It was only a matter of time: Following the launch of Apple's iOS-based CarPlay in-car operating system at the Geneva Motor Show back in March, Google has revealed its own car operating system based on its Android platform. Called Android Auto (previously Auto Link), the new operating system will allow you to seamlessly link up Android devices to your car so that you can use them safely behind the wheel with your car’s own controls.
Like Apple’s CarPlay, Android Auto is not an "embedded" system but a "projected" one—an operating system that uses the operating system of a linked mobile device. It has its own simple and intuitive interface and relies on integrated steering wheel controls and new voice actions, some of which are demonstrated in the video above.
Android Auto automatically brings you useful information, and organizes it into simple cards that appear just when they're needed. In addition to useful map data such as live traffic information and local search, you can now access all your music, contacts and messages while keeping your eyes on the road. There is also an Android Auto software development kit that will allow third-party firms to develop a whole range of new apps for use in the car.
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Android Auto is part of the Open Automotive Alliance, formed at the start of the year, and is a joint effort with 28 different automakers and Google itself. Most brands are there, including those from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F], General Motors Company [NYSE:GM], Renault Nissan and the Volkswagen Group.
Google has announced that Android Auto will be available later this year, but has not said what brands will offer it initially. Apple’s CarPlay has already been confirmed for select Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo models.