30
Dec
aa

We all know about Google's experimental self-driving cars, but according to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Mountain View is partnering up with Audi to tackle the entertainment aspect of the automobile first. The companies are expected to announce a new Android-based in-car entertainment system at CES in January to combat Apple's already tight relationship with auto manufacturers.

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Google hopes to establish Android as a core element of future cars to provide music, navigation, apps, and Google voice search. Chip maker Nvidia may also be in on the deal to provide a hardware platform for the system. Apple has traditionally seen greater support in the auto industry, with some vehicles even coming equipped with (now obsolete) Apple dock connectors.

Audi might serve as a good test bed for the Android in-car system, but Google is going to need domestic auto makers on board before anyone is going to take note. The action gets underway in Las Vegas on January 7th, but there's no telling when (or if) Google will make this partnership official.

[WSJ]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • sourabh sekhar

    As phone maker samsung doesnt even provide proper updates to their phones.Now imagine if AUDI were to update android on their cars.

    • Rene Andersen

      Audi very rarely updates their current system, so why would it be any different just because they switch to Android ?
      They do update the rest of the software on the car, when there is a need for it. I think they will do the same with the entertainment system. Some parts of the system could even be managed by Google. So i don't really see any problems.

    • KingofPing

      It wouldn't need an update unless there were bugs with the initial software.

      There's software in your car already. When was the last time you upgraded it?

      • sourabh sekhar

        It would need a software update to add more features maybe? Like when Bluetooth 5.0 will come out

        • KingofPing

          Newp.

          Buy a new car. Same as it's always been. Like I said above: Most cars already have quite a bit of software that almost *never* gets updated after it leaves the factory.

          I do not expect this to change any time soon.

          What I would really like to see more of though, are tablet/phone 'docks' that connect your device to the vehicle's OBD, allowing the screens to double (or take over) as speed/mpg/info displays and hand off the ability to control HVAC/entertainment/etc).

          Why this isn't already a thing is beyond me...

          • Robert Alex Kibler

            There's nothing stopping you from using a bluetooth OBDII plug to double as a display. However, I don't think the HVAC/infotainment can be controlled via OBD so we'd need a more direct connection.

            Although, if carmakers allow any old device to connect to the ECU and control things, they're just asking for someone to write malware that could seriously mess up your car.

          • KingofPing

            Heh...beat ya to it. Already have Kiwi adapter (BT) and Torque app.

            :)

            Yeah, they will need to figure out something for the other stuff. BT probably won't work (security), but who knows...but it really should already be a thing, you know?

          • enoch861

            With VAG cars its possible to control literally everything in the car over the OBDII port. Problem is, you need a VAG-COM (pretty expensive) or a BT adapter that supports VAG specific functions (of which none do).
            This Android thing, though, will be interesting. Since on Audi's literally everything is controlled through MMI; if they're planning on replacing MMI with Android, imagine the possibilies...

          • Matt

            I've already updated the software in my ford and I've only had it a year. I think it's going to be something more common going forward.

          • KingofPing

            please tell me you're not basing your opinion on one update from one model from one manufacturer...

          • Freak4Dell

            The biggest issue with not updating car software right now is that navigation maps don't get updated without heavy cost. The rest of it is usually so simplistic that it works fine from the very beginning and doesn't really need any changes. Sometimes if there's a bug, they'll do an update, but usually it stays the same. Since mapping can be based on the internet with an Android system, we'll be able to get updates on the fly, which is going to be a huge deal.

          • KingofPing

            Update maps in your garage over WiFi. Sure. I can see that. Kind of like taking the GOPS unit into your home and plugging it into your PC via USB to update it.

            People are talking more about the OS and apps more-so than "data" updates.

            I don't see them ever updating the OS. I'm pretty sure it'll come with pre-installed apps and will not be "connected" to the play store or anything like that...which would negate the need of keeping it updated. less cost/work for the manufacturers.

