Miffed that only iPhone users so far get to have a holistic in-car experience with their phones with Apple CarPlay? Google is addressing that with an in-car OS of its own, called Android Auto.
Like CarPlay, Android Auto isn’t installed in the car; rather, it is built into Android itself and takes over the car’s existing screen and infotainment system when a phone is plugged in. The interface gives the driver direct access to the phone’s calls, messages and music, allows navigation through Google Maps built specifically for automotive use and can even show vehicle service information if it is available.
In addition to the existing touchscreen and physical controls (like Audi’s MMI knob), Android Auto can also, like CarPlay, be controlled by voice, this time through Google Now. As with its competitor, the system also features support from third-party apps such as Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio.
The first cars supporting Android Auto will be available in late 2014 and the impressive roster of automotive partners announced for the system include Audi, Chevrolet, the Fiat Chrysler brands (excluding Ferrari, whose cars will support CarPlay only), Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Volkswagen and Volvo.
Many of these companies have also signed up with Apple for CarPlay, meaning that their cars will potentially be able to support both systems. Volvo has already announced that the upcoming XC90 will come with support for both CarPlay and Android Auto.