7 key insights for developing successful in-vehicle Android Automotive OS apps

June 13th, 2022

What are the most important factors to consider when developing state-of-the-art in-vehicle apps? Below are seven key insights that will help you create, and enhance, better in-vehicle Android Automotive OS apps for your connected car services.

There is a lot of existing infrastructure for in-vehicle app development – make sure to use it!

In-vehicle app development with Android Automotive OS is largely based on a mature ecosystem of tools and services. Make sure to leverage existing digital infrastructure for your app development. It is possible to reuse existing solutions for centralized logging, analytics, crash reporting, A/B testing, OTA updates, etcetera. These solutions have been battle-tested and proven for decades in the mobile app development space. So no reason to reinvent the wheel.

Your in-vehicle apps need to consider the car’s power lifecycle

The infotainment system will not be powered up all the time. Your in-vehicle apps need to take this into account, and be prepared for a sudden loss of power. In-vehicle apps need to receive and transmit information with greater resiliency than smartphone apps do. Make sure that your in-vehicle apps are able to 1) queue messages to be resent after the app starts again, and 2) discard messages that are no longer valid.

Your in-vehicle apps must be able to handle bad internet connections

While antennas in connected cars tend to be better than those of smartphones, your in-vehicle apps still need to be designed for intermittent connectivity. There are locations where the car’s internet connection will be bad, or perhaps lost altogether. As such, the lifecycle management of your in-vehicle apps needs to be robust at all times.

Connectivity is generally not a problem “on the road”. Most connectivity issues tend to occur at the start or end of a trip, such as when users interact with their apps in an underground parking garage. Ever-reliable cloud synchronization, resilient communication protocols and a clear communication strategy are some essential factors for overcoming these connectivity issues.

Person working on a computer with statistics

Design the User Experience and User Interface from the driver’s perspective

User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) can make or break your in-vehicle apps. They need to be safe and intuitive to use, especially if you want drivers to use them while actually driving. As for UX, remember that the text and graphic elements of your app need to be bigger and clearer, compared to a smartphone or tablet app. In addition, consider having a more optimized UI during driving in particular – to make it less distracting, yet fully usable.

As an OEM, do you have the right tools for your in-vehicle app development?

Car-specific emulators, integrated into the development environment, are key to successful in-vehicle app development and implementation. Android Automotive OS has proven that good emulators can bring developers the speed and confidence they need to trust the emulator without having to run everything on real hardware. It also makes it easy to demo apps without having to sit in a vehicle.

Leverage existing vehicles for in-vehicle app development

App distribution platforms, such as Google Play Store, allow testing with existing production cars. This could be done through whitelisting of specific users, for example, so that your in-vehicle apps will be easier to test on limited user groups (not just test vehicles).

Get to know your in-vehicle app users!

Use appropriate analytics tools, such as Firebase services. Engage directly with your users in online forums, so that they talk to you and not just about you. Make regular updates based on user feedback to show your customers that you are an attentive and ambitious connected car service provider.


Want to know more about how WirelessCar works with in-vehicle apps for Android Automotive OS and other operating systems? You can read more about it, and schedule a demo, here. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact us at Pontus Hanssen and Fredric Kvick. We also recommend that you read our colleagues’ article on this subject – Revolutionizing connected car service delivery – on the WirelessCar blog!

Fredric Kvick
Solution Architect
Pontus Hanssen
IS/IT Architect