          • Freak4Dell

            I don't know if I see it not being connected to Play somehow. Google doesn't actually care that people are using Android for the sake of people using Android. They care because they want access to the information. If it's not integrated with Play Services, Google doesn't really get this information. If it was just going to be an AOSP build with home-brew apps from Audi, I don't see Google being involved at all. I think it will be somehow connected to the Play ecosystem. Whether that will be totally free reign for Google like the Nexus program, I don't know.

          • Robert Alex Kibler

            I wouldn't be too surprised if it had a modified play store, just because Google's working hand in hand with the manufacturers. It's not just like the manufacturers are putting android in their cars; they're working with google to do it.

        • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

          But Bluetooth is more a hardware technology than a software one...

      • Johnny Bravo

        how about a new and improved maps gui or a new music app. While there is software in our cars, they have little to no updates with significant impact.

        • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

          Your points aren't as solid as you'd like them to be; both examples can be easily amended by using an app store (which I'm sure will probably happen considering the software is Android) or side-loading applications. This is Android after all, so there must be some form of connecting to the hardware.

          Admittedly, if these things were set to have updates at all, the proper procedures to update them would have taken place prior to deployment.

          Edit: Seemed to have been sidetracked and lost myself on which site I was talking about for this debate.

          • Johnny Bravo

            alright. even though we are ASSUMING it will have an app store (but probably unlikely or limited, due to the hazards of playing games while driving)
            How about security updates. are they going to have an app for that too. When cars become more computerized like this, there will be more and more people hacking for malicious reasons.

          • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

            An OTA update system shouldn't be out of the question, considering this is Android. I'm not sure if AOSP has an OTA updater included (I think I remember reading somewhere that it doesn't), but the most likely scenario is that these cars will be internet connected and have software updates applied like any other Android device.

            As for the app storestore, I have to agree that it will be very limited. The initial offering of stock apps will most likely be neutered as well, considering it's illegal to be having any form of video playing while driving in some states. Although, I remember that there was a car which used a special display that disabled the screen from the driver's perspective, so it'll be interesting to see how Audi does theirs.

          • Johnny Bravo

            the thing im worried about is the internet speed. the tesla for instance is great, you can do some web browsing and all,huge 17" screen, but it has 3g

          • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

            Well, for all we know there could be some other partnership with ATT for 4G connectivity, as they've done this before. I doubt Audi will include WiFI in the car though, as that's pretty much just selling a nicely wrapped wardriving package, unless they lower the range.

          • Johnny Bravo

            for those of us that play ingress, that would be amazing

        • KingofPing

          ...and you see this changing with Android?

      • End Term Limits

        Have you ever owned a cell phone?, better yet, have you ever owned anything with software in it? Like a laptop?

        • sourabh sekhar

          No i haven't -_______-

    • Andrew

      Don't worry, they won't. I have a 2011 A4 which they hardware supports Bluetooth streaming and they promised an update to enable it. They later said they wouldn't. It wasn't until 2012.5 model that they added it. Despite no change to the hardware we 2011/2012 owners are SOL. I made a hacked way to get it, but its less than optimal. My wife's 2010 Tiguan had Bluetooth streaming and my Audi doesnt (officially).

      • godutch

        Tune2air from viseeo sort of works, if you have an ami or dension, you can stream, control back and forward but still no track info

        • Andrew

          My solution was to hack an ipod cable (chinese ebay one, not the expensive Audi official one), attach a bluetooth ipod connector streaming device (i bought 2, one for my alarm clock and one for my car) and a resistor to make the car think a 3.5mm cable is connected instead of the ipod cable. total cost was between $20-30 and its decent. I do wish I could control items from the car though instead of having to control everything from the phone because its dangerous.

          • godutch

            A hacked iphone cable is only possible with mmi 3g systems, not a 2g like mine, and then you only have aux input which as you say will not allow you to control the music, tune2air will with a regular cable even and maybe maybe a firmware update will be brought out for the tune2air which will add support for avrcp 1.3 for android...

