Coming to a dashboard near you, maybe: Android M, Google’s tentatively-named platform for automotive infotainment and connected services management. Designed and built directly into the vehicle as an integrated system, Android M is the first connected platform that is not dependent upon a tethered smartphone. Unlike Android Auto, which “projects” the user interface onto the in-dash display from the smartphone, Android M generates the UI and hosts all applications inside the dash.
This direct integration approach has the potential for fully leveraging Google’s suite of connected services as well as gaining usage of a vehicle’s on-board sensors, cameras and Wi-Fi connections (as equipped). It is this type of integration that would ultimately lead to meeting higher expectations from consumers who are increasingly comparing their connected experience in cars to that of their smartphones and tablets.
This degree of integration into an automaker’s vehicle doesn’t come without challenges, as companies such as Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen executives have been critical of Google’s (and Apple’s) data collection and handling practices. Other automakers are understandably concerned over handing over their entire infotainment platform to an outside company, particularly one that has such robust data analytics and cloud computing capabilities currently outside the reach of most car companies. Considering the average American spends nearly 50 minutes commuting on a workday, that adds up to a tremendous amount of data generated for Google’s usage.
If automakers cannot leverage the revenue potential of big data generated by the increasing demand for connected services in and out of the car, they need to partner with companies who can. Understanding the challenge and taking correct measures to create a “winning team” will help automakers to recognize this as a viable revenue source worthy of cross-industry collaboration.
We read with interest the opinion of IHS Automotive analyst Mark Boyadjis: “Automakers want to keep their brand appeal and keep their differentiation … automakers don’t want to have a state of the industry where you get in any vehicle and it’s just the same experience wherever you go.” While we agree that in-car connected experiences need to be personalized, we believe standardized platforms deliver much-needed (and wanted) familiarity to consumers who for years have been confronted with infotainment system menu complexity, poor device compatibility and lack of upgrade capability. Automotive branding and differentiation should not be “Job One” if the attempt overwhelms a driver’s ability to operate the system safely and to their expectations.
We support the idea of automakers partnering with technology companies in the delivery of advanced connected car solutions as well as the responsible, proper usage of the data generated by such vehicles. With much of their infotainment system development already outsourced, automakers continue to show good judgment in leaving the connected infotainment tech development to the experts who do it for a living. And do it well.
Source: Google aiming to go straight into car with next Android, report says – Automotive News