Google is about to take on Apple for control of dashboard computing, the world of in-car infotainment that ultimately could link smartphones to a vehicle’s own controls and display screen.
Google is this week expected to unveil its first in-car interface for Android smartphones, likely to be called Google Auto Link. It would directly compete with the iPhone interface, CarPlay, that Apple revealed with much fanfare at the Geneva motor show in March.
Google said at the beginning of the year that it was “developing new Android platform features that will enable the car itself to become a connected Android device.” But these features are believed to be different from what it will show this week.
Around 95 per cent of the world’s smartphones are controlled by either Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android operating systems. Android has overtaken Apple’s iOS as the world’s most popular. Both technology giants’ ultimate aim is to go beyond underlying operating systems and into an embedded standard interface for drivers.
They argue that as most of the world is using iOS or Android, similar platforms in cars is a logical move. Besides, say analysts, it would remove continued infotainment development pressure on carmakers and offer economies of scale carmakers have long lacked.
CarPlay can be activated with the touch of a button, and the first car to adopt it was the Ferrari FF (top). Apple said that models from Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo would follow later this year. Hyundai in the US has already confirmed that CarPlay will be available in the facelifted 2015 Sonata.
Apple described CarPlay as “a smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car”. Its interface resembles that of the iPhone and it lets drivers choose a song, set a satellite-navigation route or make a phone call using voice controls or large, colorful buttons on a touchscreen.