At the International CES technology show in Las Vegas this week, the companies announced the formation of the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA), an organisation committed to bringing the Android platform to vehicles and accelerating the development of the fully connected car.
The OAA is dedicated to a common, open technological platform. It says this will encourage the development of high-quality and innovative in-car apps, as well as making technology in the car safer and more intuitive for everyone to use. It should also enable in-car tech to be updated more frequently during a vehicle’s lifetime.
Working on one platform that they are already familiar with, rather than a patchwork of platforms from different car makers, will make the developers’ job much easier.
It is a similar approach to that which has fuelled Google-owned Android’s rise to become the most widely used smartphone operating platform in the world.
“Partnering with Google and the OAA on an ecosystem that spans across vehicles and handheld mobile devices furthers our mission to bring vehicles into our car owners' digital lives and their digital lives into their vehicles,” said Mary Chan, president of General Motors’ Global Connected Consumer unit.
The first cars with Android integration are expected to appear by the end of 2014. The OAA has invited other car manufacturers and automotive technology companies to join the alliance. Several manufacturers – Hyundai and Honda among them – are also working on keeping their cars compatable with Apple's iOS operating system too.
Other companies are working on Android compatability outside of the OAA. Having already installed the Android operating system in its AMG models, Mercedes-Benz will next month release the Android version of its DriveStyle app.
Speaking at CES, Thomas Weber, Mercedes-Benz’s research and development boss, said: “Our philosophy is to support all devices and their operating systems, not to put all of our eggs into one basket. Flexibility is key.”