What is Android Automotive? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Will it revolutionize the mobility of tomorrow? Here are some possible answers.
This article has been written by a colleague of mine, Jordane Serreau. Originally in french, I’ve translated his great work in english with his kind permission.
What is Android Automotive?
Android Automotive is a variant of the Android operating system from Google, especially adapted to the new connected car challenges. It has been presented by Google in March 2017. This platform is the result of a collaboration between Volvo, Audio, Google and Intel.
Do not confuse Android Automotive and Android Auto* (Android Auto is just a cast of some of your applications (such as Waze, Google Maps…) on your infotainment system). Here we are talking about Android directly embedded in your car system.
The main purpose of Android Automotive is, as for the smartphones and tablets, to propose a common base for the operating system, which will then allow the manufacturers to customize the experience with their own ecosystem (applications, graphical charter, branding, etc.)
The project quickly found partners to be integrated in vehicles, such as Volvo and Audi (they have both actively contributed to the development) and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, who made the choice to bring to the customer a continuous experience between his smartphone and his car, but also a much better experience in-car with the direct integration of the Google services.
But, what is the real benefit for the customer? With Android Auto*, the user’s smartphone do everything, and display the information on the multimedia display. Android Automotive OS interacts directly with the hardware and the sensors of the car, and allows to control the heating/ventilation/air conditioning system for example. This way, the data of your smartphone will be synchronized with your vehicle over the cloud, and you will be able to find automatically your own addresses, your usual routes, your contacts, your music, and every other information you usual have in your pocket.
What will change with Android Automotive?
Apple users, be reassured, Android Automotive will still support Apple CarPlay*, and you will have at least a minimal experience.
Moreover, Android Automotive is opened to the developers to create independent applications. At first (during 2020), the online store in the car will be opened to multimedia applications only (such as Spotify, Deezer, connected radio, etc.) but it will be extended over time to messaging apps and navigation apps, such as Waze. Let’s hope that Google will open it in the future to companies and editors ready to bring brand new services for your car!
The constraint of the battery and the screen size will disappear. And even without network connection, the vehicle will be able to keep his functionalities (as under a tunnel for example).
The screen behind the steering wheel will also take the advantage of the navigation tools from Google, of real time traffic information, and much more services, which is not the case with Android Auto* and CarPlay*.
A key strength is the integration of the Google services, proven in the field such as Google Maps, and its ability to propose an alternative route in case of traffic jam. The Google Assistant will allow to control the car, to send emails, but also to benefit at its best to the connected services offered by Google and the car manufacturer (for example: “OK Google, schedule the next revision with Volvo”). You will be able to dictate your messages, to manage connected devices at your home… (“OK Google, open the portal and turn on the lights”)
What about the updates? They will come over the air, as on your smartphone. Your vehicle will then be kept updated longer, and the security will be optimal.
In a market where every manufacturer has its own software solution, to come back to a standard solution while bringing a different experience depending on the brand would be more than beneficial as for the customer as for the manufacturer: with more developers on this platform will involve a larger choice of applications and it will be a major advantage in front of closed solutions from competitors.
Should I be scared?
What about my personal data? Google explains that the company will only collect information which belongs to its own automotive services, in order to improve them in the future. Some manufacturers have called upon dedicated experts. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance will handle the data itself in its own cloud.
Google also aims to use this data to feed the autonomous driving research conducted by its subsidiary Waymo*. It is also for the US giant to become an essential partner in the development of smart cities, these cities that use data to optimize traffic flows, energy use and security, with a permanent communication between vehicles, infrastructure and other users.
- Pourquoi Android Automotive est l’allié incontournable des voitures connectées de demain, by Jordane Serreau
- Avec Waymo, Google veut passer la seconde sur les voitures autonomes, by Grégory Rozières
- Google Assistant désormais intégré dans Android Auto, by David Kiskovski
- Android Automotive OS hands on: Polestar 2 spills its secrets, by Chris Davies
- Android Auto, l’interface de la Polestar 2 a enfin été dévoilé, by Stéphane Ficca