Google Is Bringing Streaming and Gaming Android Apps to Parked Cars | Lifehacker

Cars with screens aren’t going away anytime soon. Even as scientists bemoan their distractions, companies are embracing them for their adaptability. Case in point: Google is adding even more apps to cars with Android Auto (which runs off a phone) or Google built-in (which is powered by the car itself). Plus, devs are going to have a much easier time bringing their own games and streaming apps to cars in the future.

The news follows Google’s I/O keynote yesterday, and is one of the company’s bigger drops outside of the realms of AI or mobile phones. The best part? Google doesn’t have to do much to make it work, and neither do developers.

Essentially, Google will now bring existing Android apps to cars “without the need for new development or a new release to be created,” Google product managers Vivek Radhakrishnan and Seung Nam said in a press release. This means the Android Auto and Google built-in ecosystems are potentially about to get much larger, all while relying on work that already exists. 

Any app that already works with a large screen could soon naturally also work in the car, with a new tiered system that differentiates Android apps between those built specifically for auto, those with special features on auto, and those made for tablet or phone that just happen to also work on auto. Developers looking to get in on that final tier, “Car ready mobile apps,” can request a review to participate soon, but Google will also start automatically distributing existing Android apps it considers car ready “in the coming months.”

Those concerned about safety can breathe a sigh of relief for now. While Google says it will be starting with categories like gaming apps, video apps, and web browsers, these will only work while the car is parked. There are plans to “expand to other app categories in the future,” so we have yet to see whether any car ready mobile apps will actually be available while driving.

In the meantime, Google is proactively adding a few apps to auto as well, though only to cars with Google built-in. These include Max and Peacock, as well as a version of Angry Birds. Customers with compatible Rivian cars will also soon be able to cast video content to their vehicle, a first for the famously mirroring-prone brand. Other brands are set to follow suit, though again, only those with Google built-in. Again, all of these apps will need your car to be parked for them to work.

None of these quite match Elon Musk’s promise to turn Teslas into full gaming rigs, but for those of us who miss the days of physical buttons and dials, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.