Google has joined forces with General Motors, Audi, Hyundai, Honda, and tech company NVIDIA (known for graphics cards and smartphone chipsets) to form the Open Automotive Alliance. The stated goal of this collaboration is bring Android to the automobile.
Many of us use our phones in our cars, but for the most part they operate as stand-alone devices providing such diverse functionality as music players, turn-by-turn GPS direction-providers, and even as a dash cams. However, the connectivity to our cars is fairly limited and for many people it begins and ends with a Bluetooth connection for streaming high-quality audio to their stereos, or for taking phone calls via a built-in microphone and the car stereo.
Although the alliance doesn’t outline any specific goals, one can image its something similar to what Ford has already done with their Sync technology. What Ford provides with Sync is probably similar to what this alliance has in mind, but they are being deliberately vague in their recent January 6th press release. They say:
Audi, GM, Google, Honda, Hyundai and NVIDIA have joined together to form the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA), a global alliance of technology and auto industry leaders committed to bringing the Android platform to cars starting in 2014. The OAA is dedicated to a common platform that will drive innovation, and make technology in the car safer and more intuitive for everyone.
The OAA is aimed at accelerating auto innovation with an approach that offers openness, customization and scale, key tenets that have already made Android a familiar part of millions of people’s lives. This open development model and common platform will allow automakers to more easily bring cutting-edge technology to their drivers, and create new opportunities for developers to deliver powerful experiences for drivers and passengers in a safe and scalable way.
It’s hard to tell if they plan to put an Android operating system IN THE CAR, which would allow it to run...
apps designed specifically for the automobile to control unspecified aspects (perhaps climate control settings for example), or if they are referring to an API that an Android phone can access over a Bluetooth connection.
The press release goes on to say:
“Through the OAA, our customers using Android devices will soon be able to enjoy the continuous user experience in their Hyundai and Kia vehicles.” said Dr. Woong-Chul Yang, Vice Chairman of R&D, Hyundai Motor Group. “By introducing the latest IT technologies safely and securely throughout our full range of vehicles, we continually strive to provide the highest levels of convenience and enhance the in-vehicle experience.”
Once again they have failed to provide any concrete idea of what they have in mind, or what aspects of the car will be placed under the control of the Android operating system, or how the driver would interact with the system.
There may be many facets to this alliance that might result in both aspects becoming a reality in the next year or so. A version of Android running in the car with or without its own internet connectivity could independently run apps to provide the driver with information and control using a built-in display (the same one you’d use now for your in-dash navigation system). They might also provide a way for an Android phone to communicate with the onboard O/S to allow the phone’s user to interact with the car remotely.
The creation of the alliance is a step in the right direction, but until their next press release we don’t honestly know what they have in mind. However, it seems that Ford has the jump on them, in that they’ve already implemented something that MIGHT be similar. If you go on Google Play and type “ford sync” as a search term you’ll find that there are many apps available that work with the Ford system. However, there doesn’t seem to be any game-changers in the lot of them.