Android Automotive is made for cars but this developer ported it to a Samsung tablet
Android Automotive is a special fork of Android designed to run as the primary operating system of an In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) system. In contrast, Android Auto is an app that runs off of your phone that projects a driving-optimized UI onto the car’s built-in dashboard. Both Android Automotive and Android Auto let you run driving-optimized versions of apps like Google Maps, but Android Automotive is far more tightly integrated with the car’s sensors and lets you control vehicle-specific functions like the AC.
Android Studio provides an Android Automotive emulator image for developers to try their apps out on, but it’s also possible to compile a system image manually. That’s because Android Automotive is open source and available in AOSP, so it’s possible to build a generic system image of it.
That’s what Reddit user tompratt has done. The user posted a thread on the /r/LineageOS subreddit showing off his work on booting Android Automotive onto the Galaxy Tab S5e. According to him, it “works great in [his] car thanks to the buil[t] in 4G, GPS, microphones, speakers[,] etc.” There’s no publicly available Google Apps package for Android Automotive builds (Google Automotive Services, or GAS, is licensed to automotive OEMs), so the developer instead sideloaded the Aurora Store in order to download apps, such as the TomTom Amigo app for navigation, as shown in the images he shared. There are only a handful of vehicles on the market with Android Automotive built-in, so it’d be difficult (but possible) to obtain other Google automotive apps.
Images courtesy of tompratt
Of course, flashing Android Automotive onto a tablet is definitely niche, but DIY car modders might find the combo to provide a much nicer in-vehicle experience than the car’s default headunit (if it even has one!) Sadly, installing Android Automotive won’t let you control functions like the car’s AC, but you at least get the rest of the AAOS experience.
For now, the build that tompratt showed off isn’t available for download, but the developer says he’s interested in working with the LineageOS team to release official automotive builds. He says he’s built Android Automotive builds based on LineageOS 17.1 and 18.1 (meaning, Android 10 and Android 11) so far, and we’re looking forward to seeing this work come to life.
This article was updated at 2:22 PM ET with clarifications from the developer.