How to install apps for Android Auto that Google hasn’t approved
Android Auto is a great service. In compatible cars, you can plug your phone in and get instant access to music, radio, navigation, and more. But it’s a pretty closed ecosystem. Only apps that Google approves can officially be used. The official reason for this is for safety. Google doesn’t want people watching videos while driving, for instance. But what if you have a legitimate reason for using Android Auto (drive-in graduations, for example)?
There are times where it would be nice to use Android Auto for more than just streaming audio or maps. As legitimate as the safety concerns are, they just don’t always apply. So, of course, there are ways to install unofficial Android Auto apps.
Up until now, though, these workarounds only worked on rooted devices, and they involved manually editing Android Auto’s preference files. That’s fine if you have root access, but what if you don’t? Enter Android Auto Apps Downloader (AAAD).
AAAD was developed by XDA Senior Member shmykelsa, who you may recognize as the developer of Extras for AA. As the name implies, Android Auto Apps Downloaders lets you download (and install) unofficial apps for Android Auto. And it works without root or a computer.
I’m not going to get into too much detail, but the way AAAD works is pretty simple. It installs a chosen app like normal but makes Android think the app it installs was installed by the Play Store, instead. Spoofing the app installer is enough for Android Auto to fully add that app to the car display. I personally tested with screen2auto, an app that mirrors your phone’s display to your car, and it works.
Using AAAD is simple, too. When opened, AAAD displays a list of some of the more popular unofficial Android Auto apps. Once you select one, you’ll be asked to confirm the install. Confirm the install and you’re done. AAAD even helps you keep tracked apps up-to-date.
As of now, here’s the list of Android Auto apps you can install with AAAD:
- Carstream – YouTube for Android Auto
- Fermata Auto – free, open source audio and video player
- Screen2Auto – smartphone screen mirroring
- AA Mirror – another smartphone screen mirroring app
- AAStream – another smartphone screen mirroring app
- AA Mirror Plus – yet another smartphone screen mirroring app
- Performance Monitor – monitor data from VAG-group cars
- AA Passenger – stream audio, control nav, show pics from a passenger’s device
- Widgets for Android Auto – add a widget from your phone to your dashboard
- Nav2Contacts – quickly navigate to a contact’s address
Now, there’s a caveat, at least with AAAD. The free version only allows you to install and maintain one app. If you want to install more, you’ll need to buy the pro version. The developer does say that they plan to make the app open source, so once that happens, anyone will be able to build it from source and use the full features for free. But it’s always nice to support a developer’s work.
If you use Android Auto and you want to expand its capabilities beyond what Google sanctions, go check out the thread on the XDA Forums.
Just be warned that Google could block this method at any time. If you’re going to use AAAD, you should probably do it soon.