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Google putting Android in cars with Open Automotive Alliance

David Ludlow
8 Jan 2014
Audi Android
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Google partners with Audi, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai and Nvidia to put Android in cars

Google has partnered with a number of car manufacturers to brings its Android operating system into consumer vehicles, forming the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA). Working with Audi, General Motors, Hondo and Hyundai, Android is set to appear in cars soon.

“Millions of people are already familiar with Android and use it everyday,” said Sundar Pichai, SVP of Android, Chrome & Apps at Google. “The expansion of the Android platform into automotive will allow our industry partners to more easily integrate mobile technology into cars and offer drivers a familiar, seamless experience so they can focus on the road.”

Google's plan is that existing Android Apps can make their way into their car, letting drivers access the internet, read emails and more all from the familiar dashboard. It's also expected that navigation will feature.

Of course, with Android at the core, in-car entertainment systems will get more features, stay up to date and be capable of being upgraded and expanded to do different jobs.

For car manufacturers, using Android means that they don't have to develop proprietary in-car operating systems, which can be hugely expensive. Instead, they'll benefit from the existing community of Android users, and be able to offer their customers more apps and features than before.

Given that Android will have to be customised and tweaked to work with controls in a car, not every app is going to work well in-car. It wouldn't be a surprise, therefore, if car manufacturers all ended up with their own app stores, full of approved apps.

Of course, getting Android into cars lets Google compete with Apple, which has been pushing its iOS In the Car protocol. When implemented by a car manufacture, it allows a connected iOS device to be controlled by the in-car controls. For example, microphones could be used to activate and control Siri. The big difference with Google's approach is that Android will physically be part of the car.

Audi has already demonstrated a first car to use Android with its Mobile Smart Display. In this case the Display is an external Android tablet, powered by Nvidia Tegra 4, which hooks into the car's entertainment system. This lets passengers control media playback and even set destinations for the in-car navigation system, all without having to go anywhere near the driver or their controls. When Audi puts Android in the car, the system could get even more powerful.

The OAA has said that cars running Android are due to launch by the end of 2014.

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