06
Jan
android car

Cramming mobile technology and other goodies into automobiles is a recurring theme at CES 2014, and even Google is getting in on the action. The web giant is normally pretty quiet at the industry's biggest hardware trade show, but today it officially launches the Open Automotive Alliance, a collaborative association aimed at bringing Android to your car. Google and NVIDIA have already partnered with some of the biggest car companies in the world, encompassing the American, European, and Asian markets: General Motors, Honda, Audi, and Hyundai.

audi-google-large

An existing Audi model with an NVIDIA-powered navigation system displaying Google Earth.

So what exactly is the point of the Open Automotive Alliance? According to the sparse press release on the new website, the purpose of the OAA is to "[bring] the Android platform to a device that’s always been mobile: the car." Talking points for the Alliance's initial PR include openness, customization, and scale - basically the same things that have attracted Android's phone and tablet manufacturers. In-car entertainment and communication systems as well as more robust dashboard and heads-up displays would seem to be a natural fit.

Millions of people are already familiar with Android and use it everyday,” said Sundar Pichai, SVP of Android, Chrome & Apps at Google. “The expansion of the Android platform into automotive will allow our industry partners to more easily integrate mobile technology into cars and offer drivers a familiar, seamless experience so they can focus on the road.

None of the technology or automotive partners are showing off hardware at the moment, but that could very well change by the time that CES is over. The Detroit Auto Show is just three weeks away, so we might get a peek at concepts and early hardware there as well. The OAA website says that you can "expect to see the first cars with Android integration by the end of this year." NVIDIA is already talking up its Tegra platform for further inclusion in car electronics systems.

Dedicated Android users may scoff at the "Open Automotive Alliance" title - the Google-led Open Handset Alliance has become something of a laughingstock after its fantastically failed promise to update Android devices to the latest software for at least 18 months after release. But the OHA is still very much alive, and in fact it's grown to encompass dozens of phone manufacturers, mobile operators, software firms, and OEM suppliers. It just doesn't have much to say when it comes to consumer-facing functions. Perhaps it's telling that the new Open Automotive Alliance has not made any definitive statements on its initial announcement.

Source: Open Automotive Alliance - thanks, Jaime!

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.; INGOLSTADT, Germany; DETROIT, Mich.; TOKYO, Japan; SEOUL, South Korea., January 6, 2014 – Extending the success of the Android ecosystem, which has seen over one billion devices activated to date, a coalition of auto and technology companies announced today a new industry alliance aimed at bringing the Android platform to a device that’s always been mobile: the car.

Audi, GM, Google, Honda, Hyundai and NVIDIA have joined together to form the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA), a global alliance of technology and auto industry leaders committed to bringing the Android platform to cars starting in 2014. The OAA is dedicated to a common platform that will drive innovation, and make technology in the car safer and more intuitive for everyone.

The OAA is aimed at accelerating auto innovation with an approach that offers openness, customization and scale, key tenets that have already made Android a familiar part of millions of people's lives. This open development model and common platform will allow automakers to more easily bring cutting-edge technology to their drivers, and create new opportunities for developers to deliver powerful experiences for drivers and passengers in a safe and scalable way.

“The worlds of consumer and automotive technologies have never been more closely aligned, and this alliance will only pave the way for faster innovation,” said Ricky Hudi, Head of Electrics/Electronics Development at AUDI AG. “Working toward a common ecosystems benefits driver safety above all.”

“Partnering with Google and the OAA on an ecosystem that spans across vehicles and handheld mobile devices furthers our mission to bring vehicles into our owners digital lives and their digital lives into their vehicles,” said Mary Chan, President of General Motors' Global Connected Consumer unit. “We see huge opportunities for the Android platform paired with OnStar 4G LTE connectivity in future Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles.”

“Millions of people are already familiar with Android and use it everyday,” said Sundar Pichai, SVP of Android, Chrome & Apps at Google. “The expansion of the Android platform into automotive will allow our industry partners to more easily integrate mobile technology into cars and offer drivers a familiar, seamless experience so they can focus on the road.”

“We are very pleased to join this alliance with Google as a founding member because Honda is committed to providing the very best connected-car experience to our customers,” said Yoshiharu Yamamoto, president, CEO and director of Honda R&D Co., Ltd. “The Honda team is looking forward to collaborating with Google and all OAA members to help advance the safety, value and ease of use of connected-car technologies.”

“Through the OAA, our customers using Android devices will soon be able to enjoy the continuous user experience in their Hyundai and Kia vehicles.” said Dr. Woong-Chul Yang, Vice Chairman of R&D, Hyundai Motor Group. “By introducing the latest IT technologies safely and securely throughout our full range of vehicles, we continually strive to provide the highest levels of convenience and enhance the in-vehicle experience.”

“The car is the ultimate mobile computer. With onboard supercomputing chips, futuristic cars of our dreams will no longer be science fiction,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and chief executive officer, NVIDIA. “The OAA will enable the car industry to bring these amazing cars to market faster.”

