Following Apple’s lead with its planned CarPlay infotainment system, which optimizes a compatible console unit for the iPhone OS, Google already has something similar in the works debuting in 2015 called Android Auto.
The current software requires connection to an Android-powered phone to be connected to the car, but according to Reuters, Google wants to take things even further. The company plans to offer automakers the opportunity to install an upcoming version of the Android software directly into the car’s infotainment unit, becoming the standard operating interface.
The direct integration would mean that it would operate phone free, allowing drivers to access internet functions like navigation and other apps without the need to pair a mobile device. Cutting out the middleman sounds like a smart move, but it won’t be without concern.
At the moment, CarPlay and Android Auto work on top of an auto manufacturer’s infotainment operating system, something they painstakingly develop in-house. They do so to provide a unique experience to its customers so that the BMW iDrive is different from Ford’s Sync, for example, so car companies might not be to keen shedding an element of their brand appeal.
The other concerns are safety and liability. Google is nigh-omnipresent in our lives, and handing over access to data where they can log your locations, fuel levels and speeds would raise more than a few concerns. At best, a company’s bottom line could be affected by consumers weary of such data collection. At worst, it’s a pandora’s box of how the data could be used in legal situations.
Both Apple and Google’s in-car systems have yet to even fully roll out, so this may be a case of putting the cart before the horse, but we’ll see how things play out in the future.