South Korean auto maker Hyundai is launching the first car to have the Android Auto software. The system, offered by Google, will premiere on the 2015 Hyundai Sonata in the U.S. and become available later on other Hyundai models. Android Auto helps integrate Android smartphones in car systems in order to improve safety, navigation and entertainment services. To use Android Auto, car owners need to have a phone running Android 5.0 or higher and download the associated app from Google Play. Once the phone is connected to the car with a micro-USB cable, Android apps such as Google Maps, Google Now, messaging, phone calling and Google Play Music will be displayed on the vehicle screen. These applications can be controlled by voice, steering wheel controls and touchscreen. Android Auto also will offer third-party audio apps that owners have on their phones, including iHeartRadio, Spotify, TuneIn, NPR, Stitcher, Skype and TextMe.
We have been seeing more and more connected-car services being offered as a result of partnerships between auto manufacturers and mobile service providers, be they MNOs or other entities. In this case, it is the internet giant Google extending its reach into yet another area where MNOs also compete. Google and Hyundai are claiming that Android Auto promotes safety, keeping drivers’ attention focused on the road by integrating the relevant features of their smartphones with the car’s central screen, physical controls and microphone. Just how effective it will be remains to be seen, but this partnership could easily be a marketing win for two major brands with global reach.