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Google Teams Up With Audi for Another Android Revolution

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Until present day Apple dominated the automobile automation with iOS in the Car (iOSitC), the standard introduced by Apple to enable working with manufacturers’ built-in in-car systems. This system aims for several functions such as Siri, Satellite navigation, telephony instruction and controls, music controls and iMessage controls. Apple is already in partnership with a number of leading automobile manufacturers including BMW, Honda, Mercedes, Nissan, Ferrari, Hyundai, Kia, and Infiniti.

Now Google is stepping up their competition with Apple iOS by teaming up with Audi to develop in-car entertainment and information systems based on the Android operating system. This partnership will allow in-car integration of music and navigation apps currently available on smartphones. Other companies, such as graphics and application processor maker nVidia, are also expected to join the initiative to develop Android-based “infotainment” systems.

The difference of the strategy of Apple and Google is in the method of implementation.Apple’s initiative is designed with the iPhone as the base 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. Google in contrast, wants to run the software off of dedicated hardware inside the car.

The strategy of Google has both positives and negatives. On one hand, the system is more likely to function seamlessly with important in-car systems like navigation or suspension settings. But, on the adverse side, users won’t have all the information in the same place as they will have with the Apple set up.

While the partnership is expected to step up Google’s competition with Apple, it will be strengthening Audi’s brand name on many levels. Having a trusted brand name attached to new cars can be a big attraction to consumers. For instance, Ford experienced a significant rise in its sales in 2007 after the introduction of Microsoft Sync infotainment system to its vehicles. In addition the synergies in terms of financial strength and technical know-how of the two partners would make the venture more probable to be successful against already established Apple solutions.

Google and Apple are not the only prestigious players in the connected automobile space – Their latest competitor (ironically), Finnish firm Nokia is also an eminent challenger, with their Here Auto initiative that was announced in August 2013. It has been a pattern of any of the three players finding a breakthrough idea and the other two are following the path. But at the end competition leads to a product which world is going to benefit in big time. That has been the pattern during last 6 years. Mainly Android and Apple came up with more innovative products than Nokia.

According to reports, Nokia is hoping to build upon their mapping and navigation experience to build car-integrated infotainment systems, with the goal of eventually up scaling Here Auto to autonomous driving as part of future “smart city” networks.

By Darshika Fernando (Undergraduate, Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya)