Google's next move: Is Apple CarPlay officially over?

The in-car tech wars are upon us as Google refires its Android system to tackle Apple's CarPlay dominance

Android Automotive inside the Polestar 2 EV

UPDATE: Google has announced even more news surrounding its in-car infotainment systems

In recent years, many car purchases have come down to whether or not a new car has been fitted with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

So important has the technology become, in fact, that Mazda decided to offer retrofitting the service to older models.

However, the technology really only mirrors your phone. As well, it only works with a handful of CarPlay or Android Auto apps, like Spotify, Maps or Text Messaging.

Apple’s infamous “There’s an app for that” isn’t so true when you’re on a road trip wanting to know how you can find and book a hotel simply by voice command, or have your car tell you where the nearest café with decent Wifi and five-star coffee might be…

When you consider the technology that is available to us in our home, is that really where we should be when it comes to our cars? Google doesn’t think so.

Ahead of next week's major annual developer conference, I/O 2019, Google has made the bold announcement that it will be opening up its Android Automotive systems to app developers.

This comes off the back of deals with Volvo, Fiat Chrysler and Audi to implement Google's operating system into new cars.

Google's Android Automotive

What is Android Automotive? Different from Android Auto in the sense that Android Automotive is run by the system in the car, not off your phone, Google Android Automotive system is a dashboard-centric tech using GooglePlay Apps, voice recognition and more.

It will also be able to control heating, ventilation and some other car controls, depending on the manufacturer.  It was introduced in 2017 by Google as the next generation of in-car operating systems after the major tech company looked at Android Auto and thought, ‘well this is a bit lame now, isn’t it?’.

The most recent announcement of offering Android Automotive’s platform to developers will start with the usual media apps – podcasts, music, audiobooks, entertainment etc. But Google has hinted at plans to let developers also build apps for navigation and communication.

Of course, developers will have to adhere to new rules around distraction and security, but by opening up its systems, this means more creativity and more potential API integration and for us, more ways to simplify (or complicate!) our lives.

Google’s reasoning is that by the time this technology starts rolling out into cars, app developers will have designed plenty of  “new entertainment experiences” for passengers and drivers.

So far, the first car that has been confirmed with Android Automotive is the Polestar 2 EV, which was revealed at Geneva Motor Show earlier this year.

In terms of the O/S wars, this could mean big things for Android adoption. More people might consider switching to Android, for example, and it could certainly inject more dollars into GooglePlay.

Apple, your move.

What do you think? Would you prefer an integrated system in your car over a phone-mirroring app? And, iPhone users, would it be enough to make you switch to an Android phone? Tell us in the comments below.


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Noelle Faulkner

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