Automakers Still Unsure About Android Auto Due To Alexa, 5G

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Vehicle manufacturers are still skeptical about Android Auto, BusinessKorea reported Monday, citing industry sources who attempted to explain the slow adoption rates of not just Google's platform but also Apple's Carplay, both of which were described as facing similar obstacles that aren't directly related to their rivalry. Amazon's artificial intelligence assistant Alexa is now widely seen by automakers as an unexpected third contender in the race for winning the control of contemporary head units, with its partnership with Ford giving it a major boost last year and one that may have made many industry players reluctant to commit resources to more technologically challenging implementations of its alternatives.

While Android Auto and Carplay must be integrated at a deep hardware level, requiring manufacturers to change their center console coding, Alexa is capable of communicating with any such platform without major investments, making it by far the easiest choice for automakers seeking to adopt a new connected car platform. Despite being relatively straightforward to implement, Alexa allows for a wide variety of functionalities, being able to start a compatible vehicle and control its heating system when told to do so, among other things. A number of partnerships with companies such as Starbucks also provided Amazon with some selling points that are easy to understand and advertise yet aren't offered by rivaling services, industry watchers claim. Despite the fact that Alexa's footprint in the connected car market still cannot compare to that boasted by Google and Apple, the entire package received enough traction to slow down adoption rates of its alternatives and make vehicle manufacturers reconsider their plans in the field.

The industry is also said to be skeptical about Google and Apple's ability to quickly embrace 5G connectivity with their vehicle ecosystems, especially as the next generation of mobile networks is likely to lead to significantly different designs of head units. In the same vein, many are considering following Tesla's example by implementing head units with large display panels into their future vehicles while being unconvinced about the usability of Google and Apple's solutions in conjunction with so much screen real estate, insiders claim. Tesla's offerings rely on displays with 12 to 17-inch diagonals which are largely unprecedented in the context of Android Auto implementations. Besides high testing costs of both platforms that dwarf any such expenses associated with Amazon's Alexa, automakers are also understood to be unhappy about Google and Apple's insistence to lead the segment and provide a wide variety of services through their head unit systems, many of which they intend to eventually start offering themselves.

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