Google Accused of Blocking Android Auto Apps From Third-Party Stores

Android Auto home screen 1 photo
Photo: Alpine
Android Auto is causing more legal trouble for Google. The South Korean government is ready to begin an antitrust probe to determine whether the company restricted access to its car platform for apps downloaded from third-party stores.
Earlier this month, the Italian competition watchdog fined Google for not allowing a third-party EV app to be updated with support for Android Auto.

Korean media reports that Google is now accused of blocking apps downloaded from third-party stores from running on Android Auto, a feature that’s already available on a significant number of cars sold in the country.

Just like iOS, which comes with Apple’s App Store offered by default on all iPhones, Android bundles its very own app store called Google Play Store, which is maintained by Google. But unlike Apple’s platform, Android also allows third-party stores, with some apps available in more than one version in an attempt to reach a bigger audience.

For example, there are apps listed for download not only on Google’s Play Store but also in Samsung’s Galaxy Store. And according to this latest claim, it’s believed the search giant has blocked apps from showing up on Android Auto unless they were specifically downloaded from the Google Play Store.

The company hasn’t responded to these accusations, but the Korea Communications Commission says it would launch a probe to determine if the access for these apps has indeed been restricted on Android Auto.

Google has recently unlocked Android Auto for more third-party app categories, including parking solutions and EV tools, therefore allowing developers to provide users with alternatives even to its very own apps. For example, several big companies, including Sygic and TomTom, have already released their navigation solutions on Android Auto following this announcement, therefore allowing users to replace Google Maps with other third-party solutions when getting behind the wheel.

More apps are currently in the works, with the Android Auto app ecosystem expected to grow bigger by the end of the year.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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