Tech giant wants its software to control everything from infotainment to air-conditioning
20 May 2016

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.

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.

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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Comments
12

20 May 2016
..drivers won't have time left to drive. Oh...

20 May 2016
Kind of reminds me of the max power era with the PlayStation in the boot. Do people really spend that much time in their cars to warrant this. I'm a truck driver and there's no mention of this crap being brought into the artics. I think the people like us that enjoy just the drive are a dying breed. Would be interesting to see this as an option, see how many people take this on v's traditional stereo & sat nav.

20 May 2016
smokescreen38 wrote:

Kind of reminds me of the max power era with the PlayStation in the boot. Do people really spend that much time in their cars to warrant this.

I spend 2 hours per day in my car - minimum. I use maps every day and music through my phone every day, making use of the car's Bluetooth. The likes of android auto and CarPlay take that a step further and integrate it better, putting the majority of manufacturers' own systems to shame. So yes, it is warranted. And I would say far more useful and far less tacky than that late 90s idea of having a PlayStation in the boot. What an odd comparison.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

21 May 2016
I spend 24 hrs a day for 5 to 6 days in my truck. I have it already on my phone or laptop. Yes I can pipe my music via the stereo through my phone. Truck has built in twat nav. I get Google earth on the phone. Maps via the phone or old school paper ones. Just seems rather unnecessary to me. Thats why I compared it to the PlayStation in the boot. More cost to the customer when they already have it on their phone/tablet. Oh no sorry I want silly amounts of adjustment on the a/c and sport settings etc. Things have gotten stupid.

20 May 2016
Reminds me of the old sketch where Microsoft software is integrated into the car. "You have requested Airbag deployment. Are you sure. Y/N?"

20 May 2016
Car prices still creep up, it looks like manufacturers are adding value with all the gizmos but electronics have never been cheaper, literally pennies. Its a con, it makes the manufacturers bigger margins whilst they scrimp on stuff that costs like sophisticated suspension and properly balanced engines, well designed seats, sound proofing and thick underlay - stuff that makes the actual A to B stuff better, a nicer, quieter, smoother more comfortable drive. Not 50 different ways of twiddling the aircon or changing station. I have driven a variety of vehicles in the last 12 months that were really disappointing that manufacturers still think they can churn out this stuff and get away with it.

20 May 2016
The Apprentice wrote:

Car prices still creep up, it looks like manufacturers are adding value with all the gizmos but electronics have never been cheaper, literally pennies. Its a con, it makes the manufacturers bigger margins whilst they scrimp on stuff that costs like sophisticated suspension and properly balanced engines, well designed seats, sound proofing and thick underlay - stuff that makes the actual A to B stuff better, a nicer, quieter, smoother more comfortable drive. Not 50 different ways of twiddling the aircon or changing station. I have driven a variety of vehicles in the last 12 months that were really disappointing that manufacturers still think they can churn out this stuff and get away with it.

This is the whole point of why Google are doing it. None of this is a con - good user interface should be seen as being AS important as comfy seats and good refinement. The manufacturer systems (with the exception maybe of VAG) are showing exactly how it shouldn't be done, because user interface design is apparently not where their expertise lie. For Google and Apple, it very much is.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

21 May 2016
How many accidents will be caused by drivers attempting to activate their air-conditioning or seat heaters using their phones..? Just a quick reminder to Google, Apple etc...it is illegal to operate a hand-held device whilst driving. What possible advantage is this over extending your arm out and operating the appropriate dashboard mounted button or switch? I already see enough vehicles on the M1 every day, ricocheting left and right between the white lines as the driver wrestles with his electronic cigarette in one hand and smartphone in the other, without this crap.

21 May 2016
I've got android auto. It's safer than most as the phone screen is disabled when it connects. All systems are controlled via a simplified touchscreen interface on the car head unit, not the phone. Any complex stuff, such as seeking music or nav is done via voice. Thankfully voice control works well via Google compared to car manufacturer attempts!

 

 

 

21 May 2016
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.....

BertoniBertone

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