Currently reading: New Google Android to control more in-car features
Tech giant wants its software to control everything from infotainment to air-conditioning

Google’s next version of Android could see the tech giant’s operating system weave its way far deeper into car manufacturers’ entertainment and operating controls.

The next version of Android, provisionally called Android N, alongside the next Android Auto system, will let drivers control standard features such as sat-nav, music and Bluetooth. However, it will also be able to operate new areas of vehicle functionality, including air conditioning, heated seats, electric windows and even door locks.

New features for Android Auto will also include the 'OK Google' personal assistant service, wi-fi support and real-time navigation information.

Android can't yet control more fundamental elements of the car’s operation such as brakes or safety equipment.

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Google revealed Android Auto’s new features at its I/O 2016 conference this week. It has worked with mobile technology company Qualcomm on the joint project using a Maserati Ghibli as its test car. Maserati and Fiat Group have not been involved in the project.

Android auto temperature control

The project sees the prototype Ghibli’s own operating systems replaced with Android Auto on a large tablet style split touchscreen, similar to one used to control the Tesla Model S. The prototype Ghibli also displays Android Auto graphics on the instrument cluster directly behind the steering wheel.

While the majority of consumers may be enthusiastic about the idea of replacing vehicle manufacturers’ entertainment operating systems with the familiarity of the iOS or Android on their smartphone, it is unlikely car makers will let their own systems be totally overwritten.

However, this new development work could mean carmakers will be able to more easily integrate elements of Android into their own systems.

BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi have already joined forces to spend nearly £2bn on acquiring Nokia’s HERE navigation division, demonstrating that manufacturers remain committed to their own proprietary navigation systems despite the increasing influence of non-automotive brands such as Apple and Google.

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The Android Auto system was launched in 2014. It now has partnerships with over 40 vehicle manufacturers and is featured in over 100 models.

Google is aiming to increase the number of models that can use Android Auto to over 200 in the near future.

Tom Seymour

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topsecret456987 22 May 2016

"I can turn re-circulation on

"I can turn re-circulation on or off on"? As the owner of a mk2 MX5, what are you talking about? Recirculate what? I can change gear, turn the steering wheel and use the pedals. Has a manual handbrake positioned perfectly There is a crap radio which I leave off. The heater is awesome with 3 big dials. The roof comes dome in 5 seconds by hand, but not when moving. Lights and wipers operated by stalks. No phone so I concentrate on driving - mobile (if I remember it) unaccessible from pocket due to compact cabin. A couple of extra buttons for the lovely heated seats. Stupid electric windows which don't work with out the key in the ignition, and wind down very slowly - worse on drivers side! No sat-nav so I get lost frequently and drive more with a big smile. Job done. What more do you need, or are modern cars so boring to drive that they need toys rather than just be one?
typos1 21 May 2016

I ve got an Android stereo in

I ve got an Android stereo in my car and I ve first hand experience of a Model S, fact is some of this is good, some of it is bad, double edged sword really - voice control for instance, is a real advantage especially if it can control stuff on the car as well as media and phone, having app generally and being able to install whatever nav app you prefer, all good. Some of it isnt so good - having a massive touscreen is pointless, for a start touchscreens are not good for inputs when in a moving vehicle and when driving due to lack of tactile feedback and actual buttons to feel, its far to easy to mistype and you have to take your eyes off the road to make sure youre pressing the correct virtual button, touchscreens should be secondary input devices in cars. On the Model s you have to press 3 or 4 buttons to turn on air recirculation, on most cars its just one, I can turn recirculation on or off on my car without looking, progress ? No, fashion ? Yes.
BertoniBertone 21 May 2016

It just goes to show how much

It just goes to show how much profit there is for car manufacturers in over-charging for 'apps' that are already embedded in smartphones. BMW & Co are spending 2 Billion on Nokia's HERE ?! Pro Nav on a german premium brand still hovers around £ 2K and most of that is pure profit. Now, I can see why they are desperate to protect that revenue source !!! I hope Fiat, PSA, Hyundai (and others who have traditionally not leveraged nav pricing so greedily) will allow way better integration at much more realistic pricing.....