Google, Automakers to Bring Android to Cars

Starting 2021, Android fans will be able to have Google’s mobile operating system in their cars. Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL) Google is teaming up with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance (RNMA), the world’s biggest auto group that jointly sells more cars than any other carmaker collective, to develop the dedicated operating system that will control the car’s entertainment and GPS systems, according to the leading technology news and media portal The Verge. The operating system will allow users to download automobile-specific apps through Android’s Play Store, and will be assisted by Google Maps for navigational requirements and by Google Assistant for voice commands.

Free Android Systems See High User Adoption

With technology giants racing to provide self-driving technology for vehicles, and some even building their own driverless smart cars, they have often been perceived as competitors by traditional automakers. Auto companies have traditionally used their own proprietary in-car infotainment systems. However, limited technical expertise and certain challenges in offering the desired features to the users have lead to partnerships with technology firms. Additionally, drivers are observed to use their Android- (or iOS-) powered smartphones both for entertainment and navigational needs, which indicates the strong penetration such technology and their associated systems already enjoy among the masses. (See also, Self-Driving Cars Could Change The Auto Industry.)

Google’s move into powering car systems has been bolstered by accompanying apps like Android Auto - a mobile app-based smart driving companion available on the Android platform. Powered by a simplified interface, large buttons, and responsive voice commands, it has emerged as a useful system that overrides native infotainment systems to reduce distractions. Earlier this year, Google and Swedish auto giant Volvo jointly showcased a 2020 auto model that runs on Android Auto. RNMA has announced it will put Android Auto in all of its supported vehicles, which means by 2022 Android Auto could be in millions of cars across the United States, according to Android Authority. Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) CarPlay is a competitor to Android Auto. (See also, Google Overhauling Android OS to Lure iPhone Users.)

During the first half of this year, the auto group has sold around 5.54 million cars globally. The annual figure for last year stands at around 10.6 million cars. The alliance projects it will sell more than 14 million cars in 2022. With Android and its accompanying apps free to use, Google will secure users' permission to collect and analyze data through its apps and systems – a practice that has helped it build troves of data that it capitalizes upon. (See also, How Does Google Maps Make Money?)

“In the future, the Google Assistant, which employs Google’s leading AI technology, can become the main way customers interact with their vehicles, hands-free,” Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi’s Global VP of connected vehicles Kal Mos said in a statement.

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