For more information, see Test your app for Android-powered vehicles.
Access on an Android Auto compatible car display
Use the Android Auto Desktop Head Unit (DHU) to validate each checklist item. For more information, see Test your app for Android Auto compatible car displays.
Access on a phone screen
Use a phone to validate each checklist item. For more information, see Test your app for phone screens.

Core app quality

In addition to the car-specific criteria listed below, apps should meet all relevant core app quality criteria for the Android platform, as detailed in core app quality. Test your app against those criteria to ensure that it meets Android standards for navigation and design. Then test your app against all car-specific criteria, remembering that, when running on a device connected to Android Auto or an Android Automotive OS device, your app must meet the requirements listed on this page.

Car app guidelines

App Categories

Supported categories Android Auto Android Automotive OS

Visual design and user interaction

These criteria ensure that your app follows critical design and interaction patterns to offer a consistent, intuitive, and enjoyable user experience in cars. Many elements, such as the navigation drawer, card backgrounds, fonts and icon colors, are set and rendered by the system. Your app-specific design elements must meet the following criteria when running on a car's head unit screen.

Criteria ID Description
Screen Animation SA-1

The app does not display animated elements on the screen such as animated graphics or video.

Visual or Text Ads AD-1

The app does not display text-based advertising other than the advertiser's name or the product name.

Image Usage IU-1

App elements do not display any images on the screen. Exceptions include:

  • Apps may display a single static image for content context in the background of the consumption screen, such as album art or the advertiser's corporate logo.
  • Apps may display icons in the content navigation drawer.
  • Apps may display images and photographs to aid in driving decision-making.
  • Navigation apps may display an image for lane guidance or junction guidance.
Permitted Categories PC-1

The app does not include features outside the app types intended for cars. (Learn More)

Visual Information on Phone VI-1

Android Auto only: If the user must go to the phone screen (for example, to act on a permission request), then the app must display a message instructing the user to only look at their phone screen when it’s safe to do so. (Learn How for media, Learn How for navigation and point of interest apps)

App Doesn't Crash AC-1

Users must be able to complete tasks in the app using five screens or fewer. (Learn How)

Scrolling Text ST-1

The app does not display automatically scrolling text.

Voice Commands VC-1

The app must support Google Assistant voice commands. (Learn How for media, Learn How for navigation)

Delayed Response DR-1

App-specific buttons respond to user actions with no more than a two-second delay.

DR-2

The app launches in no more than 10 seconds.

DR-3

The app loads content in no more than 10 seconds.

Contrast VD-1

The app provides icons and colors that meet Android Auto’s contrast requirements. (Learn How)

VD-2

The app provides white icon sets that the system colorizes to provide automatic contrast compensation.

VD-3

The app provides colors that the system can optimize for easy in-vehicle readability.

Display Orientation DO-1

UIs drawn by the app support both landscape and portrait screens.

Functionality

These criteria ensure that your app is configured correctly and provides the expected functional behavior when running on the car's head unit screen.

Criteria ID Description
Expected Performance EP-1

App functionality works as expected or described in the app's Google Play Store listing.

EP-2

When the app is relaunched from the home screen, the app restores the app state as closely as possible to the previous state.

Grey Buttons GB-1

Interactive elements that are intentionally greyed-out must be non-functional.

Driver Distraction DD-1

The navigation audio channel may only be used by navigation apps and for navigation instructions. (Learn How)

DD-2

While driving, the video app must not be launchable and the video app's screen must not be visible. The video app's audio must stop when the user starts driving. (Learn How)

Payments PA-1

The app must have simple flows if purchases are enabled, using shortcuts such as recent or favorite purchases. (Learn How)

The app must not allow any of the following:

  • Setup of payment methods
  • Multiple items to be selected for purchase
  • The user to commit to recurring payments (for example, subscriptions)
Notification Ads NA-1

The app does not present advertisements through notifications.

Irrelevant Notifications IN-1

The app displays notifications only when relevant to the driver's needs.

Examples:
Good: Notifying the user that a new message has arrived.
Bad: Notifying the user about a new album release.

Media Autoplay MA-1

Media apps do not autoplay on startup or without user initiated action to select the app or app media. (Learn How)

Messaging Functionality MF-1

The app receives incoming messages. (Learn How)

MF-2

Messages are properly grouped and displayed in the correct order. (Learn How)

MF-3

The user can reply to a message. (Learn How)

MF-4

The app uses short-form messaging app design patterns. Traditional long-form messaging apps, such as apps for email, are not permitted.

MF-5

The app implements a peer-to-peer messaging service and not notification services such as those for weather, stocks, and sport scores.

NF-1

The app must provide turn-by-turn navigation directions.

NF-2

The app draws only map content on the surface of the navigation templates. Text-based turn-by-turn directions, lane guidance, and estimated arrival time must be displayed on the relevant components of the Navigation template. Additional information relevant to the drive (e.g., speed limit, road obstructions) can be drawn on the safe area of the map.

NF-3

When the app provides text-based turn-by-turn directions, then it must also trigger navigation notifications. (Learn How)

NF-4

When the navigation app provides text-based turn-by-turn directions, it must send next-turn information to the vehicle’s cluster display. (Learn How)

NF-5

The app must not provide turn-by-turn notifications, voice guidance, or cluster information when another navigation app is providing turn-by-turn instructions. (Learn How)

NF-6

The app must handle navigation requests from other Android Auto apps. (Learn How)

NF-7

The app must provide a “test drive” mode that simulates driving. (Learn How)

NF-8

The app must draw a light-themed or dark-themed map when instructed to do so. (Learn How)

Point of Interest Functionality PF-1

The app must provide meaningful functionality relevant to driving.

Settings Flow SF-1

App must proceed to the home page after (attempted) sign-in.

Automotive Functionality AF-1

App does not contain any distraction optimized activities.

CPU Architectures CP-1

App supports both x86_64 and ARM CPUs.

App Navigability AN-1

App allows users to navigate through the app without encountering any dead ends.

Frequently asked questions

What happens after I submit my app?

Apps for cars are subject to an additional manual review beyond normal Play Store review processes. Your app will be tested to ensure Driver Distraction Regulation compliance against the criteria described above.

After submitting my app, how will I find out if my app does not meet all the requirements for Android Auto or Android Automotive OS?

If your app does not meet the usability requirements described on this page, the Play Store team will contact you through the email address specified in the Google Play Console account associated with the app.

Note: For information about how to publish your app in Google Play, see Distribute Android apps for cars.

My app targets more than just Android Auto or Android Automotive OS. If my app does not meet the car requirements, will my new or updated app still appear on Google Play for other devices?

No. When Google begins the approval process, your app will undergo a driver safety review, and any subsequent updates will not be available for distribution until the app is approved. If you need to make updates to your app for other devices, we recommend creating a separate release from the updates to your car app.

Important: Due to this restriction, you should not use your production APK for Auto support prototyping.

Change notes

May 2022

  • App Categories: "Parking & Charging" has been replaced with "Point of Interest"
  • Screen Animation
    • Categories affected: Media, Messaging, Navigation, Point of Interest
    • Previous text:


      The app does not display animated elements on the screen such as animated graphics, video, or progress bars.


    • New text:


      The app does not display animated elements on the screen such as animated graphics or video.


  • Image Usage
    • Categories affected: Media, Messaging, Navigation, Point of Interest
    • Previous text:


      App elements do not display any images on the screen. Exceptions include:

      • Apps may display a single static image for content context in the background of the consumption screen, such as album art or the advertiser's corporate logo.
      • Apps may display icons in the content navigation drawer.
      • Navigation, parking, and charging apps may display images and photographs to aid in driving decision-making.
      • Navigation apps may display an image for lane guidance or junction guidance.

    • New text:


      App elements do not display any images on the screen. Exceptions include:

      • Apps may display a single static image for content context in the background of the consumption screen, such as album art or the advertiser's corporate logo.
      • Apps may display icons in the content navigation drawer.
      • Apps may display images and photographs to aid in driving decision-making.
      • Navigation apps may display an image for lane guidance or junction guidance.

