Google takes aim at Apple's 'iOS in the Car' with Audi-Android partnership

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2014
Apple is not the only major smartphone vendor with an eye toward a vehicle-integrated future, as Google is reportedly set to announce a collaboration with Audi that would have future cars from the automaker run in-dash systems based on Android.

HondaLink
Honda's Display Audio HondaLink Navigation powered by an iPhone


Mountain View, Calif.-based Google and Ingolstadt, Germany-headquartered Audi will unveil the partnership at next week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, according to The Wall Street Journal. Other companies, such as graphics and application processor maker nVidia, are also expected to join the initiative to develop Android-based "infotainment" systems.

Similar to Apple's iOS in the Car strategy, which the company revealed at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June of this year, Google's end goal is to allow a vehicle's occupants to use the same apps and system functions on the in-car systems that they do on their Android-powered smartphones. One area where Apple and Google are said to differ, however, is in the idea's implementation.

Apple's initiative is designed with the iPhone as the "brain" of the system --?that is, many system functions would not be available until an iPhone was connected, either via a wired tether or wirelessly through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Japanese automaker and Apple iOS in the Car partner Honda introduced such a system earlier this month for their 2014 Civic and 2015 Fit automobiles.

Google, in contrast, wants to run the software off of dedicated hardware inside the car, according to the report.

iOS in the Car Maps
Apple Maps on iOS in the Car Source: Apple


Audi's participation is particularly interesting as Audi's parent company, Volkswagen, has long had ties to Apple. Volkswagen and Apple collaborated on the iBeetle, a new version of Volkswagen's venerable compact that features deep iPhone integration, earlier this year, though the Wolfsburg, Germany-based automaker was notably absent from Apple's initial list of partners for iOS in the Car.

The Audi collaboration will be Google's first public partnership for Android in the automotive field, though one industry insider says that the open source mobile operating system has already begun making inroads even without Google's overt support. Rajeev Kumar, a business development executive with chipmaker Freescale Semiconductor, told the Journal that "we are starting to see an uptick of Android use in car makers, starting in Asia and working its way across the world."

Apple has already established deep relationships in the auto world. In addition to Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Ferrari, Chevrolet, Infiniti, Kia, Hyundai, Volvo, Acura, Opel, and Jaguar have all announced support for iOS in the Car for 2014 models. Several of those have also begun integrating Apple's Siri Eyes Free functionality, a precursor to iOS in the Car that enables drivers to activate Apple's digital personal assistant with a steering wheel-mounted button and pipes both the driver's commands and Siri's responses through the vehicle's audio system.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 143
    Android in Audi vehicles? What a major misstep and failure to understand their own customers. Android is the low-rent OS that mostly appears on crappy, cheap hardware. iOS appears only only the finest hardware. Clearly Audi products have more in common with Apple, and I am willing to bet their customers share very similar taste and economic advantages. Android belongs in Kia and Hyundai.
  • Reply 2 of 143
    Audi? LOL. Jason Statham won't survive his next car chase with Android on board. :D
  • Reply 3 of 143
    Android in Audi vehicles? What a major misstep and failure to understand their own customers. Android is the low-rent OS that mostly appears on crappy, cheap hardware. iOS appears only only the finest hardware. Clearly Audi products have more in common with Apple, and I am willing to bet their customers share very similar taste and economic advantages. Android belongs in Kia and Hyundai.

    I am surprised the Koreans didn't do it already. They can call it "Open Dashboard Alliance" with "Open" = "do what Google says or else."
  • Reply 4 of 143
    Ha ha. Agree, a luxury car maker whose customer demographic are iPhone, not Android, users ties their product with the race-to-the-bottom, we'll-sell-your-personal-info mobile OS. This is a worse marketing decision than Ford's tie up with Microsoft.
  • Reply 5 of 143
    I can see where Auto manufacturers would find Android OS integrated into their car as a way to garner control over the services, albeit, Google Android is notoriously not open when the apps compete with Google e.g., music, maps, search, etc. thereby compromising this control, ask SAMSUNG.

