Google is joining forces with auto manufactures from Audi to General Motors to bring its open-source Android platform to car dashboards and streamline driving for tech-savvy customers, the search engine giant announced Monday the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
“Today, millions of people already bring Android phones and tablets into their cars, but it’s not yet a driving-optimized experience,” Patrick Brady, Director of Android Engineering, wrote on the official Android blog. Drivers are already wired: they use a huge Rolodex of mobile apps, from sat navs to music players, as they navigate the roads. Some car manufacturers already support Android connectively, although platforms differ widely between vehicles. With these partnerships, Google is hoping to seamlessly integrate Android into dashboards, allowing drivers to access Android-powered apps safely and easily through their car’s built-in controls and displays and to sync all their platforms–phone, tablet, computer, and car.
To accelerate connected car innovation and foster these links between Android apps and vehicles, Google will be launching an Open Automative Alliance, similar to the Open Handset Alliance the company founded in 2007 to promote Android as the standard operating system for device makers. The Handset Alliance made Android the largest open-source platform and the most popular smartphone OS in the world. Now, Google wants to sync the system’s 700,000 apps more fully to its users’ vehicles and make Android go-to platform for connected cars. Google is taking aim at Apple, which has already launched an “iOS in the Car” programme with BMW, Daimler, and Mercedes, and Microsoft, which has equipped cars from Fiat, Ford, Kia, and Nissan with Windows systems.
An Android-powered computer on the dashboard would allow drivers to access apps, music, and email from their smartphone using in-car controls. The system will likely come with voice recognition software, to enable safer, hands-free control, and bespoke sat nav.
“Putting Android in the car will bring drivers apps and services they already know and love, while enabling automakers to more easily deliver cutting-edge technology to their customers. And it will create new opportunities for developers to extend the variety and depth of the Android app ecosystem in new, exciting and safe ways,” Brady wrote.
The first Android-integrated cars, from manufacturers including Honda, Hyundai, Audi, and General Motors, are expected to roll off the line at the end of the year.