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Google Unveils Updated Version of Android Auto Developed Together with Qualcomm

Posted July 20, 2016 5:40 AM by Jordan Perch

Cars are the latest arena that gives tech giants Google and Apple the opportunity to compete against each other, presenting yet another front where the two Silicon Valley powerhouses can try to establish digital supremacy. More specifically, the new battleground for the two companies is the in-car infotainment business, as both of them race to take over car dashboards with their own operating systems, replacing automakers' in-built dashboard systems.

At the moment, Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay seem to have an equally significant presence in the in-vehicle infotainment system market, but the search engine giant hopes to change that and gain an edge over its largest rival. Google has teamed up with another technology powerhouse to develop an updated version of its existing system that would aim to become a standard infotainment solution for the entire auto industry.

Next-Generation Android Auto

At an event during Google's I/O annual software developer conference, the company has unveiled a new Android in-car system concept, that it developed together with wireless technology giant Qualcomm. The next-generation Android Auto – which is internally known as Android N at the moment – was showcased using a Maserati Ghibli, replacing the car maker's stock infotainment system and controlling all in-vehicle functions.

The Maserati Ghibli that Google rolled out has an embedded Android N, featuring a 15-inch touchscreen mounted where a typical center console would sit, along with a digital instrument display that replaces the traditional instrument cluster, powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820A chip.

This latest version of Google's in-car infotainment solution gives drivers and passengers access to various systems, including navigation, multimedia, and climate. The large touchscreen that is in place of the center console, looking a lot like the Tesla Model S solution, supports voice commands, as well, in order to reduce driver distraction. It allows the driver to play music, make phone calls, ask for directions to a desired destination, or adjust the temperature within the cabin, without taking their hands off the steering wheel, or taking their eyes off the road.

What's more, this Android Auto concept lets you lock and unlock the car's doors, and control the car windows, which no other infotainment system can do at moment.

Beneficial to Automakers

For Google, the development of advanced in-vehicle tech solutions is just one part of the efforts to increase in-car connectivity, as it continues to work towards developing a fully-autonomous car, in a bid to improve road safety and the overall in-car experience.

But automakers, themselves, can benefit from Google's infotainment systems, as well. By using an infotainment system developed by a third party, car makers will save a lot of money and time, since the development of such systems can be pretty costly and time-consuming. Also, automakers are not as well-versed in developing these types of software solutions as Google, or any other leading tech company, for that matter, and customer satisfaction with most of the infotainment systems offered by automakers at the moment is pretty low.

However, this Android N system is only a concept for now, and Google has yet to confirm whether it will offer a commercial version of it in the near future. In any case, it has given industry observers a great insight into how future in-vehicle infotainment solutions will look like, and will certainly make Google's biggest competitor Apple to ramp up its efforts for establishing a greater presence in cars.


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