OAA members share a vision for the connected car, and bringing these open standards of innovation to the market will help extend people’s mobile experience seamlessly to another platform they already know and love. Timing from each automaker will vary, but you can expect to see the first cars with Android integration by the end of this year. The OAA invites other automotive technology companies to join in this endeavor.

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • Ryan Stewart

    Just make a bomb ass interface, that is all I want. I don't want android in my Audi (I've always driven BMWs, who love being behind the tech curve or out in left field, iDrive). I just want my car to serve as a console for my already awesome and easily upgraded phone. Make an API that allows the car to "chromecast" to its built-in display, control virtually every necessary function through the controls on the dash and in the steering wheel and have HD two way audio so I can have my "Ok Google" in the car (current bluetooth is just too crappy for it).

    • Zargh

      One problem with the "Car-as-accessory" approach is that it's completely dependent on the external device, so you're out of luck if the phone/tablet runs out of battery, is damaged or is lost or stolen.

      With the "Car-as-Android-device" approach, theoretically it could do the companion role of the former in addition to providing its own functions standalone. Plus there are cool features which naturally follow on from looking at the car from this perspective: remote car diagnostics, Google Now cards optimized for the road etc

      Since the car is going to have an infotainment solution regardless, there's no harm with this being an option.

      • http://www.maverickcreative.ca/ Joshua Richards

        Of course you could just charge your device in the vehicle.

      • Ryan Stewart

        Why wouldnt I use the cars power source to prevent my phone from dying? If it can run an infotainment system it can run a phone.

        I dont buy it. I don't mind an independent radio but now that their target market all have smartphones I bet the idea would be popular. Who wants a dated GPS or clunky system designed by people who don't know how (no car system has ever been truly good).

        I dont want to have to pay $3000 for a GPS/video/media system that is vastly inferior to the $500 one already in my pocket. Also, I would have to replicate all of my content over to that new system and it would need its on radio. Again, all of that is ALREADY in my phone.

        • GraveUypo

          i agree.
          i use a stupid windshield mount for my phone, but i'd love to have a proper dock on the dashboard that would give my phone access to all the car's computers and sensors instead of the stupid factory systems that always suck.

    • shadowx360

      Ditto, I have always been jealous of Audi's Google Maps and wished my BMW would let me use that instead. Not to mention that BMW officially includes iPhone chargers in their premium tech packages but leaves Android devices out in the cold.

      • Ryan Stewart

        Were trapped man. Despite some ugly bodies, despite the tech stupidry, as long as Merc insists on making wallowing pigs and AUDI making FWD cars I'll probably always be in a BMW.

        If AUDI went RWD though, I'd be back in a heartbeat. Their styling is killing it, KILLING it.

        • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

          Get a quattro then. :P

          • Ryan Stewart

            I dont need AWD in Georgia and I would rather not have a heavier and more complicated system than I need.

  • JPB

    I like the idea, hate the console that they're showing. Make this heads up, right in the windshield.

  • Pierre Gardin

    "
    Facebook requires access to these permissions:
    Security
    trigger the air bags

    Communications
    Honk
    "

    • Erstam

      OMG haha. Thank you for the early morning LOLs!!!

    • Wifulated42

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  • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft
    • squiddy20

      That was exactly my thoughts upon reading the title. We still haven't heard a peep from that group, almost 3 years later, right?
      Of course, who knows, maybe Google learned its giant "mistake", and we'll hear more from them this time around. One can hope...

  • didibus

    They failed to take over the TV market, I wish them the best for the car market.

    • Ryan Stewart

      This one will likely fare better because its going to be something built in to a product you would have already bought and the manufacturers are in on it. Its nothing more than an extension of android and since the car makers get a base touch-enabled OS for free that they can then easily extend to their own needs is a no brainer.

      • didibus

        Ya, it does look like more hardware partners are in on it. Though, LG had embraced Google TV for a lot of their TVs, they are now moving away from it for some reason. Probably the lack of updates from google.

  • http://www.twitter.com/morenicano Morenicano

    I wonder if they'll add an "I'm Feeling Lucky" button in those cars.....

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Skynet is getting closer

  • squiddy20

    My problem with this is akin to the maps/infotainment center problems already in existence: How do you update the maps data, POIs, and anything else that needs updating on the software side? Take it into the dealership where you have to spend upwards of $100 dollars, and come back again in a few years to do it again. Updates to Android are bad enough already from the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG, etc. Are we now going to see different "skins" from GM, Honda, Audi, and Hyundai? What if a major bug is found in whatever build of Android is onboard that say, allows someone to control your car (steering, brakes, acceleration, etc)? Who would push the update (Google or car manufacturer) and how would you get it to your car?
    As a few others have already stated, the best approach (IMO), is something like the Chromecast or straight up screensharing. Give me a way to hook into the car's infotainment screen and control my media from there. Wouldn't have to even take my phone out of my pocket. And if you don't have a smartphone (though, really, who doesn't these days?) just display the "regular" or "normal" infotainment screen.

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