Android Auto may be just the start for Google’s ambitions inside the car.
According to multiple reports Google is building its own infotainment system, which would be far more powerful than Android Auto. The clues come from references in the Android Compatibility Definition Document to something called Android Automotive.
So what’s the difference between Android Auto and what Google may be cooking up? Android Auto is essentially an app that connects to your car’s existing infotainment system. It's made to link with your phone, which really drives everything. No phone, no maps, music, or search.
Some car manufacturers are shipping in-dash infotainment systems that are based on the Android OS, but they’re custom builds from the Android Open Source Project. The problem there, just like with phones, is they run older Android builds and may not be as secure as you'd like.
Google could alleviate this by buidling its own system, which would by default use Google Maps for navigation and have services like Play Music and others built in. This would enable developers to build apps for Android Automotive, which could extend the platform’s capability.
This is a pretty early concept, so we’ll have to wait and see how things proceed. In the meantime there’s always Android Auto, which we rather liked in our review.
It’s also rolling out in a lot of 2016 models, but you’ll need to check with a dealership to find out if it’s coming in a car you’re after.
The story behind the story: Google may not be Ford, but it sure has a heavy interest in cars. We knew about Android Auto and of course Google’s self-driving car initiative. But now it looks like Google could serve as the central hub for a car’s entertainment system. The company’s deep data prowess could give it a lot of strength in this area, but it’s rather early to tell how far this effort may go.