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Google’s Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) finally unmasks ‘Android Auto’

‘Eureka’ moment for Google: Does Apple think it can steal the show?

At its Google I/O developer’s conference in San Francisco, Google  announced Android Auto that is intended to bring the Android experience to a car’s in-dash infotainment system. The much-awaited, much-rumoured and the much-talked-about trend is said to be a prominent competitor of the already revealed Apple’s CarPlay.

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Android Auto demonstration

Earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show(CES) 2014, Google announced a coalition of automotive OEMs and tech companies, namely Open Automotive Alliance (OAA). However, ever since this announcement has been made, the people at Google remained dormant for quite some time and there seem to have been a ‘less-enthusiastic’ approach from the company. Although, some rumours ( with 70% confidence level) have floated around for sometime couple of months before when the first look of the ‘somewhat similar’ in-car UI/UX standard was revealed at the Android website. It was also speculated that by the time, the so called ‘Android in the Car’ ( the assumed then name) will go REAL, it will have already seen a substantial amount of changes in terms of design and applications.

Much like CarPlay, Android Auto integrates with several different app partners to provide music and other audio, such as MLB at Bat, Pandora, Spotify, Songza, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, and more. Android Auto integrates deeply with Google Maps, providing drivers with access to all Google Maps features like local search, personalized suggestions, live traffic information, and turn-by-turn navigation.

Android Auto is contextually aware and puts the apps that users need front and center on the car’s dashboard. Google stressed that Android Auto is “completely voice enabled,” relying on Google Voice Recognition API, similar to Apple’s reliance on Siri. After connecting an Android device to a compatible vehicle through a USB, it projects the Android Auto interface to the car’s screen. Once connected, drivers can use standard car controls such as steering wheel buttons, console dials and touch screens to operating Android Auto.

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Patrick Brady-Google

According to Google, Android Auto will be available in 25 different car brands, with the first cars rolling off dealer lots before the end of the year. Google is also releasing an Android Auto SDK in the coming weeks so developers can create apps for the platform. Apple’s CarPlay is also expected to be available in several different cars before the end of the year. The company says its Open Automotive Alliance now has 40 new partners, including 25 car brands. Vehicles enabled with Android Auto are expected to hit the market in late 2014. The expansion of the OAA shows its commitment to openness, customization and scale, which have contributed to Android’s success and are designed to help drive auto innovation. The alliance also extends invitation to more tech titans to join this initiative.

Comments

Okaay..This all looks so good but as a normal user, one would be really interested in something unforeseen, something unrivalled and something which no body has ever thought of. It’s a straightforward question that is the multi-billion dollar company really concerned about sharing some load in the automotive space or is is just to give tough competition to its competitor(s). Is it just to show off and tout that “if they can, we can either”?

Tethering your smartphone with your in-dash is not something new and firms like Airbiquity, UIEvolution, Luxoft, Continental, RealVNC have already gained expertise in that. So in order to differentiate their offerings compared to their low-revenue likes, Google has to come up with something novel.

So what next can we expect in the automotive industry? I would not be surprised if tomorrow Facebook and Twitter also announce their own infotainment platform.  Check out the product launch video.

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