Playing media

This section describes how playback works for media apps.

Users can control media playback from either of the following:

  • Playback view (full screen, full set of controls)
  • Minimized control bar (minimal controls, available across views)

Playback view

To begin playback, a user selects a playable item in the content space, such as an album or song, and the playback view takes over the entire content space. The playback view displays metadata and playback controls for the selected content. Users can control playback using these controls and also with gestures.

Playback controls

Playback controls are displayed in the control bar, which can be expanded if there are more than 5 controls (see “Playback control locations,” below). If the app implements a queue, the app header includes an affordance to access the queue.

The playback view appears when the user selects playable content.
When there are more than 5 controls, users can expand the control bar and access the additional controls by using the overflow button (bottom right)

Playback control locations

To ensure consistent usage across media services, the bottom row of controls (or the only row, if the control bar is unexpanded) should present the controls in the order shown below. The top row, which appears only when the control bar is expanded, is reserved for up to 5 custom actions.

If an app doesn’t use Previous or Next buttons, these buttons may also be replaced with custom actions.

Controls in the bottom row should appear in the order shown in the example above and the table below.
Position Button
Far left Custom action
Left of center Previous or custom action
Center Play / Pause
Right of center Next or custom action
Far right Overflow affordance (if there are more than 5 controls) or custom action


In addition to using the controls in Playback view, users can use a gesture to minimize the view.

Swiping down from anywhere in the view is one way users can collapse the playback view into the minimized control bar

Minimized control bar

If the user leaves the playback view while content is still playing, the control bar available in the playback view collapses into the minimized control bar, which provides information about the currently playing content, plus basic controls such as Play and Pause. The minimized control bar allows the user to browse available media while the current song or other content continues playing.

The minimized control bar is a simplified version of the control bar that remains available after the user leaves the playback view.
Users can swipe downward (as shown in Gestures, above) or tap on the down arrow in the upper left corner (as shown here) to minimize the playback view.


If a media app implements a queue, the playback view’s app header includes a queue affordance. Selecting the affordance displays a scrollable, chronologically ordered list of currently playing and upcoming content. Some media apps may also display previously played content in the queue.

The queue shows upcoming and currently playing content

At a minimum, the queue displays a title for each queued item. App developers can also provide a thumbnail for each. In addition, they can provide an icon to indicate the currently playing item, which can also be indicated by showing the elapsed time for that item. However, car makers can choose whether to show or hide any of these items: the thumbnail, the icon, or the elapsed time.

Users can scroll the list and select any item in the queue to play it immediately in the playback view. To return to the playback view without selecting an item to play, users can select either the queue or back affordance.