Waymo has a job vacancy for an ‘Android TV Partner Marketing Manager,’ according to a new job listing posted on LinkedIn. It is currently unclear if this is a mistake, but if it is not then it would suggest that there is some behind-the-scenes movements to bring Android TV to self-driving cars in the future. Waymo does not currently list this job on its own website and the job listing itself is very light on details and does not make any specific reference to self-driving cars. Instead, the listing focuses much more on the Android TV side of the role including responsibilities such as “manage the marketing relationship with Android TV’s partners.” In fact, Google does list on its own site an identical job vacancy with an identical job description. So it could very much be the case this is simply an error in the job vacancy listing on LinkedIn. Alternatively, it could also be the case the LinkedIn job vacancy (which links through to a listing on the job recruitment site, Experteer) could be revealing more of the true nature of the job vacancy, while the Google listing is more purposely vague due to no previous announcements on making Android TV available in self-driving cars.
While the mistake scenario is the much more likely option, it does offer up the point for discussion, as the idea might not be as crazy as it first sounds. In a world where cars are becoming more connected, it could easily be a possibility that the market moves to a place where the likes of Android TV becomes integrated in vehicles at some point. Yes, on first impressions Android Auto would more likely be the best fit for a car - considering it is already in cars and Google’s go-to solution for ‘Android in the car.’ But, Android Auto is more of a driver-focused product, and one which looks to specifically cater to a hands-free and ‘eyes on the road’ type of experience. Which is what self-driving cars -- in an ideal world -- is looking to change. Therefore, if self-driving cars were to become commonplace, and reliable to the point to where drivers no longer need to keep such a keen eye on the road, then maybe a more relaxed and user-friendly interface for the car could be used - like Android TV, for example.
Probably even more pertinent in the short-term, is all those seats outside of the driver’s seat. There are already a number of vehicles on the road which come with screens on the back of the front seats for rear-seated passengers to make use of. And more recently manufacturers have been looking to bolster that experience with the use of a more-connected and integrated ecosystem and interface. So if this sort of connected and TV user experience was to be ported over to a self-driving car, then it might make sense that the likes of Android TV would be used as the basis of that interface. In theory, and presumably in Alphabet and Google's ideal world, a self-driving car from Waymo would come with Android Auto as the main infotainment unit and additional screens throughout the car powered by Android TV. This in turn -- again in theory -- not only opens the door to a car having the ability to offer more of a viewer-focused experience on screens in front of the user, but technically, it could also result in a more customized and individual experience. For example, if Android TV was in use, and especially if screens could be accessed individually, this could open the door for back seat riders to cast to the Android TV screen in front of them as well, providing those in the car with the option of watching their own content on their own screen, or collectively through the one master feed.
With the onset of 5G, and the idea that everything will be connected, and especially when assuming vehicles like self-driving cars are expected to specifically benefit from 5G and ‘edge’-based technology (by constantly connecting to a nearby signal), it would make sense for companies like Waymo to at the very least be exploring the idea of how the rider experience will be in the future, in a driver-less car that is as connected to the internet as homes are today. Of course, this is all currently and very firmly in the realm of speculation at the moment as there is no suggestion this is the direction companies like Alphabet, Waymo, and car-makers are going. Though, it would make some sense when all the pieces -- autonomous cars, everything connected, 5G, the rise of streaming -- are viewed as a whole.