More and more automakers are starting to offer direct access to third-party apps in cars by adding a piece of software that enables users to find and download apps—essentially an in-car app store just like those on mobile phones.

Volkswagen Group's in-house software development company Cariad used this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, to announce its own app store that will be rolled out to the automaker's various brands starting in July.

The first VW Group brand confirmed to receive the app store is Audi, which will be followed by Porsche and Volkswagen. Specific Audi models confirmed to receive it include the A4, A5, Q5, A6, A7, A8, Q8 E-Tron, and E-Tron GT.

Mercedes-Benz recently announced a similar feature for the redesigned 2024 E-Class that's set to go on sale later this year.

Cariad worked with automotive supplier Harman, a Samsung company, to ensure multiple third-party apps will work with the infotainment systems installed in VW Group vehicles. Specific apps mentioned by Cariad include Spotify, TikTok, Yelp, Webex, The Weather Channel, ParkWhiz, and Vivaldi, and the company said many more will be ready when the app store is rolled out.

A data link will be required to download and use the apps, which is established via an embedded SIM card.

The advantage compared to smartphone mirroring systems like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is that the apps need to meet the safety requirements of the automotive industry before being made available through the app store. The third-party developers will also be able to seamlessly update and upgrade their various apps over the air at any time.