updated 01:30 pm EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Forty partners launch Open Auto Alliance, 20 manufacturers making cars
A new "Android Auto" product was unveiled by Google today at its I/O conference. The car-centric branch of Android prioritizes safety and navigation with a large, custom interface with voice control. The implementation links an in-dash screen to an Android phone carried by the user. Android Auto will be available to users with the public "L" release, with 40 partners in the Open Auto Alliance, with the first Android Auto cars being sold later this year.
As expected, Android Auto gives the user access to Google Maps, local search, personalized suggestions, live traffic and turn-by-turn navigation. Voice enabled-messaging allows the user to to both see and hear communications from other users as well as dictate replies to the sender.
Manufacturers newly signed up for the Open Auto program include Alpine, Bentley, Clarion, CloudCar, Delphi, FIAT Chrysler, Freescale, Fujitsu Ten, Harman, Infiniti, Jvckenwood, LG, Maserati, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Panasonic, Parrot, Pioneer, Renault, Renesas, SEAT, Škoda, Subaru, Suzuki, Symphony Teleca, Volkswagen, and Volvo. Much of the gear for Android Auto will also be compatible with Apple's CarPlay technology.
Google announced in parallel with the product that the SDK is immediately available for car-specific apps. Programmers can implement messaging and voice features right now, with future expansion expected. The API is reportedly similar to that of Android Wear.