    However, this is a very complicated endeavor where underlying infrastructure is important. A car has a 5 to 15 year lifespan and this means support in the software and hardware for nearly an order of magnitude time horizon greater time horizon for Android 18 months. Apple, albeit not yet in that time league, has a 4X time line support and infrastructure upgrades advantage of 3-5 years for iOS and OSX, respectively. For the auto manufacturer having the driver bring the device to the car, substantially reduces the lifecycle support challenges. Note, i do not mean to say it goes away, but sure is easier.

    A big concern for the automobile manufacturers is going to be licensing costs, Nokia, Apple, Microsoft, etc. are aggressively pursuing licensing agreements or denial of patents when using Android. Google has not developed an IP strategy that reduces any liability, case in point HTC with Nokia bans in Germany, soon in the US and UK, Apple's successful IP lawsuits with Samsung and more to come on that, and Microsoft on Motorola.

    It is easy to imagine a licensing cost for auto manufactures of $50 to $100 or more per car. This is a liability that must be on the minds of the car manufacturers.

    So allowing a phone iOS, Windows Mobile 8, or Android to interact in a limited way with the car is certainly valuable to customers and since these are "bring your own device" relatively low cost and risk free, but Android as core OS in cars is much more problematical.
  • Reply 6 of 143
    Was looking to buy Audi in 2014-2015 but now I don't think I will be going with this company! Android dashboard? Wow :no:
  • Reply 7 of 143

    I have spent 300k€ + on Audis during the past 15 years. If the next model comes with Google/android crapware on board, I will switch to Mercedes or BMW.

     

    FAIL!!!

  • Reply 8 of 143

    This suggests that the entire VAG/Volkswagen group (VW, Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, SEAT, Skoda, Bugatti and Bentley) may wind up going with some flavor of Android in the future. And considering the demographic targets of some of those uber high end brands, it does seem kind of bizarre that they'd put a mobile OS in those cars which has a reputation for being mass market (no cachet at all), unsecure, wonky (from version to version and device to device) and targeted toward people who choose it because they need/want cheap entry into mobile... but don't use their devices in the same way that iOS or even BB OS users do. Maybe this is mainly to help Audi differentiate itself from the direction that Mercedes, BMW and Jaguar are going in, as they go with iOS.

     

    An appropriate survey question, I believe: what percentage of Audi (or Porsche) owners own iOS devices vs. Android devices???

  • Reply 9 of 143
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,075member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jguther View Post

     

    I have spent 300k€ + on Audis during the past 15 years. If the next model comes with Google/android crapware on board, I will switch to Mercedes or BMW.

     

    FAIL!!!






    Switch to Volvo instead.  Volvo and Audi are the only two luxury car manufacturers to stay away from the touchscreen/mouse horror combination that is taking over the UI of the car.  I drove a Lexus the other day, and I couldn't figure out how to get hot air on my feet, accidentally turned on the navigation system that started talking to me instead.  Touchscreen and mouse is a dangerous thing, it takes your eyes off the road for too long.



    The Volvo UI is designed to be operated while wearing gloves in the winter, and to be intuitive so that you can get exactly what you want in a sub-second glance.

  • Reply 10 of 143
    So you're saying iOS shouldn't be in a Honda?
  • Reply 11 of 143
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Jag_Warrior View Post

     

    This suggests that the entire VAG/Volkswagen group (VW, Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, SEAT, Skoda, Bugatti and Bentley) may wind up going with some flavor of Android in the future. And considering the demographic targets of some of those uber high end brands, it does seem kind of bizarre that they'd put a mobile OS in those cars which has a reputation for being mass market (no cachet at all), unsecure, wonky (from version to version and device to device) and targeted toward people who choose it because they need/want cheap entry into mobile... but don't use their devices in the same way that iOS or even BB OS users do. Maybe this is mainly to help Audi differentiate itself from the direction that Mercedes, BMW and Jaguar are going in, as they go with iOS.

     

    An appropriate survey question, I believe: what percentage of Audi (or Porsche) owners own iOS devices vs. Android devices???


