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Android’s Interface for the Car Gets Early Look in New Rumors

May 26, 2014 - Written By Ray Greer

The Open Automotive Alliance(OAA) was formed at CES 2014 and brought together by Google and Nvidia. Together, Google and Nvidia joined forces with Audi, Honda, Hyundai, and GM with the sole purpose of bringing Android to cars. After announcing the Alliance, the members and the purpose they haven’t said much else. However now, we are getting a bit more information from how it may look, to the codename being used internally-Gearhead.

Cars have been using computer systems for some time now, and Google wants to tap into that aspect. Nvidia’s President and CEO said  the automobile is “the ultimate mobile computer.” That being said, putting Android in the car is by no means trying to make a futuristic vehicle. There is no hover capabilities or self driving aspects just yet to this movement. Instead it is essentially a stepping stone and will be exactly what it sounds like-Android in your vehicle. According to Android Police, they have a source that leaked certain aspects that led to a better idea of what we might see from the project.

The alliance will be focusing on what users will need while driving rather than too many bells and whistles. Voice commands are obviously going to be a main focus as well as music, navigation and hands free calling and texting. Though not many details have been given about any specific feature, the leak does provide a better picture of the interface we may see. For instance, the overall interface seems to be a lot like Google Now and other Google services. So much like when you are in Play Music on your smartphone, there is that translucent navigation bar at the bottom. When Android is introduced to the vehicle, the display will be similar to that, except bigger, bolder icons for easier access while driving. Though since operating a device while driving is not recommended, a lot of the functions can be handled by simply saying “OK Google…” then whatever you need done. So to make a phone call simply say “OK Google, call…”

In order to get the car to make a call, surely your Android device will need to be connected via Bluetooth. Your device will make the call after you’ve given the command, but will play over your car’s speakers. There will also be an option to open a dialer on the display just in case you need to dial a number instead of call a saved contact. The call feature is straight out of “Google Now” and in that same spirit, so is the messaging capabilities. If you receive a message, you can opt to have it read to you then respond via voice. Much like on our Android devices, we will see a blue icon when Google is talking, and red when it is our turn to respond. So the usual line of questioning will be done in order to send the message. That includes you starting it off with, “OK Google text[Contact Name][message]” Then Google will respond, but this is where it will be a bit different. On our smartphones, we get the message shown to us first before being asked to send it. While in the car, we will not be shown the message, but instead the message will be read to us first before we are asked to send the message. This is for obvious safety reasons, since driving while texting is a big danger to you and everyone on the road with you.

Making everything voice controlled Google can help reduce the risk of using their services while in the car. This could mean a hot button located somewhere on the steering wheel or just an “always listening” mode to be available. This risk reduction can also be seen in the on screen buttons that are huge and bold. Though while having Google now is a great thing in the car, there should be more interaction with the actual car involved.

On the navigation bar at the bottom of the display, you will see a little car to the far right. This little car will undoubtedly be able to give information about your car such as tire pressure, fluid levels, and anything else a car can warn you about. Though what information is actually included here will be determined by the manufacturer of the car. So that information has not been made very clear, another aspect that is unclear is third party apps.

Based off the images, there is no app drawer, which begs the question where will our apps go? It is more than likely that apps like Spotify, or Tunein Radio will be available, just not sure when. These apps would also need to have a complete makeover to better fit into the UI of the system. Larger icons, and bolder buttons, plus voice commands would be greatly appreciated in this instance. Which is just one of many questions that have yet to be answered.

We have a good idea thanks to Google Now and how the “OK Google” service works how it will be implemented into the car. Though nothing has been made official just yet, and these ideas could easily change. Another big factor will be manufacturers and how they plan to implement Android into their cars. There has not been an official launch date just yet, but as more news comes in, we will keep you updated.