  • Permitted Categories
    • Categories affected: Media, Messaging, Navigation, Point of Interest, Video
    • Previous text:


      The app does not include games or other features outside the app types intended for cars. (Learn More)
    • New text:


      The app does not include features outside the app types intended for cars. (Learn More)
  • Visual Information on Phone
    • Categories affected: Media, Navigation, Point of Interest
    • Previous text:


      Android Auto only: If the user must go to the phone screen (for example, to act on a permission request), then the app must display a message instructing the user to only look at their phone screen when it’s safe to do so. (Learn How for media, Learn How for navigation, parking, and charging)
    • New text:


      Android Auto only: If the user must go to the phone screen (for example, to act on a permission request), then the app must display a message instructing the user to only look at their phone screen when it’s safe to do so. (Learn How for media, Learn How for navigation and point of interest apps)
  • Navigation Functionality
    • Categories affected: Navigation
    • Previous text:


      The app draws only map content on the surface of the navigation templates. Text-based turn-by-turn directions, lane guidance, and estimated arrival time must be displayed on the relevant components of the Navigation template. Additional information relevant to the drive (e.g., speed limit, road obstructions) can be drawn on the right side of the map.
    • New text:


      The app draws only map content on the surface of the navigation templates. Text-based turn-by-turn directions, lane guidance, and estimated arrival time must be displayed on the relevant components of the Navigation template. Additional information relevant to the drive (e.g., speed limit, road obstructions) can be drawn on the safe area of the map.
  • Point of Interest Functionality
    • Categories affected: Point of Interest
    • Previous text:


      The app must provide meaningful functionality in its category relevant to driving.
    • New text:


      The app must provide meaningful functionality relevant to driving.
    • Removed criteria:


      If a parking app is displaying a list of locations next to a map (e.g., the Place List Map template), then the locations in the list can only be parking spots.

      Similarly, for a charging app, the locations must be charging stations.


April 2022

  • Display Orientation
    • Categories affected: Video
    • New criteria:


      UIs drawn by the app support both landscape and portrait screens.

  • Driver Distraction
    • Categories affected: Video
    • New criteria:


      While driving, the video app must not be launchable and the video app's screen must not be visible. The video app's audio must stop when the user starts driving.

  • Settings Flow
    • Categories affected: Video
    • New criteria:


      App must proceed to the home page after (attempted) sign-in.

  • Automotive Functionality
    • Categories affected: Video
    • New criteria:


      App does not contain driver optimized activities.

  • CPU Architectures
    • Categories affected: Video
    • New criteria:


      App supports both x86_64 and ARM CPUs.

  • App Navigablity
    • Categories affected: Video
    • New criteria:


      App allows users to navigate through the app without encountering any dead ends.

November 2021

  • Visual Information on Phone
    • Categories affected: Media, Navigation, Parking & Charging
    • Previous text:


      While the app is interacting with the car screen and the car is not parked, the app does not activate the phone screen to present any form of visual information such as notifications, toasts, video, images, advertising, or similar (Learn How for navigation, parking, and charging). Similarly, while the app is running Android Auto UI on the phone screen, the app does not present any visual information on the phone screen that is unrelated to Android Auto.

      If the user must go to the phone screen (e.g., to act on a permission request), then the app must display a message instructing the user to only look at their phone screen when it’s safe to do so.


    • New text:


      Android Auto only: If the user must go to the phone screen (for example, to act on a permission request), then the app must display a message instructing the user to only look at their phone screen when it’s safe to do so. (Learn How for media, Learn How for navigation, parking, and charging)


  • Payments
    • Categories affected: Navigation, Parking & Charging
    • Previous text:


      The app must have simple flows if purchases are enabled.


    • New text:


      The app must have simple flows if purchases are enabled, using shortcuts such as recent or favorite purchases. (Learn How)

      The app must not allow any of the following:

      • Setup of payment methods
      • Multiple items to be selected for purchase
      • The user to commit to recurring payments (for example, subscriptions)