In the latest Android Compatibility Definition Document, or CDD, Google included details of the requirements for usage of a previously unseen implementation of Android, Android Automotive.
Interestingly, Google already has an app in place to use Android on compatible cars, Android Auto. However, Android Auto is just an app that can be installed on another Android device, allowing it to screencast to the car’s screen via USB, like connecting a laptop to an external monitor. As this runs on an existing Android platform, it would have no place in the CDD, as it would have all the same compatibilities and requirements as the Android OS hosting it.
This draws the conclusion that Android Automotive is a version of the Android OS that would run directly on the cars hardware and be installed from the factory by the manufacturer. Additionally, its presence in the CDD hints that there would also be a version of the Google Play store and other apps designed specifically to run on car hardware. If this is true, it would make Android Automotive the fourth version of Android, after Android for phone and tablet, Android TV and Android Wear.
This raises the question of whether Android Automotive will simply be an extension of the Android Auto app, adapted to run natively on the car, which certain sections of the CDD seem to support, requiring on a software home button, much like Android Auto. It’s not like Android running on a car is anything new, but most cars running Android on their dashboard systems use far from up-to-date versions of the OS, raising security concerns. In order for Android to offer a truly viable car offering, certain issues that have continually plagued the popular mobile OS such as start up times would have to be tackled, and maybe Google have taken so long to offer an official car OS to address them.
So, are you ready for your car to become as smart as your phone?