’s already shown us Android Auto on the phone, as well as some of the new features that’ll come stard with the next version of the in-car infotainment platform. But Mountain View isn’t stopping there. is currently working on an SDK that bakes Android directly into a car’s dashboard, so that auto car manufacturers can use the OS for not just navigation communication, but also traditional car functions, like climate control… butt massaging.
I got to see it all in action at I/O.
I sat inside a luxurious, air-conditioned Maserati Ghibli to experience how hopes Android N Android Auto can work in conjunction with one another. There’s no official name for the software, nor is there is a launch date. But it’s a neat concept that could do wonders for propagating the Android platform beyond just smartphones tablets.
Android Auto currently requires that you have a compatible receiver installed inside your car’s dashboard a smartphone running the app. But this concept is intended for any manufacturer to use as the car’s native infotainment platform.
The software is essentially an amalgamation of Android N Android Auto. This version of Android N offers native support for things like AM/FM radio, HVAC, Bluetooth calling media streaming, multi-channel audio, digital instrument clusters. Meanwhile, Android Auto does the heavy lifting in running applications.
The interface appears as if it’s split in two. More than half of it uses Android Auto’s cards motif, while the remaining portion offers switches for features like air conditioning, seat warmers, power windows, even a seat massager—a feature I had no idea even existed until I sat inside the Ghibli.
There’s also a second display behind the steering wheel that offers supplementary information, like how fast you’re going how much gas you’ve got left in the tank. The idea is that you shouldn’t have to glance away from the road to see the song you’re playing or where Maps wants you to turn next.
The concept software inside the Ghibli was shown on a 15-inch 4K touchscreen embedded in the center of the console. The smaller display behind the steering wheel is 720p, everything runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 Automotive processor. said it will allow manufacturers to choose display sizes, what features are implemented, that it’s merely providing Android as a starting point for a distraction-free, auto-friendly operating system.
I loved the idea of having Android baked into the car, but I have some reservations about how this particular software will actually function when it comes to fruition. First off, notice that the screen produces a lot of glare. Beyond that, I like having mechanical dials in front of me. This much information behind the wheel seems too distracting.
Then there’s the issue of real-world use— whether we want all our controls relegated to touch input. Right now, if I need to adjust the air conditioning in my car, I just reach down to turn the nob without taking my eyes off the road. I know that when I turn that dial to the right, I’m increasing the temperature. But with a touchscreen, you have to physically look down to ensure that your finger is dragging tapping the appropriate switch.
Regardless, at this point in time, this particular Android concept is just that—nothing more than a concept. doesn’t have a timeline for when the software will go live, though we’ll likely hear more about it in the next year once the company signs on with some major car manufacturers. Android’s in-car implementation will be decided by the car makers, here’s to hoping they choose a nice marriage of distraction-free form function.