    Valid survey question.  It would be interesting to see if iOS market share is dropping as much for Audi owners and potential owners as it is for the overall market.  Europe iOS market share (by sales) dropped below 15% vs >80% for Android. Worldwide it is a similar picture...

  • Reply 12 of 143
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post



    Ha ha. Agree, a luxury car maker whose customer demographic are iPhone, not Android, users ties their product with the race-to-the-bottom, we'll-sell-your-personal-info mobile OS. This is a worse marketing decision than Ford's tie up with Microsoft.

     

    This would/should be a HUGE concern if one had an Android device in his car and it had access to any of the vehicles onboard systems. Considering that Google seems to be in a neck & neck race with FaceBook and the NSA for the title of Data Mining World Champion, I can imagine getting a cancellation letter in the mail from my insurance company stating, "It has come to our attention that on your recent trip to Atlanta, you exceeded a speed of 90mph on six occasions. Goodbye forever!" Progressive Insurance is already offering discounts to suckers who willingly putting these nanny snoopers on their cars. I doubt Google/Android would even bother with getting permission - they don't with anything else.

     

    If my company feels that Android is so unsecure that the CIO will not allow that OS on our network, then why in the world would I want such an OS in my car?! Especially considering a severe medical condition I have, known as LeadFootitis.

  • Reply 13 of 143
    I think creating piles of $100 bills and burning them is a much easier and probably more entertaining way of destroying the company!

    Why take the trouble to integrate Android into the car?
  • Reply 14 of 143

    Audi uses QNX. QNX can now run Android apps. This is what's going to happen.

     

    Nobody is stupid enough to actually run Android on an embedded computer module in your car. It's nowhere near reliable enough.

  • Reply 15 of 143
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by noneyabusiness View Post

     

    Valid survey question.  It would be interesting to see if iOS market share is dropping as much for Audi owners and potential owners as it is for the overall market.  Europe iOS market share (by sales) dropped below 15% vs >80% for Android. Worldwide it is a similar picture...


     

    I agree; that would be a very good question.

  • Reply 16 of 143
    hello2014 wrote: »
    So you're saying iOS shouldn't be in a Honda?

    Honda is an edge case. A lot of mothers buy Honda vehicles (CR-V?) and I only see them with iPhones.
  • Reply 17 of 143
    So disappointed in this news. I was looking forward to picking up a diesel powered A5 in 2014. If this is true; I will have to spend my money elsewhere. I hope this is a bad joke.,,,
  • Reply 18 of 143
    e1618978 wrote: »


    Switch to Volvo instead.  Volvo and Audi are the only two luxury car manufacturers to stay away from the touchscreen/mouse horror combination that is taking over the UI of the car.  I drove a Lexus the other day, and I couldn't figure out how to get hot air on my feet, accidentally turned on the navigation system that started talking to me instead.  Touchscreen and mouse is a dangerous thing, it takes your eyes off the road for too long.


    The Volvo UI is designed to be operated while wearing gloves in the winter, and to be intuitive so that you can get exactly what you want in a sub-second glance.

    Compared to VW/Audi I personally find the entire Volvo aesthetic visually offensive.
  • Reply 19 of 143
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,286member
    IMO it's actually Microsoft who has the most to lose and not Apple when manufacturers seriously consider Android for embedded systems. Both the medical and auto industry's are already taking a good look.
  • Reply 20 of 143
    I would prefer an iOS environment (who wouldn't?), but making an iPhone the brains of the system is a big mistake. What if your iphone is on the fritz or back at home? Will you not be able to access convenient/important settings and services? What if your cellular carrier doesn't let you access voice and data at the same time---which creates a conflict in how you use the phone in the car?
    I used to have a Ford Explorer with MySync. MySync is based on Android. It was buggy as heck, but in many ways it worked well and had a good interface. So long as any Android care interface works well with my iPhone---I will be happy with that.

    On the flip side, this probably means there will be no Lightning Bolt (iPhone 5) connector for the existing Audi MMI--which blows since now I drive a Q5.
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