Google Inc. has plans to offer much more than smartphone connectivity with its upcoming in-car infotainment system. Android Auto will act as a basis for an upcoming version of Google’s operating system made especially for cars that would allow occupants to use the Internet without connecting to their smartphones, according to a new report.
Google Inc. has partnered with a number of automakers to bring Android Auto to new car models, the first of which are set to debut next month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. While Android Auto requires a smartphone to connect to a compatible car, a new version of the operating system, dubbed Android M, could eventually allow access to Google Maps, streaming music and other apps independently, according to a Reuters report.
Google’s Android M could be a major step up from Android Auto sometime in 2015 or 2016, anonymous sources told the news agency. Android Auto will have to compete against the iPhone’s popularity as Apple Inc. introduces CarPlay, a similar platform to expand iPhones onto touchscreens built into vehicles.
While the iPhone’s popularity could impede Android Auto in the short run, an independent system could help Google leverage its more popular mapping technology to potentially dominate the market by offering a full-featured car system that works for iPhone and Android alike.
Android M could also allow Google to collect even more valuable data about consumers, including GPS location, where they stop, shop, travel and buy gas. However, Google will face a number of challenges to convince manufacturers to implement Android M.
In-car infotainment features could raise safety concerns, which would make automakers reluctant to hand the reins completely to Google. Android Auto would also need to turn on more quickly than most Google-powered smartphones, analysts told Reuters.
Both Apple and Google have signed up a number of manufacturers for their respective automotive efforts, as they race to expand beyond smartphones to smart watches, car entertainment consoles and elsewhere.