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Details of Android Automotive revealed as the OS nears launch

09 May 2018 Colin Bird-Martinez

Alphabet Inc.'s developer conference, called Google I/O, kicked off yesterday where the company released new features and gave updates on its fledgling automotive products and solutions. In a preview announcement, Google revealed the following:

  • Last year Google announced that Android Automotive, its new embedded operating system, would be available in Volvo and Audi vehicles by 2019
  • Volvo vehicles will offer a variant of Android Automotive that will feature the Google Play Store, Google Assistant, and Google Maps
  • Apps available on the automotive-centric Google Play store for Android Automotive will include iHeartRadio, Pandora, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Telegram, WhatsApp, Android Messages, Google Play Books, and Google Play Music, with more to come
  • Android Auto will get several template and user interface changes, including new methods of browsing content more quickly
  • Android Auto music apps will be directly integrated into Google Assistant to allow drivers to quickly discover related music to what they're currently listening to
  • Android Auto now features group messaging and Rich Communication Services (RCS), which allows for things like sharing of location, audio messaging, VoIP voice calls, and more.

IHS Markit Analysis
With a large potential library of apps, hardware support, security support, continuous research and development, customer care support and maintenance, Android Automotive will be a formidable challenger in the automotive space.

Android Automotive will likely have a simple application programming interface (API), similar to the one offered on Android Auto. In fact, IHS Markit expects that current Android Auto apps will be easily ported over to Android Automotive, and in fact many of the preannounced compatible apps are the same as the ones offered on Android Auto.

IHS Markit also expects Google Chrome to be used as a cloud-client embedded browser system for HTML-based application frameworks, providing OEMs the ability to lightweight the performance specs of their infotainment headunits. IHS Markit also sees Google Calendar, as well as other productivity suites, being integrated into Android Automotive as well. There is also high consumer awareness of Android, meaning advertising "Powered by Android" or "Powered by Google" will potentially resonate.

"Vanilla" Android - systems that cannot use Google Play Store - have access to things like an over-the-air update framework, a chromium browser, and software-development kits that utilize broadly used coding languages. The open-source and large development community means reduced development costs and increased flexibility. Android's benefits include its large developer community, with more than 6 million developers, and a plethora of popular apps that are easy to port from other systems. Currently automakers like GM, Hyundai, Renault, Honda, Roewe, MG and Maxus utilize various vanilla Android variants.

Forecasts from IHS Markit indicate that more than 90 million vehicles will be equipped with Android OS by 2023, with over 2.6 million being the Google-sanctioned "Android Automotive" OS variant.
In addition, IHS Markit forecasts suggest that Android Automotive will comprise approximately 32 percent share of new Volvo headunits by 2023, and 30 percent of new Audi units. However, overall Android Automotive will comprise only 1% of the total automotive market by 2023. Overall, Vanilla Android systems will comprise about 21 percent by the same time frame, up from 13 percent of the market today.

According to IHS Markit forecasts, Android Auto is predicted to be in 154 million vehicles on the road by 2023.

Automotive Software Platforms Report Synopsis
The Automotive Software Platforms report from IHS Markit provides analysis of apps distribution platforms, such as SmartDeviceLink, Amazon Alexa, Android Automotive, GENIVI Linux, Automotive Grade Linux, QNX, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and more. The report has comprehensive: worldwide and regional market size; forecasts through 2024; analysis and trends; detail frameworks and API analysis; applications analysis; and vendor analysis. The report will release in June of 2018 and is distributed as a single copy report, or as a subscription service within Automotive Software, Apps, and Services (SAS) offering from IHS Markit.

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