Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The Android - iOS war will be coming to a car near you, in 2014

If you think Apple is too far ahead of Google in terms of car technology -- and based on how well iOS integrates with current in-dash tech, it's a common perception -- that may not be the case, after all. On Monday, Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance, a "global alliance of technology and auto industry leaders committed to bringing the Android platform to cars starting in 2014."

At the time of launch, the members of the OAA include GM, Audio, Hyundai, Honda, NVIDIA and, of course, Google.

This places Android and iOS at odds again. Last June, when it unveiled iOS 7, Apple announced an upcoming iOS feature it dubbed iOS in the Car. iDevice users will be able to connect their devices to compatible in-car dashboard systems and go far further than can currently be done, including accessing maps, the phone, messaging, music (natch) and even more.

These features have not yet been released, but Apple says they're "coming soon" and developers are currently working with iOS 7.1 beta builds, which could be the release to include the functionality. During its iOS in the Car unveiling, Apple announced the following automotive partners that are already known to be committed to offering iOS in the Car support: Honda; Mercedes-Benz; Nissan; Ferrari; Infiniti; Kia; Hyundai; Volvo; Acura; Jaguar; Opel; and Chevrolet.

It's interesting that Honda and Chevrolet (a GM division) appear to be willing to support both platforms.

While iOS in the Car has not yet reached fruition, manufacturers are not waiting to introduce features tied to the world's best-selling single handset. For example, Chevrolet's Sonic and Spark models both offer Siri Eyes Free, which allows drivers to push a button on their steering wheels to access some iOS-based voice commands.

Working with Google might give these partners a leg up on those who work with Apple. After all, Android is open-source and that could mean direct integration of Android into in-car systems.

All this integration means more distraction for drivers, though, and although neither the DOT or the NHTSA has made any explicit moves, the U.S. has recommended a curb on in-car -- and in-motion -- distractions.

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