Android Auto is making its way onto more cars than ever as automakers shift their focus from in-house operating system development to overlaying onto Android’s OS. Part of the shift is pure pragmatism, as automakers don’t have to spend valuable dollars on development. Instead, they can put their developers to work on creating a customized overlay, also known as an HMI, to go on the top of Android Auto. This overlay reflects the automaker’s brand. Following are some of the ways that Android is poised to change how drivers interface with the technology in their cars.
Image via Flickr by pestoverde
A majority of car owners are unable to use their phones with their in-car operating systems due to a lack of compatibility. Only the most recent model cars are likely to have software that connects with phones running Android OS. Change takes time, but there will come a point where Android smartphone owners will have the ability to connect their phones to their cars and have the same functionality on both screens. No more powering the onboard apps through the phone’s Bluetooth; instead, the apps that are on the phone will also appear on the information center in the car. Functionality gets even better when using a phone like the Samsung Galaxy S7 from T-Mobile. The combination of T-Mobile’s reliable data and voice network with the Galaxy S7 promises outstanding connectivity for the ultimate driving experience.
Enabling Self-Driving Cars
It’s no secret that automakers are on a quest to create self-driving cars. Google has been leading the charge with its experimental cars now known as Waymo. Some automakers are partnering with Google to use Android Auto in their own pilot programs. These automakers prefer to partner with Google rather than develop their own software. Fewer bugs to work out translates into getting cars to potential buyers sooner than later.
Google abandoned its self-driving car division in late 2016 and has switched its focus to working with automakers instead. There is a very real possibility that consumers will see self-driving cars powered by Google Auto on the road in the near future.
Oftentimes, users have to connect their phone to their car’s infotainment system through Bluetooth. While Bluetooth connects without prompting, other apps don’t. This means the driver has to set up the phone and make sure it’s mounted in place to act as a GPS display that’s separate from the car’s infotainment system. Drivers find that they have to fumble with their phones to get them to do what they need, distracting themselves from the operation of the car. All of this goes away with the addition of Android Auto.
Instead of fumbling with the phone, drivers simply touch the corresponding app on their infotainment system and get the service they need. It becomes much less complicated to use Google Maps for GPS or transmit their personal playlist of music through the sound system. Or, you can use the car to open smart locks and walk into your home without ever pulling out the keys. No more fumbling with the keys and the lock while you’re juggling bags of groceries and trying to stay dry when it’s raining or snowing.
Connectivity With the Home
Anyone who ever wished they could communicate with their home while on the road might just see their wish come true. It may soon be possible to connect to your home via a data signal from a cell phone. Android Auto has the capability to connect to your home network through a data connection and lets you check in on your home. Want to adjust the temperature on the thermostat? Pull up the relevant app on the phone and make the change.
What does all of this mean for the average car consumer? Easier integration with a smartphone, less stress when driving, and a vehicle that supports the driver by offering information when needed, and sometimes even before it’s thought of. Android Auto and its features are still in their early stages of adaptation and acceptance, but the future looks bright for both Google and car owners alike.