Google and Automakers Bring Android to Cars With New Alliance | Edmunds

Google and Automakers Bring Android to Cars With New Alliance


Just the Facts:
  • Google and several automakers have formed the Open Automotive Alliance, dedicated to integrating automotive technology with Android-based mobile devices.
  • Initial members of the Open Automotive Alliance include Audi, GM, Honda and Hyundai, as well as tech company Nvidia.
  • The Alliance says to expect to see the first cars with Android integration by the end of 2014.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — Google, along with tech company Nvidia, has joined forces with Audi, GM, Honda and Hyundai to form the Open Automotive Alliance, dedicated to integrating automotive technology with Android-based mobile devices.

The Alliance says to expect to see the first cars with Android integration by the end of 2014.

The goal, according to Google, is to enable drivers to download apps, sync devices and control many in-car systems — infotainment, navigation, and more — using smartphones, tablets and other Android-based devices. The result should make auto technology not only more user friendly, but safer as well, since drivers would no longer need to look at their phones to engage various functions.

"Millions of people are already familiar with Android and use it every day," said Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome & Apps at Google, in a statement. "The expansion of the Android platform into automotive will allow our industry partners to more easily integrate mobile technology into cars and offer drivers a familiar, seamless experience so they can focus on the road."

The idea of integrating mobile technology with auto systems is not new, of course. As previously reported by Edmunds, Apple worked with several manufacturers to incorporate its iOS 7 operating system into vehicles. Ford partnered with Microsoft on its MyFord Touch communication and entertainment system. And Intel teamed up with several automakers to form the GENIVI Alliance, an attempt to create a Linux-based software standard for the auto industry.

While these attempts at car-device integration have achieved varying degrees of success, at the present time, app developers are forced to come up with different versions for each system and each car. The hope of the Open Automotive Alliance is to capitalize on the Android system's dominance in the market and make it the industry standard.

The advantages for the constituent companies are clear: Tech firms like Google and NVIDIA would gain access to the huge automotive market, and automakers would benefit from the latest hardware and software advances.

But achieving this kind of standardization, and the resulting market dominance, is not a simple matter. Apple continues to be a major player, and various proprietary systems, like Ford's, are still in the picture.

Ultimately, when it comes to syncing up handheld devices with automotive technology, consumers will determine what standard — if any — is adopted.

A major theme of the 2014 International CES, being held this week in Las Vegas, is the "connected car," and several auto executives are scheduled to give keynote addresses. The Open Automotive Alliance is sure to be a topic of discussion.

Edmunds says: Car shoppers, who rely more and more on smartphones and tablets, will surely appreciate this kind of increase in convenience and safety.

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