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Android Marshmallow could be making its way to a car infotainment OS

The new Android Compatibility Definition Document references an infotainment version of Android that would run directly on a vehicle’s processing hardware.
By
October 23, 2015
2016 Honda Accord with Android Auto™
2016 Honda Accord with Android Auto™

The Android Compatibility Definition Document (ACDD) has already spilled the beans on a few of the latest requirements made on OEMs when they want to use the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system. Ars Technica has been delving deeper into the document and has found references to an automotive infotainment version of the OS that would run directly on a vehicle’s own processing hardware.

What about Android Auto? Well, Android Auto isn’t an operating system, it is a smartphone projection standard. This means that your handset uses an app to broadcast a user interface onto your car’s touchscreen. Therefore, we shouldn’t expect to see any mention of this system within the ACDD.

In total, there are 13 mentions of “Android Automotive” within the document. As you can read from the snippet below, the latest document actual refers to a vehicle head unit running Android itself, which is quite different to Android Auto. Although, some vehicle manufacturers have already something similar with much older versions of Android.

Android Automotive implementation refers to a vehicle head unit running Android as an operating system for part or all of the system and/or infotainment functionality. Android Automotive implementations:
MUST declare the feature android.hardware.type.automotive.
MUST support uiMode = UI_MODE_TYPE_CAR [Resources, 5].

Previous reports have also pointed to an infotainment version of the Android operating system and mention in the ACDD confirm that this type of use is officially supported. There are also references in the document that specify that Android Automotive implementations can optionally chose to support a web browser, as well as back and recent functions, but must include a home button. Apparently the OS only comes with Music, Phone, and Maps apps, making a recent button rather redundant.

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What we still don’t know is exactly how much the automotive operating system would differ from the phone and tablet versions, such as whether it will support the full Play Store or a car optimized version, or if any vehicle manufacturers are currently planning to implement such a system.