Tech and Auto: An Affair to Watch
From smartphone mirroring solutions to car operating systems, we take a look at how big tech and automotive manufacturers are coming together for connected vehicles.
General Motors (GM) and Microsoft, Ford and Google. Giants in the tech and automotive industry are coming together to transform our road trips, joy rides, and daily commutes.
Ford and Google recently announced a six-year strategic partnership, with Google’s Android Automotive OS the primary operating system in new Ford and Lincoln vehicles starting 2023. In that same year, Ford vehicles will roll out an in-car version of the Google Play Store, where car owners can download apps.
The two companies will also form a collaborative group, Team Upshift, to develop new consumer services and experiences powered by Android Automotive. In addition, Google Cloud will be the preferred cloud provider of the U.S. automotive manufacturer.
GM and self-driving car company Cruise have entered into a long-term strategic partnership with Microsoft to accelerate the commercialization of self-driving vehicles. The companies will collaborate on cloud computing capabilities, software and hardware engineering, manufacturing, and partner ecosystem.
GM and Cruise have chosen Microsoft to be their preferred cloud provider, leveraging Azure, the company’s cloud and edge computing platform, to “accelerate its digitization initiatives, including collaboration, storage, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.”
Let’s take a closer look at why love is in the air for carmakers and tech companies--and what it means for both everyday consumers and industry giants.
Smartphone mirroring: Android Auto and CarPlay
The smartphone has transformed the way we live, giving us information and entertainment that is personalized, simple, and immediate. The ease of use and customization that we’ve come to expect from smartphones has colored the way we evaluate other user interfaces--including the ones in our vehicles.
Smartphones are ubiquitous--and now they’re in your car.
Tech giants Google and Apple have designed in-vehicle interfaces that let you interact with your smartphone through your car’s touch screen infotainment system. Once you’ve connected your phone to your vehicle’s infotainment system, you can make calls, navigate unfamiliar streets, issue voice commands, and listen to your favorite music.
CarPlay works with iPhones running iOS 7.1 or newer. More than 600 auto models from over 65 car brands support CarPlay. Most of its features can be accessed through Siri. It also supports third-party audio, messaging, and voice apps, as well as third-party parking, EV charging, and quick-food ordering apps.
Android Auto is for Android phone users. If your phone is running on Android OS versions 10 and above, Android Auto is baked into your operating system. If not, you’ll have to download the Android Auto app from the Google Play Store. With Google Assistant, you can make calls, use Google Maps, and send and receive messages. Over 500 car models and 30 stereo brands support Android Auto.
Here’s a video comparing Android Auto and CarPlay.
Modeled after its open-source mobile OS, Android Automotive by Google is an infotainment system that is built into vehicles. With Android Automotive, you no longer need a phone. Apart from messaging, music playback, and navigation, the OS can control vehicle-specific functions like climate control and audio levels.
Polestar 2, the luxury electric vehicle (EV) from Volvo, is the first car in the world to have Android Automotive.
Here’s a video demonstrating the features of this in-vehicle operating system.
Because it is a “full-stack, open source, highly customizable platform powering the infotainment experience,” it unlocks an ecosystem of vehicle-centered apps that automakers and their partners can develop. The possibilities of creating personalized connectivity features are endless.
Big Tech in your car: what it means for the automotive industry
Vehicle touch screens duplicate smartphone content. Automotive operating systems are built into vehicles. These two advancements, coupled with the expansion of 5G wireless technology, have created a digital hub for the connected vehicle--paving the way for autonomous driving.
Connectivity is the catalyst for digital transformation in the automotive industry, and the stakes are high. What strategies are car manufacturers taking in the battle for connected vehicles?
Companies such as Ford and GM are going for partnerships with Big Tech. This approach prevents large investments and makes up for missing competencies--all while delivering cutting-edge technology. The drawback? Growing reliance on the tech industry.
Others are defending their castle with a counterstrike. The Volkswagen Group is developing its own operating system for autonomous vehicles, forming Car.Software.Org, a unit about 5,000-strong tasked with developing the VW.OS operating system. This reflects the company’s willingness to invest heavily in software development, challenging Big Tech’s core competencies.
A middle ground is GENIVI Alliance, which has brought together companies in the automotive, software, consumer electronics, and application development industries. Having successfully completed its initial mission of delivering “an open, Linux-based in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) platform”, it now aims to
- integrate multiple operating systems in the central and connected vehicle cockpit
- enhance vehicle connectivity to the cloud
- promote a common vehicle data model and standard service catalog.
The global automotive software market size is projected to grow from USD 16.9 billion in 2020 to USD 37.0 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 16.9%. According to the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility, around 95% of new vehicles sold globally in 2030 will be connected, up from about 50% today.
Software is transforming vehicle capabilities, enabling electrification, advanced driver-assistance systems, intuitive infotainment, and autonomous driving abilities. Today’s consumer expects a wide range of connectivity features and a seamless, personalized, and intuitive user experience.
The race for supremacy in connected vehicles is on, and it will be interesting to see who crosses the finish line first.
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