Android Auto partner Audi will also offer Apple CarPlay

Android Auto partner Audi will integrate Apple's CarPlay system inside future cars in addition to support for the Android in car system.


Cars matter, platforms don't

“Our customers want to be ‘always on’ and use the services they know from their smartphones in cars as well,” says Prof. Ulrich Hackenberg, Board Member for Technical Development at AUDI AG.

“In this regard, we are working closely with leading companies like Google and Apple. In the future, customers will be able to use the functions available to them on their smartphones via the operating systems in their cars as well.

The news confirms a January promise from Audi executive, Ricky Hudi, who said:

"We do not leave the Apple devices out. We are also in discussion with Apple to integrate it in the same way."


[ABOVE: Small detail from a comparative chart contrasing CarPlay versus Google Auto support based on published statements. You can see the whole thing here.]

Drive by

Audi joins a host of manufacturers who've signed-up to deploy CarPlay, though it is one of the last posh car brands to signal its intent: Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota already promise or deliver support for Apple's system.

What is interesting is that Audi was the only premium automotive manufacturer to be a founding member of the Google-supported Open Automotive Alliance when it launched earlier this year. This has spawned support for Android Auto, announced at Google I/O yesterday.

It's no great surprise Google and Apple are both driving in the same direction when it comes to vehicle integration, though one big difference between the two will be in just how much of your personal data either firm harvests in exchange for using their system. There's little doubt Google will exploit such data in any way it sees fit, with a focus on advertising and data collection/provision for Big Data-focused smart city traffic analysis.

It's possible some level of consent will need to be made for either platform to exploit these connected opportunities. Audi's Hackenberg notes: "We are separating the vehicle-related functions from the infotainment features, thereby securing the data against unauthorized access. The customer has to give express consent for the use of data generated in the vehicle."

Google drives ahead?

Integration of CarPlay is also taking place through intensive dialog between the Audi development lab in Silicon Valley and Apple.

Although neither system is truly expected to hit market until later this year, at present Google seems to have reached deals with many more automotive and tech firms than Apple to support the system.

Logically, it's very unlikely any auto manufacturer will want to be 100% committed to either mobile platform. How this will play out is that Apple will announce deals with most hold-out car brands on Sept. 19, when it is rumored it will introduce the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 -- and tell us a little more about CarPlay and Beats support. No doubt, Google will make a similar announcement around then.

Platform agnosticism is likely

For most of us it won't matter. Audi will support both platforms, meaning that when you get into your car you'll be able to use both supported iOS and Android devices quite happily. That's likely how most vehicle brands will work integration.

Bear in mind that Android users will be less likely to own devices that support Android Auto, given the majority use phones based on old versions of the OS. In contrast, the majority of iPhone users shouldn't have any problem at all as the iOS platform is much less fragmented.

Apple has also quietly added support for Beats Music to CarPlay.

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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