    • Ricardo Neves

      As long as we can update the apps (Google Search, Play Music, Navigation, etc), it will be fine.

  • Paul

    I think it is utterly ridiculous that manufacturers would tie themselves to a particular OS. The effect could be that apple is merc for instance, and Android is Audi!
    Its a good thing that Android are developing - but the munifacturer needs to make these optional across all OS's. However theres then the issue with the second hand market! If you have an android device buit an apple OS in your car, does this mean you won't get the best from it? I hope apple/android dont start singular contracts with certain manufacturers!

    • sd

      No car manufacturer will want to pay for software. Unnecessary expenditure as far as they're concerned.

    • hariprasanth

      I dont think it would work that way. The OS on the car will be of a choice and the car manufacturers will charge a premium for it seperately. This way the consumer gets what he wants and the manufacturers gets more money.

      • Nathan Borup

        Apple would never just give their software to be put in a car... Apple would make and sell their own car first.

        • hariprasanth

          Well not necessarily just software.. chances are that Apple would make the hardware that goes with the software for tighter integration. But Apple IMHO doesn't have the expertise to get in the Automobile business.

          • Nathan Borup

            Apple never plays well with others. They would never team up and put themselves out there like that.

          • hariprasanth

            If they don't then they will be loosing out on a big market. And they are adapting as per market's requirements like iPad mini, iPhone 5c etc. So chances are they will join the bandwagon sooner than later, if not then they are just foolish.

          • Nathan Borup

            "if not then they are just foolish" ... it is apple :)

          • hipster

            "But Apple IMHO doesn't have the expertise to get in the Automobile business."

            I heard similar in 2010, 2007 and 2001 as well. Seniors will tell you same about 1984. Carry on...

          • hariprasanth

            I know history , but it is still a bit far fetched IMO for Apple to enter in the Automobile industry, that too to the extent where we might have iCar's in the future. Previous occasions it was Apple's domain (i.e. software industry). But making cars ? I am still not convinced..Apple has become the company that is satisfied with the amount of money that it makes with the device sales and it doesn't do no moon shot projects like space mining, Self Driving cars etc. I know Apple likes to run a tight ship when it comes to what it works on but come on really ?

        • Gabernasher

          You sure they wouldn't just sue the car makers since they invented the 4 wheeled vehicle powered by an ICE?

          • Nathan Borup

            lol... so true :P

    • Kidney_Thief

      This is just one example, but Microsoft made the Sync system for Ford and both my Nexus 5 and my iPod work flawlessly with it.

  • Ryan Stewart

    Good to see androids influence going but what I really want to see is remote interface/display tech, not ANOTHER device in my car. Right now I use my phone for 100% of the audio interface in my car (GPS, Phone, Music, etc) but dont have access to the display. If the phone could also display GPS on the car screen then I would be golden. Also integrate more and more interfaces, button controls, Google Now/Search, etc.

    • Brian Menius

      In-car infotainment architecture should absolutely serve as a dumb pipe for one's phone. While this is probably a step in the right direction, it's not where we need to be.

    • Paul

      agree. Allow us to integrate to use our own sat nav choices and music capability in the phone.
      Always wondered why car makers develop their own sat nav which is immediately out of date. Some sort of arrangement with garmin or tom tom would be better as homebrew sat navs are crap anyway

      • Ryan Stewart

        They do it because most car buyers are still ignorant of the capabilities of their iphones/"droids" and its something the car maker can upsell. Why build in a cheap interface and be a "dumb pipe" as Brian said when you can charge someone $3000 for a redundant infotainment system?

        Its not going to happen until consumers wise up and stop buying the option, which will take ages if it ever happens.

        • Mat

          Well, built in sat nav also allows you to have a large screen built into the dash to display the map on, something you can't really get unless you want to duct tape a tablet to your dash.

          Now, if I could have the address of something on my phone and NFC tap it to my android car dash, or send via bluetooth the same way I play my music through my car, I would be very happy with that.

