Google set to invade the world's cars

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IOL mot jun26 android auto AP An Android employee gives a demonstration of Android Auto at the Google developer conference. Note that the demo car is a Hyundai, although nobody at either Hyundai or Google has referred to forthcoming Hyundai models having the new system. Picture: Jeff Chiu

San Francisco, California - Android software is coming to cars, televisions and watches this year, as Google races against Apple and other tech companies to extend its business into a rapidly broadening field of Internet-connected devices.

At its annual developers' conference on 24 June, Google said the first cars running Android Auto software for navigation, music and messaging would be in showrooms later in 2014.

"We are beginning to evolve our platforms beyond mobile," Android and Chrome teams chief Sundar Pichai said of how Google's twin operating systems are being adapted to work with one another and with new types of computing hardware.

Google's goal, according to Pichai, is to have its software serve as the foundation for applications, services or digital content delivered seamlessly across the increasingly diverse array of Internet-linked screens in people's lives.

SYNCHING SMARTPHONES WITH CARS

A new LG G smartwatch and a freshly-announced Gear Live smartwatch by Samsung - each working with the "Android Wear" platform - debuted Wednesday at the online shop Google Play.

IOL mot pic jun26 Android Auto 2 If you have an Android-based smartphone, you'll feel right at home in the new Volvo XC90.

Google is also giving televisions "the same level of attention that phones and tablets have enjoyed," according to Android engineering director Dave Burke.

Android smartphones, complete with voice command features, could be used to direct searches and more on television screens, and games from the Google Play shop could also be played on televisions.

Android Auto software for cars, synching smartphones with in-dashboard screens and controls, is being shared with more than 40 car companies that have already signed on to the Open Auto automakers. It brings apps such as Google Search, Google Maps and Spotify music service to an "interface built for driving."

ALL-NEW VOLVO XC90

One of the first to be seen in public will be the all-new Volvo XC90, due to debut at the Paris motor show in September - and Volvo says all its future models based on the new Scalable Product Architecture, will have it.

Volvo president says Håkan Samuelsson the interaction between Android Auto developers and Volvo engineers has transformed the look and feel of the car's interior.

IOL mot pic jun26 Android Auto 3 Interaction between Android Auto developers and Volvo engineers has transformed the look and feel of the XC90 interior.

"We have worked hard to give customers a new degree of fluidity and accessibility in using their mobile devices, bringing the digital ecosystem they already enjoy, into the car," he said.

SAFE AND EASY

"All phone-based applications can be controlled by voice or steering wheel controls, or the car's touch screen, so that working with Android Auto is both safe and easy."

The new Volvo portrait-format touch screen can display both Volvo and Android content at the same time, obviating the need to switch between car and Android phone screens.

Samuelsson said: "If you have an Android Smartphone, you'll feel at home in a new Volvo, especially with the large portrait-oriented touch screen."

Reuters, AFP and IOL Motoring Staff



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