Android and Apple operating systems have found a new battlefield – in-car entertainment systems. As technology, and especially the mobile phone, plays an increasingly important role in our lives, these giants are now flexing their muscles in the cabin of your next car. Some car manufacturers have already announced alliances, like Volvo with Apple, while Google is favoured by Audi. But these alliances are not permanent, or exclusive. Like mobile companies use both Windows and Android operating systems, carmakers like Honda, Hyundai, and General Motors will keep one foot in both camps – Android and iOS. That way prospective car buyers don’t have to choose car brands based on the cell phone in their pocket.
Gone are the days when we just needed a radio and a CD player, which provided an option to plug in your mp3 player or smart phone. Both Google and Apple want to bring in the familiarity of their OS with easy to use apps that will not only make life simpler but also make driving safer.
Apple CarPlay, showcased at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this year, can only be connected by using the Lightning Connector, which means it’s compatible only with the iPhone 5, 5S and 5C. It lets you use the cars navigation system, make calls and read messages. The basic concept is that a touch screen interface replaces the music system, and, in the case of CarPlay, it also gives you the option to heavily rely on Siri. Therefore, you can voice command functions like check and dictate messages, enter locations into the navigation system, and launch apps without taking your eye off the road.
Google, too, is working on something similar called the Open Automotive Alliance. Though the information is still hush-hush, expect it to rival Apple function-for-function.
Both the Apple and Google are looking to bring in more car centric features to make driving safer, improve fuel economy, and receive real-time traffic information. It will even veto the driver’s command due to safety reasons if need be. But many questions remain – will automakers simply give up developing proprietary systems, and will you be forced to stick to a particular operating system on your phone because it better communicates with your car? And, more importantly, will these systems actually enable drivers to pay more attention to the road than they pay to their cell phones?