At the Google I/O conference being held currently in Mountain View, California, the search giant has revealed that it intends to make Android the operating system of choice for all entertainment and functional features in automobiles, whereby everything from the AM/FM radio to the automatic climate control, as well as the digital instrument clusters would be run by the world’s most popular mobile operating platform. Towards that end, the company demoed a Maserati Ghibli featuring a 15-inch display panel and a 720p HD digital instrument cluster, all of which are powered by Qualcomm’s latest top-of-the-line chipset, the Snapdragon 820. From navigation to the AC and everything in between on the concept vehicle is run by Android N, which was detailed earlier today at Google I/O.
According to Mr. Patrick Brady, lead engineer on Android Auto, “Android wasn’t historically built to be an embedded infotainment platform. It was really built for phones”. However, Android N is bringing forth features that Mr. Brady believes will be able to hasten the convergence of automobiles and computer networks by turning a regular vehicle into a smart, connected one by imparting it most of the features of today’s high-powered smartphones and tablets. The platform will also support all major functional and entertainment features in a car. As expected, the platform will be open source, allowing automakers to customize the interface and features the way they want to, much like smartphone OEMs have their own custom UIs on top of vanilla Android.
What’s really interesting, however, is that automobile companies will even be able to use Apple’s CarPlay instead of Android Auto on top of the underlying Android operating system. Meanwhile, in a related move, Google also announced that it will soon offer Android Auto as a standalone app on the Play Store. Once implemented in the right earnest, that will allow all cars – irrespective of whether or not they had Android Auto in the first place – to get a similar experience by just mounting an Android smartphone on the dash. Google seems to be really betting big on its latest gambit, and according to Mr. Brady, “We think the improved user experience we’re offering with Android Auto on your smartphone screen is going to be significant, and we have very high ambitions for how many users will adopt it”.