Apple, Google Are Vying To Connect Your Car

Feb 23, 2015 08:30 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma

Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker Ford may have the right idea when it comes to integrating connected car technology into its lineup.

For in-vehicle systems, Ford will have both Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay available on every model sold in the United States by the end of 2016, the New York Times reported.

Ford's own Sync system may have been a flop, but at least the automaker wants to ensure that customers are buying based on the car, not the connection. 

"We don't want people to have to make a vehicle choice based on which mobile phone they have," Don Butler, Ford's executive director for connected vehicles and services, told the Times. "We want to accommodate all customers and their devices."

Initially, the Android Auto project had a core set of carmakers, including General Motors, Audi, Honda and Hyundai; the group has since grown to around two dozen auto brands that plan to offer the software.

Android Auto and CarPlay work by connecting a smartphone to the car with a USB cord; the phone screen becomes dark, while phone calls, music and other options show up on the vehicle's infotainment display.

Engineers designed the systems to help keep consumers from having to look at their phones.

"We looked at what people do with their phones in the car, and it was scary," Andrew Brenner, who heads Google's Android Auto team, told the Times. "You want to say to them, 'Yikes, no, don't do that.'"

Android Auto aims to stick to the voluntary guidelines proposed in 2012 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which asked automakers to limit the number of manual inputs needed on devices and design systems so no action takes more than 2 seconds.

"Things that we don't show are just as important as what we do show," Brenner told the Times.

To keep it more streamlined, Android Auto foregoes the "back" and "recent" options typically on an Android smartphone, while Google Maps features bigger fonts and simpler street depictions for the car version. Video streams and most social media aren't allowed on Android Auto, while drivers can only send a text with a voice command.

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