Google knows that the next big platform war is going to take place behind the wheel, and it won't necessarily need Android phones as a Trojan horse. A new report says the company has plans to integrate its operating system directly into vehicles in 2015.
According to Reuters, Google wants Android to become the primary OS for your car's infotainment system, which would allow drivers to get instant access to various services via a built-in Internet connection. The report also claims that Google would be able to make more use of a car's camera, sensors, fuel gauge and more.
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A direct competitor to Apple's CarPlay initiative, Google's Android Auto program currently requires an Android handset plugged into your car to take advantage of its maps and directions, voice recognition, and apps like Pandora, Spotify, WhatsApp and MLB.com. Google has signed up 28 Android Auto partners thus far, including Acura, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen.
As Reuters notes, having Android baked into vehicles could provide Google with a treasure trove of driver data that could be used for advertising. According to one source, this info includes "GPS location, where you stop, where you travel everyday, your fuel level, where you stop for gas." Imagine if Android Auto could tell you that Android Auto customers have 15 percent off today at Exxon stations during your commute.
Integrating Android into cars won't necessarily be easy for Google, as it will need to convince automakers that its technology is responsive enough for patience-challenged drivers. More important, the top vehicle brands may see Android as a threat to differentiating their rides, especially as more and more shoppers prioritize technology features.
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Mark Spoonauer is the Editor in Chief of Tom's Guide. Follow him at @mspoonauer. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.
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