Putting the brakes on CarPlay

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.

14 Responses to “Report: Google wants to build Android Auto directly into cars”

  1. Why would any automaker give up its cars control system to Google?

    Google Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and this system mentioned are all just virtual machine environments which run on top of Blackberry QNX based telematics systems which hold a 70%+ market share in the automotive head end market. Blackberry QNX is a realtime OS with true multi-tasking support something none of the OS’s mentioned above will every feature.

    Blackberry’s QNX OS has owned the car head end system for 15+ years but you would never know that from reading any journalists articles. GM’s OnStar program since day one in 1995 has run on QNX.


    • To answer the first question, Google could subsidize the OS, which puts money in the carmakers pocket. I’m not saying the auto industry should embrace Android Auto; just pointing out one reason it might.

      Second, we don’t know how Android Auto would be implemented. While it’s true that QNX is the most used platform today; it’s possible that Android Auto replaces it, not runs in a VM on top of it.

      In regards to QNX not getting mentioned even though it does power most of the auto systems: Android is based on Linux; we really don’t mention that either when discussing Android. People don’t see QNX in their cars.

  2. Sami Cooper

    Actually I feel Google has the edge over what’s coming and what’s been before. Google does search and does it very well. Their navigation is intelligent and accurate and full of businesses, services and entertainment. Google Now is the best assistant and the best at voice search, closely followed by Microsoft’s Cortana. Android also has the largest mobile market share and should be the logical choice for car manufacturers over Apple’s Car Play. Also Android has a better chance of being “open” and “non-propriatray” than Apple’s offering.

  3. Joe Belkin

    Google Android is the new WIN 98 that MS tried to get into cars way back when and auto makers were smart enough to avoid. Recently Ford saw what happened when they turned to MS for sync – their ratings plummented. Can you imagine a Google car with google software – it’ll work fine for 2 minutes but anything deeper will bork it and or you wait 7 months for an upgrade that borks the car to wait another 2 months to fix the first thing. Google is an AD SEARCH COMPANY that thinks they can just spend 5-minutes and get into any other line of technology. They have FAILED in EVERY consumer venture they have attempted that requires consumers to spend money – they lost $10 BILLION in 2 years with Moto and the first act after buying NEST? RECALLING EVERY MONOXIDE DETECTOR. Google is brilliant in AD SEARCH MONETIZATION but designing an OS? Bwahahaha. Just look at their portal “more” page design OR when Apple doesn’t show them the way – FAIL (see Google Glasses) or Android watches. BTW, Google self driving cars – does not work when it’s raining. That’s the extent of Google’s “technology.”

  4. Everyone in Google’s world will obviously want Android Auto and everyone in Apples world will want an Apple system. Auto companies need to insist that both systems are modular plug and play. When buying a new car you simply choose between Google or an Apple system. Let just please everyone, right?

    • That’s a simple view, but it’s not a cut & dry situation: Many people use both iOS and Android, depending on the device.

      Besides, do you really want to choose a car based on the mobile OS it runs? What if you like the platform now but later want to switch – a car isn’t upgraded every 18 months like a phone. I’d rather not be “locked in” to any one single platform and I currently use multiple ones on a daily basis.

      • I believe new car buyer, no matter what make or model, should be able to order a new car with an option for an Android Auto or an Apple Car Play system.

        The most interesting part of Google’s approach is the idea that you will not need a phone for everything to work seamlessly through the system and cloud. One could simply load the apps they want to use in their car and be on their way.

        I would have to believe Apple will have to eventually take the same “no phone needed” approach. After all safety is paramount on the highways.

        Even today I’m surprised how often I am using voice commands and search on my phone. It’s like all the time.

        • And perhaps that will happen; that gets into the implementation challenges I noted in the post. Will car makers want to offer an option and add more complexity to the production line? Or will dealers have the ability to flash the OS of choice? It’s not going to be easy.

          • I’m now thinking the factories will incorporate hardware that both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay can both use. And the dealers will be able to add Google’s or Apple’s plug and play modules that consumers ask for. In this scenario customers could switch systems down the road so to speak. Today many options can be added at the dealership, why not OSes. Oh, and by the way, please add a Sirius XM module too my order too…..

    • Sami Cooper

      The same useless assistant and crap maps/navigation system that’s in Apple phones will be in cars… I’m sure Apple’s offering will work flawlessly but it’ll also be average compared to the proprietary car manufacturer offerings from Volvo, Audi, etc.