At Google’s annual I/O developer conference on Wednesday, Android laid out plans to introduce an extremely accommodating Google Assistant into cars that will be able to do all sorts of crazy tasks for you. It’s part of a fancy, voice-operated “in-car ecosystem” Android’s working on that can be completely personalized and activated in any Android-compatible vehicle (which they hope will soon be every new car).
The plan builds upon the Android Auto platform, which operates through a car dashboard’s screen once an Android phone is connected. Android Auto projects the functions of a smartphone, but in a format that’s safer and easier to use in a car; for example, you don’t have to navigate through a messy app grid to find common car functions like playing music. The apps on your phone appear via Android’s preset templates that are designed specifically for car usage (it won’t recreate apps that are necessarily visual distractions, like YouTube).
Basically, Android Auto brings your smartphone to your car dashboard in a smooth, safe format. But now it’s going bigger.
Patrick Brady, Android’s Vice President of Engineering, explained that the company is working on making Android Auto “every bit as much an automative platform as it is a mobile platform today.” Eventually, it will be able to operate the car’s AC, doors, windows, sensors, and even parts of its machinery.
How will drivers control these actions? Mostly by voice command. Android described the voice as the car equivalent of a smartphone’s keyboard.
Voice commands will activate Google Assistant, an A.I. voice which will also be able to do things like tell you about your daily schedule and warn you of upcoming traffic. And that’s just the basic stuff: Android hopes that Google Assistant will eventually be able to lock your house doors for you, turn on your house lights, and make dinner reservations at times that are tailored to the distance your car is from the restaurant.
Since this platform is connected to individuals’ smartphones, it’s completely mobile and transferable to other Android-compatible cars. “We want to get to the point where a driver can step into a rental car and have an experience that is personalized and ready to drive,” explained designer AJ Kimbembe.
Cars are already mobile phone on wheels, but as far as Android is concerned, that’s just the beginning.