Google wants to bring HTML5 games to your Android Auto car screen
The other day, users of Reddit’s /r/AndroidAuto community noticed a mysterious “GearSnacks” icon appear in their car’s app list. No references to “GearSnacks” can be found anywhere online except for the Reddit thread, but after launching the app, it was discovered that “GearSnacks” houses a multitude of short games. After digging into the latest Android Auto APK, we can confirm that “GearSnacks” lets you play HTML5 games from Google’s GameSnacks platform on your car’s dashboard.
Redditor /u/MillionMileM8 posted a screenshot yesterday showing “GearSnacks” in his Android Auto app list. When they launched the app and loaded a game, they said they noticed “something like 602 (idk the actual numbers) games brought to you by Google at the bottom.” We managed to manually surface GearSnacks in the app list, and thanks to Redditor RegionRat91, we also have images showing the HTML5 games playable through GearSnacks.
After digging into the latest Android Auto release, we found multiple references to GearSnacks that tie directly to GameSnacks. For those unaware, GameSnacks is an HTML5 gaming platform from Area 120, Google’s lab for experimental projects. (The Reddit user from before was probably thinking of “120” and not “602”.) Announced in early 2020, GameSnacks provides bite-sized HTML5 games that are playable from any web-capable device. Every game supports touch, keyboard, and mouse input and can be played on Android, iOS, and PC through the official GameSnacks website. Earlier this year, Google began integrating HTML5 games from GameSnacks into Google products in several regions, including Chrome, Google Pay, Google Assistant, and Google Discover. In that announcement, Google said it will “look for more opportunities to bring GameSnacks games to more Google products”, and it seems that Android Auto is in consideration.
Currently, it seems the full catalogue of HTML5 games aren’t available through Android Auto, with one user reporting that only 3 games were available to them. When we examined Android Auto’s code, we discovered links to 8 HTML5 games that are seemingly being optimized for Android Auto, including Zoo Boom, Onet Connect Classic, Cannonballs 3D, Pin the UFO, 2048 Giant, Find 500 Differences, Unblock That, and Bubble Woods. The URL for each Android Auto-optimized game contains “auto”; adding “auto” to the URL of existing HTML5 games on GameSnacks predictably doesn’t adjust the layout, indicating that Google is working to optimize games one-by-one.
A string within the APK states that “games are only playable with your touch screen”, so it seems that only vehicles with touchscreen-enabled head units will be allowed to play. Notably, GearSnacks can’t be launched unless the user is parked, which makes sense since Google doesn’t want users to play touch-enabled games while they’re driving. However, since February of this year, select voice-activated games can be played while driving by invoking the Google Assistant.
Google hasn’t made an announcement for GearSnacks yet, but it likely won’t be long before they do.
Images of GameSnacks/GearSnacks in Android Auto. Credits: /u/RegionRat91
Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.