Google first announced Android Automotive OS (AAOS) way back in early 2017. Although several major automobile manufacturers, including General Motors, Volvo, Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi, partnered with Google to use AAOS to power the infotainment systems, they remained far from mass production and public availability until Volvo launched its cars with the systems for the general public. Volvo and its electric car manufacturer subsidiary Polestar, along with Volvo’s very own XC40 Recharge, are leading the charge to make Google’s Automotive OS publicly available.
What is Android Automotive OS?
For the uninitiated, Android Automotive OS is an Android-based infotainment system that is built into vehicles. AAOS has the potential to turn a car into a stand-alone Android device, and thanks to the Android ecosystem and a wide variety of applications available, AAOS users can install any Android app directly on their cars without the need for a smartphone as an intermediary.
AAOS supports a wide variety of Android applications, including but not limited to media apps, messaging apps, navigation, parking, and charging applications, among others. AAOS is also a fully-featured infotainment system for cars. It allows users to control pretty much everything, such as music, air conditioning, traction control, drive mode, and many more.
Basics of AAOS
Android Automotive OS is not a forked or a parallel developed variant of the Android OS. Instead, AAOS uses the same codebase as that of Android. According to Google, Automotive OS also lives in the same code repository as that of Android, making it efficient, robust, and secure. Moreover, it also inherits features such as developer compatibility, high levels of customization, and the open-source nature allowing several third-party developers to create custom apps for automobiles.
Google has taken several essential components of an automobile such as audio streams, Bluetooth, displays, and inputs into consideration and has developed a modularized yet intuitive OS for automobiles. Google has also taken care of safety by adding only apps that are optimized to not cause any sort of driver distractions. Other safety and usability features, such as extended vision system, flash wear management, and vehicle isolation system, are also an integral part of AAOS.
The big push
Google has been consistently trying to acquire major car manufacturers globally to build AAOS for their cars. Google has also announced that it will be updating its codebase monthly to keep it secure from malware or cyberattacks. Since Google is allowing a cost-free plan for car manufacturers to sign up with them, we can expect several cars in the future rolling out with AAOS.
Into the future
Automotive infotainment is largely fragmented, to say the least. Every car manufacturer now has developed its own custom operating systems, which at times have gone rogue. If we compare the current automotive industry with that of the tablet/smartphone industry half a decade ago, it is safe to assume that it might not play out well. Moreover, the lack of having a centralized app distribution ecosystem among the automobiles further adds to the existing misery. Several aspects, such as application development, support, and security checks that need to be done regularly, further add to the complexity for individual manufacturers to keep up with automotive infotainment operating systems.
Having a secure, reliable, and flawless operating system in the automobile industry ensures a great user experience and contributes to users’ safety. Building such a unified ecosystem to handle the growing number of vehicles while keeping up with the increasing surge of user needs and requirements is not an easy task. However, given the history of Google in proving to be a pioneer in building ecosystems, AAOS seems a safe bet not just for users but also car manufacturers.