Android Auto is on a roll this year. Merely six months ago, the Play Store app listing hit 100 million downloads, and already the app has now crashed through the half-billion barrier. Of course, most phones ship with the app pre-installed these days, easily inflating those numbers. Still, it’s a milestone for Google’s smart in-car infotainment system.

If somehow you’re unfamiliar, the Android Auto app is the required companion to connect your phone to your Android Auto-compatible head unit, and you don’t even need a head unit to use it. With a mount, you can use the app in standalone mode on your phone. Google eventually planned to deprecate that in favor of a new Assistant driving mode, but that never happened, and at this point, we don’t know if it will.

According to a leak last year, the terms of Google’s GMS agreement (read: the agreement which dictates which Google apps phone manufacturers have to install) require that all phones which launch with or upgrade to Android 10 include a “headless” instance of Android Auto pre-installed. We can’t be sure, but we have to assume that this is inflating the download count on the Play Store — the timing is too perfect for it with Android 10 also rolling out widely in the last six months.

Android Auto might be a bit buggy sometimes, and this recent explosion in downloads probably isn’t tied to a correspondingly huge increase in platform use, but Google has cause to celebrate. Next up: one billion downloads.

Android Auto - Google Maps, Media & Messaging
Android Auto - Google Maps, Media & Messaging