Google is working on an Android version that would be built into cars, enabling drivers to use the internet without the need for plugging in smartphones, as is the case with its current Android Auto software, sources have told Reuters.
Thilo Koslowski, vice president and automotive practice leader at Gartner, did not know about Google’s plans but said they would provide “a much stronger foothold for Google to really be part of the vehicle rather than being an add-on.”
While vehicles with Android Auto are set to debut in 2015, Google has not commented on the new capabilities, although sources say they could be rolled out with the next version of Android in a year or so.
It is possible that Android becomes the standard system for ‘connected car’ entertainment and navigation features like music and apps, if Google is successful. It would also give the company access to data that could be useful for advertisers, such as gas usage, speed and location.
However, one of Google’s hurdles may be convincing car manufacturers to integrate its services into their vehicles.
According to Mark Boyadjis, an analyst at IHS Automotive, “Automakers want to keep their brand appeal and keep their differentiation.”
Google will have to improve its performance and stability, one of the sources said, if it wants to persuade car companies, including ensuring the software powers up instantly when the car is turned on, rather than take time like smartphones do.
Google has signed on several manufacturers for its Open Automotive Alliance and its Android Auto product, such as Nissan and Hyundai. Apple introduced its rival software CarPlay in March. Both have the capability of projecting smartphone apps onto car screens.