back to article Forget Google's robot cars, now it's on to ANDROID cars

Google is planning a big push into in-car infotainment systems with an upcoming version of Android, sources claim. "Android M" – the version to come after the current Android 5.0 "Lollipop" – will be available in a formulation designed specifically to run cars' built-in screens, Reuters reports, citing anonymous insiders with …

  1. AMBxx Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    No chance

    Sorry, but have google tracking me in my car too? Then they do an OS update and my car stops working?

    Hopefully, BB's QNX will grab some more manufacturers.

    1. Christian Berger

      Re: No chance

      Actually both QNX and Android are probably much better than the junk that's currently used. I mean there are systems like "Nucleus" aka "I loose 512 bytes RAM on every DNS query" out there.

      Of course what would be ideal would be a small and simple operating system that just does its job. I neither see that with ONX or Android and particularly not Nucleus.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No chance

      I agree. Having Android actually running in a car, especially if it had access to a GPS would be an instant no sale for me. No way I trust Google not to track me and use the information for their own purposes, that's their whole business model. They'd love to sell information that would let someone email coupons for Dairy Queen to the car's registered owner because it was in the DQ drive thru three times last month.

      Of course that sort of abuse can be done with any OS made by any vendor. This might be a place where we need the government to step in with some tight regulations to nip any clever ideas in the bud before they get started.

      The other reason I'd object to Android is security. Having security holes in a phone is one thing, you can live with that because the potential damage is mainly inconvenience. Security holes in a car could literally be a matter of life and death. What would ISIS do if they discovered a way to cause the throttle to be opened wide, the brakes to be disabled, the transmission locked and the start/stop button disabled in every drive by wire car in the US? Yeah, the infotainment system should be isolated from all that stuff, but it isn't today and things will only get worse with the proposals for dropping the CAN bus for ethernet in autos.

      Give me a microkernel like QNX, or maybe a stripped down purpose built Linux kernel like the article mentions. Build a car that runs Android, or worse, Windows, and you'll never sell it to me or any of my friends after I explain to them why it is a terrible idea.

      1. getHandle

        Re: No chance

        Calm down dear, it's just the infotainment systems!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          I guess you haven't heard about the recent hack of a car with a smart infotainment system that allowed controlling all the systems onboard. Do you really trust that there would be an impenetrable wall between the two? You can bet the infotainment programmers would, so they'd say "security doesn't matter, the worst thing that happens if it is hacked is you need to take it to a dealer to have it re-flashed".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes Please

      having used a sorry excuse for a Pioneer double-din DAB reciever/bluetooth stereo in my car that cost £300, I cant wait for something that's Android powered for the aftermarket.

      You can already buy cheap chinese Android 4.4 based systems that are pretty decent. None of them have DAB sadly, and this was my main requirement, or I would have bought one of these and cooked my own custom ROM for it.

      1. Christian Berger

        Re: Yes Please

        "having used a sorry excuse for a Pioneer double-din DAB reciever/bluetooth stereo in my car that cost £300, I cant wait for something that's Android powered for the aftermarket."

        Actually if you have a double-din slot, you can install one of the many car PC concepts and run just about any operating system you'd like. With, for example Lazarus, one could write a little software package which does all the GUI stuff which would run on normal operating systems as well as Android.

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Another vote for QNX

    I just can't be doing with the idea of everything being uploaded to the Google mothership and the car's battery going flat in less than a day.

    1. ratfox
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Another vote for QNX

      Silly. The power consumption needed for such a system is nothing compared to the A/C or the headlights.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Another vote for QNX

        See icon.

  3. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    One little sentence...

    ... buried in the mix:

    "It could also provide Google with a brand-new treasure trove of data to feed to its ravenous search and analytics engines."

    Substitute "could" for "will" and you're pretty much there. Although the way things are going, it's a fairly safe bet that anyone providing an OS for this sort of purpose would end up data mining it.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    The EU will love this one... buy a car and then Google change their T&C's halfway through it's life with the agreement that you can carry on using it and accept these changes or stop using your car. No joke icon, just because

    1. Bloakey1

      Re: The EU will love this one...

      Also they will sell your driving data to insurance companies, the police etc. When your ECU detects an issue with a component, you will be inundated with targeted ads for said product. When your wife wants to know where you were that night you came home smelling of O̶l̶d̶ ̶t̶r̶o̶u̶t̶ another ladies perfume, she will know where to go to get your location details, time on site etc.

      Surveillance by default all that would be missing is a collar and tag, one that gives you a shock when you are being to individual.

    2. kiwimuso

      Re: The EU will love this one...

      @ Lost all faith...

      Or even worse. they'll do a Microsoft on you.

      I'm sorry, we are no longer supporting your operating system as we have a much newer 'better' one. You will need to upgrade your vehicle to the next model.

      This will make your car unusable or at risk of hacker attacks.


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sooo... the event your car looses all power, finally grinds to a halt, you simply factory reset it, remove your battery for 10 ,minutes, do a little dance, and then reload all your content again (that seems to be the stock answer for every problem you get on a phone these days).

  6. Fuzz


    rather than this sort of crap we need manufactures to develop standardised systems for cars.

