Google has shared with the developers its plans to expand the scope and application of Android Auto way beyond its present avatar. This is also one of the outcomes of the Developers Conference I/O 2017.
In fact, the very nomenclature has been changed from Android Auto to Embedded Android for Automotive. The real difference lies in the very approach to the technology. Android was basically developed as an operating system for mobile phones and some tweaks were made to adopt it to work on automobiles and it also required a device with Android in it to be present in the ecosystem. This is the major shift Google is now making. Embedded Android for Automotive will be built into the vehicleâ€™s original ecosystem for which Google made an announcement at the I/O 2017 that Volvo and Audi have already agreed to enter into a partnership with the company to further this technology in their vehicles.
To put this development in perspective, one has to go back and understand the scenario with Android Auto. The technology was launched three years back and it required the vehicle owner to download the app and sync it with the infotainment system already available in the vehicle and make use of it for navigation as well as in the areas of communications and listening to music and so on. And some 300 odd models of cars around the world have signed up for this facility, but the hard truth is just about a million downloads of the app. This is a small number when compared to the millions of devices being operated on Android out there.
Under the new regime, the use Embedded Android for Automotive will take it much beyond the current use of the technology and the user can integrate Google Maps and do a lot of things, including the use of Google Assistant. All this while, there will be no need for the presence of an Android device.
Importantly, this will enable the developers to create many dedicated apps built around this technology and it will be ultimately a win-win situation for all stakeholders; the car makers, the users and for Google itself.
Interestingly there are reports that Microsoft is getting out of this particular space and that has spurred Google on to move faster and capture the niche market.
Google had displayed a car retrofitted with this new technology to demonstrate to those who attended the conference the capabilities of Embedded Android for Automotive. The car, (Google did not involve the original car maker in this) had a special 15-inch touchscreen with 4K display and the instrument cluster. It was demonstrated how Android virtually ran everything in the car; from the speedometer to the air conditioning to, of course, navigation.
The future for this technology and Googleâ€™s success will largely depend on how the auto makers respond to this development and how much they feel the credit for their customerâ€™s unique experience with what they claim to be proprietary in their models could be weaned away by Google and Android.
Some quarters have expressed fears over the security of the cars if this Embedded Android is built into the vehicles. As with the OS for the mobiles, where it is an open platform and individual users of the OS build their own versions around it to suit their phones, it is going to be same case for automobiles also and hereâ€™s where the security fears lie.
But overall, it is an interesting development and car users can look forward to some exciting times with Embedded Android for Automotive as and when it becomes a reality.