Android Auto now shows apps that only work when your car is parked

No more last-minute surprises! These apps get a small "P" on top of their icon, letting you know they're unavailable while moving.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer

If you use Android Auto in your vehicle, you've probably run across a situation where you tried to use an app only to receive an error message that it can't be used while driving.

That should happen a lot less frequently going forward, as Android Auto now clearly marks apps that are "parked only," letting you know before you fire them up.

Also: The best Android phones you can buy: Expert tested

In the most recent update, version 11.4, these apps get a small "P" on top of their icon, letting you know they're unavailable while moving. Previously, you wouldn't know until you actually tapped on the app's icon. 

Why have apps on a car's dashboard that can't be used while driving? Google answers this on a support page for developers. While Android Auto is designed mainly for music, messaging, and navigation apps, there are browsers and games intended for use only when the vehicle is not in motion – say, while you're charging an electric vehicle or you're sitting in a school pickup line.

Perhaps the most well-known of these apps is Google's own GameSnacks, which offers "bite-sized games in cars" that are designed to be played on a vehicle's infotainment screen.

And since Google knows it's probably not a good idea for a driver to fire up a game app while going down the road, certain apps are locked unless the car is in park. This of course also locks out passengers from using them while the car is moving and stops drivers from quickly opening them at a stoplight.

Also: The top six Android 15 features I'm most excited about

While this isn't exactly a huge change, it's certainly a useful one, and one that may help you keep your eyes on the road a little longer. 

Editorial standards