    Cars built today will likely run for 10-15 years, probably more. Is an Android going to be the best choice for in car entertainment in that amount of time?

    The entertainment systems fitted to cars need to be upgradeable in a standard way, like they used to be.

    Make the amplifier separate. Then the system itself can be a black box hidden away somewhere with standard connectors for power, control and display.

    1. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: crap

      "rather than this sort of crap we need manufactures to develop standardised systems for cars."

      Trouble is, Android is a proven system for what they want to do; it has all the basic O/S functionality for touch and voice driven UI and handling mobile communications as well as lots of applications for navigation and other stuff that consumers might want like finding things using internet searches with location services to help (where's the nearest petrol station type questions).

      The alternative is to try and build all this themselves, and do it faster than their competitors so as not to get killed in the market. Looking at how successful other companies have been at developing this level of functionality (e.g. Nokia) they would be insane to even contemplate doing it themselves.

      Their viable alternatives are:

      Android - Googles walled garden (low cost and low walls)

      IOS - Apples walled garden (higher cost and walls)

      Windows Mobile - Microsoft's walled patch of grass that might become a nice garden if they keep at it long enough and resist the urge to implement SharePoint on it (thanks Stob).

      Which would you choose if it was your arse/money?

      1. Fuzz

        Re: crap

        Sure, I have no problem with the "black box" part in my example running Android but if I don't like that bit or it's no longer the best system for the job I should be able to pull it and replace it with something I do like without having to take a hacksaw to the dashboard of my car, and without losing the integration into the handsfree microphone, heads up display, steering wheel controls etc.

        This is going to become more important over time. For years stereos in cars had radio and tape or if you were lucky a CD player and that was fine. Then music changed and everyone had mp3 so there was ipod integration which generally stopped working as iOS changed. There's 3.5mm inputs but the control interface on your phone or mp3 player is crap for use in a car. There's bluetooth but support is patchy, newer stereos have better support but without a standard you're stuck with the one that came with your car.

  7. jake Silver badge

    That's nice.

    Now ask me why I restore & drive pre-1970 vehicles.

    1. MrWibble

      Re: That's nice.

      Because you're poor?

      (Although, as an owner of a '69 VW, I'm poor because I own it, rather than the other way round!)

      1. jake Silver badge

        @MrWibble (was: Re: That's nice.)

        No. Because I don't like the .gov telling me that I'm not allowed to modify engines to be far more efficient, and thus cleaner, from a pollution standpoint.

        My 1970 Mercury Cougar convertible with a 351 Cleveland 4V & 1983 Dolphin Coventry fuel injection system puts out about 650HP, and passes today's 2014 CARB new car emission standards. Every time I have to re-register the old gal, I have to go through major bits & pieces of paperwork EVEN THOUGH the smog machine says that her exhaust is cleaner than your typical new Toyota.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's nice.

      Because you prefer to fix things with a hammer.

      If it moves and shouldn't - gaffer tape; if it doesn't move and it should - WD40.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That's nice.

        Ah, that reminds me of the constructor's credo:

        Measure with a micrometer

        Mark with chalk

        Cut with an axe

        If it doesn't fit, use a larger hammer

        If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway

      2. The last doughnut

        Re: That's nice.

        If it moves, funk it!

        1. Bloakey1

          Re: That's nice.

          "If it moves, funk it!"

          Are you from Wales boyo?

      3. jake Silver badge

        @Lost all faith (was: Re: That's nice.)

        No. Just no.

  8. Christian Berger

    We live in a sad world...

    ...when even QNX looks decent compared to what marketing wants people to have.

  9. Terry 14

    Support life time for android operating systems

    Although, I am not a fan of Microsoft, at least they only have a limited range of operating systems that they support for a reasonable time. The android methodology seems to be to only support an os for a few months; my phone is on a version of android that is three years old, there have been at least three releases of android since my last update and my version does not support all the latest applications.

    This partly due to phone manufacturers heavily customising the android os, but does not help the end user. I know that I can root my phone and install the latest version of android, but why should I need to. Would I really want to do this on a car costing £15K to £20K, when if something goes wrong it could brick it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Support life time for android operating systems

      That's the manufacturer not updating it not, 'Android' or Google. My 2011 media system in my car can't be updated at all. Therefore the nav maps are out of date by about 5+ years. I can't get basic postcode searches for more than the first 5 characters, any points of interest are pretty unreliable after this amount of time.. etc. So now a device that is built in to the car in a custom slot (so can't be upgraded to an aftermarket unit) is getting more useless by the day.

      An android device would, at least, allow over the air upgrades to the devices for a certain period of time and direct security fixes for any major issues, but better than that the apps that run on it such as navigation, poi, speed cameras etc could be upgraded for as long as the developer supports it so you could potentially get app upgrades for 10+ years.

      I can still get new and upgraded apps for an old HTC hero, which is 5 years old with no issues upgrading the maps on the nav program on it.

  10. Old Handle

    Great Idea!

    What could possibly go wrong?

  11. Snar

    Oooh lovely....

    Crappy ads on my dashboard....

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Already happened

    Look at the Infiniti Q50. The infotainment system is running Android.

    Android doesn't get to touch the vehicle control systems

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