Google accelerates Android Car – Deeper integration in the car and on mobile




Google puts the last few years more and more time and effort into the further development of Android, to make it more than just software running on phones. After telephones were tablets, after tablets were smart watches and televisions and the new domains to conquer Google Android is the car. It started two years ago on Google’s own developer conference I / O, which announced the Android Auto; a system with which it is possible to connect an Android phone on the screen of a car dashboard. The interface is thereby simplified and focused on car use, so that drivers are not distracted too much while driving.

Android Auto relies heavily on Google Maps for navigation and makes it possible for example to integrate music apps through various APIs. In addition, it can handle incoming calls and notifications read. Support for Auto is now sparsely built into new cars, but because people do many years with a car it will be some time before it is widespread.

I / O, Google announced this year, therefore, a new possibility, one of which you may wonder why it was not possible from the outset; later this year the Android Auto interface will run on your phone or tablet as an app. this is not very innovative; There are several manufacturers who have supplied all apps in the past who showed for driving during a simple interface. Because the Android Car app for your phone leaning on existing Android Auto APIs and systems, it goes way beyond that kind of apps and there has been good support from other services.

If you get the app starts you first see a summary screen showing popular destinations, or upcoming destinations from your calendar. Also you can see the weather, missed calls and recent messages that have arrived. Via voice recognition or the touch screen you can start the navigation via Google Maps. Maps itself looks almost the same as on the phone, but with less buttons and information on the screen and buttons that are displayed or are larger, so they are easy to touch.

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Android Auto is especially useful if you want to change while driving between different applications. As you would the regular Android interface to use, you have to deal with small buttons and you need to look at the screen when you do it, which can be dangerous while driving. Because car the most common scenarios, such as making and listening to music, are ingrained, you can stay within the app and do not have to change. You’ll get in the car environment to see a navigation bar at the bottom with a return and Home button, like on an Android phone without hardware buttons below the screen. This bar works only in Auto and thus you can always easily return to the home screen.

The app version of Car looked we could test during I / O properly complete and given the fact that almost all of the functionality previously developed for the dashboard variant that is not crazy. The app needs to come out later this year and is a nice extra for anyone who already uses his phone to navigate the car.

Android takes the whole car over

Apart from these simple variant of Auto Google also showed an extremely extended version, in a custom Maserati Ghibli. This was equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon SOC and showed the interface on a large 4K screen that was mounted vertically in the dashboard. The installation was similar to the familiar screen the cars from Tesla. Unlike the first version of Auto, where everything takes on a phone and displayed on the car screen, this version completely turned on the car hardware.

android car Maserati

That opens the doors to new possibilities compared to the first Auto-deployment, as it turned out during a demonstration we got from the Dutchman Stef Greeks, who works on Android Car at Google. Not only did he serve affairs of Android, such as navigation and music, but also all systems of the car, such as the climate control, the operation of the window and seat heating and Vibrating were integrated into the Android interface. The software that the actual driving of the vehicle controls is separate completely here. This is a real-time operating system that works separately, so that the car rijfunctionaliteit can never be disturbed.

The idea behind this implementation of Android Auto is clear; as smartphone manufacturers running Android on their hardware, it is going to use the hope that automakers Android for all matters that can be operated in the car, the air conditioning to the radio. And perhaps even more, for the Maserati prototype was behind the wheel a wide screen with include the speedometer, which was also powered by Android. Do you get a call, then you see it here so you do not have to look at the screen in the middle and here you can also see for example the following statement when you are navigating. According Greeks would have additional screens can control, for example in the back of the headrests.

android car concept

Multiple apps side by side

The interface relies heavily on a new feature that is in the upcoming Android N; the ability to have multiple applications at the same time on the screen. The screen in the Ghibli was divided into three horizontal strips and each strip turned an app. The bottom of the app for controlling vehicle functions, the middle and upper Maps app that adapts to the activity center.

The demonstration we were looked neat and the system seemed to work easily and intuitively. Whether that is if you hurtling down the highway at full speed, or worse, driving in a busy downtown, is still questionable. Also, we are not entirely convinced that huge screens in cars are a good development; how beautiful the implementation is, it remains a visual interface that attracts attention, while actually driving should be focused. He’s always you can not blindly operate under the fingerprints and a touchscreen, whereas you can with physical buttons.

According to Van Greeks Google is aware of this and try to minimize the amount of distraction and the amount of time you look to minimize the screen. It does so by making the Android interface less busy than to seduce on smartphones and users as much as possible to do with voice control, so they can continue watching the road. In the development of Auto is also tested literally, by equipping test riders with a kind of helmet cameras that keep track of where they are looking at. Additionally, you can for many functions using the buttons on the steering wheel, just as now is the case in many automobiles.

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When and if we are going to see this extended version of Android Car in production cars is not yet known. At present, the Maserati demonstration car is the only implementation, but Google says it is in discussions with several manufacturers. The source code will anyway release later this year along with Android N so that automakers can get to work.


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