Android Auto is not even properly parked yet, or its successor is already back on the driveway. In this article, we’ll talk about Android Automotive, Google’s new platform for on the go.
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Android Automotive is a full-fledged automotive operating system. The system really runs on the car itself, instead of a smartphone. Automotive can best be seen as a modified version of Android especially for cars. They look similar, but they are by no means identical.
Automotive does have important Android functions. For example, you can talk to the Google Assistant, navigate with Google Maps or Waze and turn on a song via Spotify. Android Automotive works on the basis of touchscreen: you tap the ‘tablet’ on your dashboard to, for example, adjust the volume and turn on the air conditioning or seat heating. Of course you can also use the Google Assistant for this.
Android Automotive is the successor to Android Auto. The system is built into (electric) cars: a telephone is not required. The system can not only display and control apps on your dashboard, but also works, for example, on screens in the headrest for passengers.
Because Automotive is fully integrated in the car, all kinds of car sensors are also linked. For example, the system can suggest a charging station nearby when your battery is almost empty. You can also ask the Google Assistant what your range is, which is handy. In addition, when planning a trip, Google Maps automatically takes the remaining range of your car into account and suggests charging stations during the trip based on this.
Android Auto, on the other hand, is a lot less comprehensive. This modified version of the operating system on your phone is safer on the go and gives you access to simplified versions of Google Maps and, for example, Spotify. However, you need to plug in your phone first, while Android Automotive is baked into cars.
Automotive has its own Play Store for downloading apps. Speaking of which: the app range is still disappointing. This is partly due to the fact that many developers have not yet prepared their programs.
Google sets all kinds of requirements for apps on the go. For example, the program must be suitable for larger (tablet) screens and fit into the quiet, non-distracting interface of the system. Android Automotive is incidentally open-source, just like the ‘regular’ Android on your phone. The source code, which explains exactly how it works, of the system can therefore be viewed by everyone.
Not much. In fact, Android Automotive is really still in the starting blocks. The most popular model is the Polestar 2. This 100 percent electric car is also jokingly referred to as the ‘Google car’. The 5-door fastback has a price tag of around 60,000 euros.
Volvo’s XC40 has also baked into Android Automotive. This plug-in hybrid starts at 44,000 euros. So there is not much on offer at the moment. The plans are there. Renault, Nissan and General Motors, among others, have announced that they will be working with Android Automotive in the coming years.
The biggest competitor to Automotive (and Android Auto) is probably Apple CarPlay. However, Apple’s on-the-go system isn’t integrated in the car in the same way, so you need an iPhone to run the system. So comparing Android Automotive and Apple CarPlay to the yardstick is actually like comparing apples with pears.
For now, Google’s on-the-go system has other competitors, such as VW OS. This system is being developed by car manufacturer Volkswagen and it is planned that all its cars will be equipped with VW OS from 2025. The manufacturer sees little benefit in Android Automotive, because according to them, Google is running off with the car data.
Volkswagen is a gigantic concern and has brands such as Audi, Seat, Skoda and Porsche under it. Remarkably enough, VW OS is based on the open source version of Android, but then strongly adapted.
Don’t forget Tesla. Elon Musk’s car company is known for its electric cars that run on its own software. In fact, you cannot use Android Auto / Automotive or Apple CarPlay on a Tesla. Tesla does not seem to be open to cooperation, but the future will show which company will win the ‘smart car’ competition.
This month stands Android Planet all about Android Auto. We dive into the (im) possibilities of Google’s ‘car software’, downloading Android Auto, list the best apps and compare Android Auto with the main competitors.
What do you want to read more about this month? Leave your suggestions in the comments below this article and who knows, you might see your contribution in an article soon. Also read other stories from this monthly theme via the links below: