Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) long-rumored car interface, Android Auto, is now official, the company announced at its I/O conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.
Similar to Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) CarPlay, announced in March, Android Auto aims to provide Android integration from mobile devices to automobiles.
In response to studies showing that 25 percent of accidents in the U.S. are caused by people using mobile devices behind the wheel, Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance in January, an initiative aimed at making the connected car a reality.
According to Patrick Brady, director of engineering for Android, the average U.S. commuter spends over one hour a day traveling by car.
“Our cars keep us connected to the physical world around us, but they remain disconnected from our other devices in our digital lives,” he said.
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Android Auto focuses on the three most important aspects for drivers on the go -- navigation, communication and music -- and presents these apps for easy selection. Additionally, Android Auto is contextually aware to ensure the features provide drivers with accurate information. It is also completely voice-enabled for optimal safety on the road.
Connecting an Android device to a compatible vehicle through a USB projects the Android Auto interface to the car’s screen. Once connected, drivers can use standard car controls such as steering wheel buttons, console dials and touch screens to operating Android Auto.
The feature looks and feels like part of the car, but the visible apps are actually running on the phone, Brady explains. This means the experience improves as users update apps or get a newer, faster phone. Android Auto also provides a personalized experience that can be brought to any compatible car.
Google also announced the Android Auto SDK for developers to create apps specifically for the car. The company says its Open Automotive Alliance now has 40 new partners, including 25 car brands. Vehicles enabled with Android Auto are expected to hit the market in late 2014.