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CES 2014 to Spark Android vs. iOS In-Car Battle

Source:   Author:   Time:2014-01-15 11:03:56

Junko Yoshida

Google to announce industry consortium connecting phones with cars

MADISON, Wis. — The Android vs. iOS apps battle is coming to the automotive industry in 2014.

The fireworks are about to begin between the two software giants, as the automobile platform is becoming the next big thing for app developers traditionally engaged in designing software for mobile phones.

Google will come to Las Vegas next month at the International Consumer Electronics Show, ready to roll out the company´s response to Apple´s iOS in the Car.

In addition to Android in the Car, the announcement will involve the formation of an industry consortium and the adoption of communication standards, EE Times has learned. Google´s goal, presumably, is to make it easier for developers to design apps for cars.

After all, car OEMs aren´t exactly known for their skills in developing apps, while no app developers in their right mind would want to develop so many different versions of an app separately -- for Ford, General Motors, BMW, and Toyota.

Details are still sketchy. But there is every reason for stakeholders to come together, as the in-vehicle applications have gone digital.

Who will control in-car UI?

At issues, though, is who will control the user interface for cars -- iPhone apps, Android apps, or carmakers -- and more important, who delivers the best UI in a safe, appropriate mode to drivers.

"iOS in the Car is definitely a game changer," said Dan Loop, business development manager, automotive applications processors for Freescale Semiconductors, in a recent interview with EE Times. He explained that the goal of working with a software company like Apple would be to bring iPhone screen, and apps running in iPhones, to the "infotainment" system in a car. For that, "You need system-level integrations in cars."

The same applies to Android. Google is planning to use Miracast, a peer-to-peer wireless screencasting standard formed via WiFi Direct, to display apps running on Android phones on an in-car infotainment screen. But of course, Loop noted, that assumes that WiFi signals are present inside a car.

There´s no question that the mobile devices consumers are bringing into their cars are redefining in-car infotainment.

But compatibility issues between cars and mobile devices loom large.

In an interview with EE Times, Danny Shapiro, automotive director for Nvidia, asked, "Do carmakers want to test all the phones? Or do phone companies want to test all the cars?" Probably not.

A host of new mobile apps can offer services useful to drivers. A parking finder app in your mobile phone, for example, can be integrated with an in-car navigation system, said Shapiro. The hitch is that, while driving, you can´t keep consulting your mobile phone to find out what the app says.

Mobile phones can be placed in a cradle in a car or connected to an in-car display using either wired or wireless solutions.

However, just mirroring a handset screen in an in-car display might not be the safest solution, either, said Shapiro. Under the "eyes-on-the-road, hands-on-the-wheel" principle, drivers probably need a user interface that offers necessary information quickly, handlessly, and sightlessly, Shapiro explained.

While "the user interface of your cellphones is designed to get 100 percent of your attention," this is a dangerous scenario in a car, he noted. "Drivers want to just glance down on the screen to make a quick decision."

Apple is known for its ambition to define a user interface in cars with its iOS in the Car. There have also been reports that "Apple wants to own your car´s console with Maps and Siri integration."

Some car OEMs are cooperating with Apple, while others are developing their own approaches. Audi, for example, facilitates access to data on phone, while also allowing access to the cloud with real-time traffic and parking information, said Shapiro.

On one hand, automakers in search of next-generation cars are depending on hardware to deliver Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. On the other, they´re increasingly aware that software is dictating the future of in-vehicle infotainment systems, observed Freescale´s Loop. Whether the product is speech or gesture recognition, better communication with maps on the navigating system, or better integration between a car and a smartphone, automotive OEMs need software to tie it all together.

Even if car OEMs aren´t exactly experts on apps development, they can be smart about developing "apps and ecosystems that can really add value to their brand experience," said Drue Freeman, senior vice president for global automotive sales and marketing at NXP Semiconductors.

 

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