January 6, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Google Beats Apple to the Car

google_android_carSo far, CES 2014 has not disappointed in terms of big news.

Apple notoriously declines to attend CES, and now Google has gone and announced a significant partnerships with four major automakers and a chipmaker to put Android in millions or maybe hundreds of millions of car dashboards. Audi, Honda, Hyundai, and GM will put Android into their cars as result of the deal.

Music fans who buy those cars are going to be excited about their new listening options, with major implications:

  • Music services and internet radio services will have a great new way to tap into FM and satellite listening (especially in the paid area, if a year of the service is bundled with a car, or the in-car version requires a premium account).
  • Drivers with iPhones won’t be able to connect them to these cars the way Android people will be able to.
  • The range of functionality for music apps in the car should increase significantly.

On Monday morning, Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance with those manufacturers plus Nvidia, which will make the chips. According to that site, this will be “a global partnership” that will ” help drive innovation, and make technology in the car safer and more intuitive for everyone.” General Motors cars will connect their Android dashboards to the net with OnStar 4G LTE, but so far, no major telecoms have joined the alliance to provide connectivity.

This is not the first time direct-internet-connected music apps have been embedded directly into car dashboards. In December, rara and BMW announced the first such cars in Europe.

However, this first-ever use of Android in the dash (which comes later — the first step appears to be integration with an Android phone) should make it a lot easier for more developers to port their stuff onto the platform, and increase drivers’s listening options significantly.

Once the same Android device is handling location, communication, music, video, navigation, safety, and other features — and it also happens to be wired to the car’s sensors themselves —  and the dashboard has direct access to tens of millions of songs — the possibilities for developing insane music apps that take all of those factors into account become fairly limitless: “Life in the Fast Lane” for when you’re speeding by too high a margin, “Crosstown Traffic” for that, not to mention the ability to Like and Share everything with your steering wheel… but only if app developers have robust access to a great API for hooking into the car, and consumers are able to put whatever Android apps they want onto these cars, which would seem likely.

The Open Automotive Alliance FAQ says, “We welcome those in the automotive and technology space who are committed to bringing the best of mobile into the automobile in safe and seamless ways,” which sounds like just about any real Android developer can join. “With one platform that developers are already familiar with to target (rather than a patchwork of platforms from different automakers),” continues the FAQ, “developers will be able to focus on delivering a powerful experience for users.”

Audi, GM, Google, Honda, Hyundai, and Nvidia say the first Android cars will go on sale by the end of the 2014.

(Image courtesy of the Open Automotive Alliance)

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  • iamcorrect

    How has Google Beaten Apple to the car? The above article is pure rubbish. Here is the what really is going on.

    Google today announced the formation of the Open Automotive Alliance, a coalition of automakers working to adapt the Android OS for in-car connectivity. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a variation of the Open Handset Alliance, which Google formed in 2007 alongside a more than a dozen other tech companies to develop open standards for mobile devices, which led to Android’s eventual dominance of the mobile OS market.

    The similarities go further than that. The Open Handset Alliance was established in early November 2007, about 11 months after Steve Jobs famously introduced the first iPhone at the Macworld Convention in January 2007. Similarly, the announcement of the Open Automotive Alliance comes roughly eight months after Apple announced that it was working with a handful of auto manufacturers on an initiative currently known as “iOS In The Car.” It seems once again Android is making its move, at least officially, months after Apple, and has set the stage for another showdown in a massive, untapped market.

    In the Open Automotive Alliance, Android counts Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and NVIDIA as allies. Apple, meanwhile, claims about 20 car manufacturers have shown interest in the iOS In The Car program, including all three of the manufacturers that make up the Open Automotive Alliance.

    Having gotten the early start, Apple’s initiative already has some momentum. Select Honda and Acura models already offer Siri Eyes Free integration, which uses the cars’ voice-command capabilities to access iPhone apps. Honda has also released two iOS apps aimed at bridging the gap between the smartphone and its cars’ touchscreen consoles.

    Apple has been working this space for almost a year longer than Google and has an ACTUAL product in cars today. Heck even in a GM product today!