At this year’s CES, the three companies, Panasonic, Qualcomm, and Google are taking Android to new places. Instead of just running phones or being mirrored on a car’s screen, the companies are showing off a standalone in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system that runs on the Android 7.0 Nougat operating system. The system includes everything to make it operational in a car, including the hardware, LTE modem, and the operating system.
Car manufacturers could purchase the system, then customize it with desired appearance and features. Think of it as how different phone companies, such as Samsung and HTC, have proprietary interfaces but still run on the same types of Android OS. Tom Gebhardt from Panasonic also says the system will be more future-proof, with the potential for “features beyond that of the next two IVI generations.” This would certainly reassure buyers that their car’s infotainment won’t be outdated within a couple of years. At the show, a demo will show how the system will be able to control apps that run on Android as well as vehicle systems such as the climate control.
A few year’s ago, it was reported that Google was developing a vehicle infotainment system that could access vehicle sensors and diagnostic equipment, recognizing things such as fuel level. If this system or a future version has this ability, it could both display information, such as fuel level, and even act on it. Perhaps it could use Google Maps and a gas price app to find the nearest and cheapest gas stations when it detects you’re nearly out of gas.
Additionally, Panasonic says this system has the ability to process video and support multiple screens. This could be a boon for in-car entertainment, possibly allowing each person access to a screen to stream movies or surf the web. Each person could adjust the car’s audio from their own screen, too.
We can also see the popularity of an Android-based system also leading to much simpler infotainment systems. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are among the easiest to use touchscreen interfaces on the market. If an Android IVI were to proliferate to most car manufacturers, our days of griping about complex and ugly OEM infotainment could be over.