Google has announced Android Auto in June this year at the Google I/O conference. To put it shortly, Android Auto allow Android smartphones and tablets to be operated in automobiles through the dashboard’s head unit, offeing drivers control over GPS navigation, music playback, SMS, telephony, and web search. Both touchscreen and button-controlled head unit displays are supported and hands-free operation through voice commands is also possible.
But now a fresh report from Reuters suggest the next version of Android (at the moment dubbed M – marmelade?) won’t just integrate with vehicle infotainment systems, but it will actually be the main kernel of the whole shebang. Android M it said to arrive in “the next year or so”, with a special version of the OS being designed specifically for installation into vehicles. If this report is anything to go by, then perhaps we could see this happen at the next Google I/O conference.
The current Android Auto version requires a smartphone to be plugged into a compatible car with a built-in screen to access streaming music, maps and other apps, but this is said to change once Android M gets released. Speaking of this possibility, Thilo Koslowski from industry research firm Gartner has shared an interesting and valid point of view:
It provides a much stronger foothold for Google to really be part of the vehicle rather than being an add-on
At the moment, native in-car control systems predominately run on the Blackberry QNX based OS, but it seems that Google could be trying to challenge them. But Apple too has made advancements in this field with CarPlay, which works pretty much in the same way AndroidAuto does.
However, besides technical and business challenges, Google will also have to convince automakers to integrate its services into their vehicles. Also, while the number of internet-connected vehicles is increasing, it still doesn’t represent a majority of the market.
Another reason why Google could be interested in doing this is to somehow tie the data it gets on car components with its advertising business model and this could be a little tricky. Will car makers allow Google to stick in its tentacles and to get access to GPS location and detailed driver behavior, such as its whereabouts, where he travels and at what gas stations does he stop? I guess it all depends on how well Google builds its product and what are they trying to achieve with it.