Google To Extend Android Push Into The Car

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

The next frontier for Android operating system could see it fully embedded in the humble motor car

Google has plans to deepen its Android push into the motoring industry, with plans for a version of Android to be built directly in cars.

This would remove the need for a smartphone for example, and signals Google’s desire to broaden its current Android Auto software.

Embedded System

Google has had its eye on the automotive sector for a while now.

In June it introduced the Android Auto project, its bid to get the Linux-based mobile OS inside our cars. Android Auto enables users to access certain functions of their smartphone through the car dashboard – things like music, navigation and messaging. It is expected to compete with Apple’s CarPlay, a similar platform for iPhone owners.

Connected Car (c) Rashevskyi Viacheslav, Shutterstock 2014Prior to that in January this year Google announced its Open Auto Alliance (OAA) project, which aims to bring its Android operating system to motor vehicles. That alliance aims to introduce closer integration between the world of in-car and mobile technology, and it has already enlisted several major car manufacturers, including Audi, GM, Honda, and Hyundai.

Those approaches require that the car driver brings his or her smartphone into the car and connects it into the car’s core system. But now according to Reuters, Google is looking to develop a version of Android that will be built directly into cars themselves.

According to two sources, who declined to be identified because they were not authorised to discuss the plans publicly, Google plans to have a version of Android ready for cars when it rolls out the next version of its operating system, dubbed Android M, in a year or so.

“With embedded it’s always on, always there,” said one of the sources, referring to the built-in version of Android Auto. “You don’t have to depend on your phone being there and on.”

“It provides a much stronger foothold for Google to really be part of the vehicle rather than being an add-on,” Thilo Koslowski, VP and Automotive Practice Leader of Gartner was also quoted as saying.

So essentially Google wants to Android to become the core system running a car’s entertainment and navigation options. This is becoming an increasingly important option for car makers.

Ford for example recently dropped Windows Embedded Automotive OS for its Sync factory-installed, integrated in-vehicle communications and entertainment system. It was reportedly unhappy at its performance and instead opted to use BlackBerry’s QNX software.

Tough Challenge?

By creating a version of Android that will challenge QNX and other systems, Google hopes to tap into the potentially data rich automotive sector.

It would mean that Google power’s the core services of the car such as Google Maps for navigation etc. And it would allow Google to gather valuable user data, as most people still tend to use a car as their main source of transportation.

The challenge for Google will be to convince car makers that Android has the stability, security, and functionality, and will always be instantly available when required.

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