Google and Qualcomm have announced a partnership to enhance Android Auto, including the long-demanded wireless mode.
Android Auto is an infotainment feature that Google announced during the 2014 Google I/O. The company also released an Android Auto app in March 2015. About 100 car models across 40 brands use Android Auto but the company plans to extend its reach to more cars in the near term.
Android Auto automatically displays useful information and it also organizes them into simple cards. Android Auto is not a stand-alone feature and customers need a smartphone to use it in a car.
"To use Android Auto, you need an Android Auto-compatible vehicle or aftermarket radio and an Android phone running 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher," says Google. "When you connect your Android phone to the compatible vehicle or radio, Android Auto will display applications on the vehicle's screen."
However, this will change with the latest partnership with Qualcomm, which aims at embedding Android OS directly in a car's infotainment system. The initiative will allow vehicle makers to create infotainment systems with Android as a common platform, which will make it easier to connect other services and applications to the car.
During the 2016 Google I/O, the company also demonstrated a car that ran on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 Automotive processor, which was connected to the vehicle's infotainment system. Google displayed a Maserati with the concept infotainment system with Android Auto. The car had a big 4K touchscreen in place of the usual console and another 720p display located where the speedometer is usually is.
"Car manufacturers, automotive suppliers and developers can create Android-powered infotainment solutions using Automotive Development Platforms (ADP) for Snapdragon 820A and Snapdragon 602A processors," says a joint press release. "The ADPs, available for purchase through Intrinsyc, will provide access to the platform for developing, testing, optimizing and showcasing next-generation infotainment solutions."
The platform will significantly reduce software development time for system integrators, developers and OEMs.
Patrick Brady, the director of Android engineering at Google says that the partnership will Qualcomm will help in building powerful car infotainment systems intended for the digital age. Nakul Duggal, the vice president of product management at Qualcomm also commended the partnership.
Stand-alone Android Auto embedded in a car means that carmakers will have to redesign their dashboard. It remains to be seen if auto companies are willing to work with Google to change the interiors of their cars to accommodate Android Auto.