Products with Google’s Android Auto software are just getting ready to roll out, allowing users to pair their phone with supported in-car systems to play music, make or take phone calls, or use turn-by-turn navigation while driving.

But Reuters reports Google is already working on next-gen software that could let you do those things without using your phone at all.

android auto
Android Auto


The next major version of Google is code-named Android M for now, although it’s likely that Google will pick a dessert that starts with the letter M by the time the software is ready to go in about a year. Maybe we’ll see Android 5.0 Marzipan, M&Ms, or Milk Chocolate?

Anyway, Reuters cites sources close to the project who say that Android would be integrated directly into the in-vehicle navigation and entertainment systems. This would give the software more access to a car’s hardware including fuel gauges and other sensors. But by connecting to your Google account, you’d still presumably be able to sync data between your phone and car so that, for instance, your Spotify preferences would be available on both.

Reuters says before Android is ready to become the default software in cars though, it would need to be able to power up instantly instead of taking 30 seconds to perform a cold boot. Google will also have to convince car makers to adopt the platform — the company faces competition from Apple and others… not to mention the car makers themselves who ultimately get to choose which software to include in their automobiles.

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8 replies on “Report: Android M will power in-car systems (no phone required)”

  1. Another big issue they need to support is offline maps, at least if they expect these devices to use Google maps. I guess manufacturers could still use android with alternative maps (the recently released Nokia maps for android is great).

    Faster boot would be a good thing in general. It’s an odd world that now my windows pc boots in 12s, and I’m waiting ages for my phone to start up.

    I thought most car systems these days are windows ce based, or other embedded platforms like qnx.

  2. This might be a good application for Project Ara type of hardware.

  3. This would go obsolete in fewer than 2 years with the current rate of technological advancements.

    The car’s built-in computer systems don’t go obsolete in 2 or 3 years. They last the lifetime of the car.

    I believe interfacing with the car’s built-in computer systems (such as ECM and transmission control modules) as well as the A/C system and other power accessories is essential. The Torque app already does SOME of this via the car’s OBD2 connector, and it is a bit of a clunky solution since you need to buy a separate adapter for the OBD2 connector and then figure out how to mount your phone on the dash.

    I think the solution is a durable interface between whatever is the newest available infotainment hardware/software and the car’s computer systems. Something along the lines of a double-DIN hole in the dash with hardwired connectors to the car’s power, speakers, microphone, ODB2, antenna(s), HVAC system, power seats, windows, locks, etc.

    The manufacturer’s could then factory-equip cars with an easily interchangeable head unit that runs Android Auto or Apple CarPlay (or whatever) with the understanding that users may upgrade to a newer head unit once the technology in the head unit is obsolete.

  4. I’m wondering if they will have separate systems that you can buy with Android M running in them and then just have it installed like any other new vehicle system display. I’ve been looking to update my cars system and that would be great if you could buy it separately instead of looking for a new car with this built in. My car is only 5 years old so there’s no way I’d buy a new car just to have these features. It not being integrated into my cars hardware to track gas wouldn’t bother me at all if I can have the main features of Android.

    1. Car satnav and entertainment systems are replaceable and upgradable, why would an android based system be any different?

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