          • Ryan Stewart

            "If the phone could also display GPS on the car screen then I would be golden. Also integrate more and more interfaces, button controls, Google Now/Search, etc."

    • Ambroos

      Never heard of MirrorLink? Newer cars have it as an option and it's been integrated into Xperia's for a while now.

    • KingofPing

      Not sure why this doesn't have more upvotes. This is exactly where we should be heading...

  • nvillaco

    I'm on my second Audi, both have been bought pre-owned with all the cash up front cause I hate leases and monthly payments. With my love of android, now I'm gonna have to lease or finance just to get the latest and greatest. The thought of rooting my car is just too much for me.

    • rmeden

      That's what they're trying to do. Get you to buy new not used. Would you buy a 5YO Audi? What about a 5YO Android device?

  • SimonPieman

    This will rattle down (and up) the entire VAG chain, so Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, Škoda and Volkswagen are also likely to benefit, whilst not initially, eventually.

    • Thomas’

      Yeah, stuff gets passed down from Audi to VW (or sometimes developed the same time or the other way around), to SEAT and finally Skoda.

      • SimonPieman

        Seat is at the bottom, Skoda is the brand below VW.

    • enoch861

      It'll probably come last to Bugatti and Lamborghini since those guys could care less about OS their car running. They just want to drive.

  • MJ

    Place Android phone or tablet in dash mount, sync with Bluetooth and done. User has more control and no added cost to the car. I realize this may run afoul with the local laws in some cases (which is a scam).

    • Freak4Dell

      It's against the law in some places, and doesn't look anywhere near as nice as a built-in system. Not to mention that a lot of cars still don't have bluetooth.

  • http://www.androidrootz.com/ Anuj Patel

    I hope they keep it between just Google and Audi...keep Samsung out of it!

    • http://twitter.com/anishbhalerao Anish Bhalerao

      If they bring in Samsung; like SView, the car will become "SAudi". Wouldn't that be great? A petroleum-rich car! Fuel problems solved.

  • Stiggy

    I love the idea of a better in car infotainment system but I don't know if throwing android at it is the best solution. I remember reading that apple had some sort of in car idea built into ios7. It looked like an elegant solution but that was months ago now and I haven't heard anything since. I think Ford was the closest to getting it right by having a tech company do the tech part but they dropped the ball by picking Microsoft. Every Ford Touch system has been filled with bugs and instability. At least with google you can expect it to work properly most of the time. I remember Audi talking a year or two ago about teaming up with Nvidia to integrate tegra into cars. Sounds like Audi is way ahead for the lucky few that can actually afford them, while ford has a lock for the common folk.

  • Adrian

    Dont purchase a new car you wont get next updates. :D

  • Kevin Kohrman

    My brother has a 2014 Audi A7 and it has the Google Maps for Navigation, Its amazing.

  • http://www.pixeom.com/ Karishma N

    This sounds pretty cool. It stinks I just got a Lexus. If I had known about this coming out soon, I would have waited.

  • Bazar6

    This is great news, to see a car OEM looking at open-source software... I absolutely despise Microsoft's SYNC in my '11 Ford Fusion. If it wasn't so tied in to everything in my car, I would rip it out and rig up a Nexus 7 in to the dash.

  • rmeden

    DO NOT WANT!!

    Do you want a 5 year old car? How about a 5 year old Android device?

    Car maker's (and for that matter, TV maker's) update history make cell phone companies look good. Car navigation updates cost hundreds of dollars!

    If they wanted to do it right, they'll come up with a standard monitor/button/sensor/antenna interface and allow an easily updated cheap standard Android device. Unfortunately, they would rather have expensive vendor-lockin for updates or have you buy a new car..

    • ari_free

      That's why people lease...

      • rmeden

        You prove my point (that no one will want a 5YO car). What do you think will happen to lease costs when the residual value of the car drops?

  • Inderpreet Kang

    My Audi will be more awesome with integrated Google music & maps...