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Rumor has it Google’s plans for its vehicle-friendly Android Auto OS are evolving. Rather than existing as a projected software solution that doesn’t offer too much more than feature parity with Apple’s CarPlay, Google’s infotainment ambitions appear to be extending to an embedded solution with an experience more like what we have with Android Wear today.
Putting a smartphone experience in the dash of your car sounds like a dream come true for those of us who prefer something familiar. The truth is, auto manufacturers aren’t used to moving at the insane pace we’ve seen these mobile ecosystem travel at over the last couple of years, and partially with good reason. There isn’t room in an embedded piece of car tech for a + update that accidentally introduces an unsafe experience, which is why the current offerings make it so you can connect your phone to the car and just broadcast a vehicle-friendly experience to the larger screen. This setup seems like the best of both world for most users, and it keeps manufacturers from fiddling with the experience too much.
The report from Reuters claims sources have outlined a more integrated approach for the next version of Android, making it so the car wouldn’t need a direct connection to your phone. If that ends up being true, in order for Google to maintain the level of control it so desperately wants nowadays, the experience will function a great deal like Android Wear.
You’ll have some basic functionality, especially if you are willing/able to pay for standalone data for your vehicle, but the best experience will be when there’s a phone tethered to the vehicle. This setup likely makes it easier to offer a well-rounded experience that supports more than one mobile platform, which is going to be a big one-up over CarPlay if this turns out to be true.
All of this is apparently hinging on the next version of Android, so we won’t even be able to touch it until 2016, but it’s nice to think about as you push the buttons on your currently lame in-car setup and dream of a better way to travel.