Report: Google wants to build Android Auto directly into cars

If you want to buy a car that gets all of its entertainment, navigation and other data directly from Google, you may have your wish in the next year or two. Citing sources familiar with Google’s plans, Reuters reported that Google will build Android Auto software directly into vehicles with Android M, the next major version of Google’s mobile software.

Photo by Janko Roettgers/Gigaom

The idea is that instead of using a smartphone and its connection for in-car services, the car itself would connect directly to the web using [company]Google[/company]’s software. That’s certainly a feasible scenario as we’re now starting to see cars with integrated LTE and Wi-Fi radios; next month’s Consumer Electronics Show is sure to highlight these. That connection would use Android Auto software to power the in-dash experience.

But technically feasible is one thing: Implementing this strategy will be a challenge.

Essentially, Android Auto would lock out any other software company from power cars. That means [company]Apple[/company]’s CarPlay — which uses a connected iPhone to power the in-dash experience — wouldn’t likely be an option. That may not sit well with some consumers, particularly those who prefer iOS over Android. It’s possible that Android Auto could interface with iOS devices, but I doubt Google really wants that to happen.

What about getting software updates to cars and trucks that use Android Auto? Sure, there’s a connection to make that happen but historically, mobile software updates have been a challenge for Google. Part of that is because of carriers, which may or may not have say over Android Auto updates. Even without carriers in the equation, consumers won’t be very tolerant of issues if they can’t tune into their favorite streaming service or have navigation issues due to a bug.


Google Maps in Android Auto (photo: Janko Roettgers)

I can see why Google wants to own the flow of data in and out of cars; it’s the next connected device as more things are attached to the web and it would provide the company additional information about people. It’s a logical step.[/caption]

I’m not sure consumers will be on board though. And more importantly, Google will have to get support from car-makers who may not want to limit their vehicles to using software that customers might not want.