Car maker points to future of in-car entertainment.
Hold on, it’s just a concept car for now, but that doesn’t mean the auto industry isn’t abuzz with excitement over Audi’s Q8 sport concept platform. The vehicle, showcased last week at Google’s I/O event, features a fully integrated Android operating system to power the vehicle’s infotainment system.
So far, the setup is pretty ordinary. Your music apps are on both the console screen and the driver’s field of vision dashboard, incoming calls appear there, and navigation apps – two separate choices, including Audi’s proprietary HERE platform as well as Google Maps, for Android devotees – are integrated into the screen. What’s new, however, is the open source effort behind it: Audi is relying on the multi-million strong Android Open Source Community to develop further in-car features.
How open is their open source?
If previous demonstrations of the ability to hack a vehicle are any indication, Audi had better have a lock on how the open source content is integrated into its fleet of vehicles. The auto maker is still recovering, both financially and from the reputation hit, due to last year’s diesel emissions cheating scandal in which several automakers were caught installing software that changed the exhaust output when the car detected a test was in progress.
Not everyone in the automotive industry is excited about these kinds of options. A post for Noelins Insurance, for example, points out that, “According to the National Safety Council, 53% of drivers believe these infotainment systems are safe because, in some instances, they allow for hands-free interaction. In reality, these systems are more about convenience than safety.”
However, that hasn’t stopped automakers from forging ahead with bigger, bolder uses for in-car infotainment systems, some of which are not only Bluetooth integrated but even rely on the vehicle’s own wifi. For those who must sync their phone’s to the vehicle for connectivity, Audi’s adoption of Android is a safe bet, considering the sheer numbers of Android users.
According to AutomotiveWorld, “The seamless integration of Android harbours tremendous potential. Android is the world’s most popular mobile platform with more than 1.4 billion active users worldwide. The open Android community’s immense breadth of expertise and creativity can speed up the development of new applications. New apps can quickly find their way into the cars as additional connected services, for example, if they fulfill the requirements of Google and Audi. The foundation for this is the Android platform. Other customer advantages alongside shorter update cycles include a significantly greater diversity of services as well as broad international availability.”