Wearable computers are expected to become the next battlefield for Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating system war, but what if we've all been duped by the hype on smartwatches and Google Glass? A new report in the Wall Street Journal suggests the next tech battlefront might actually be waged inside the car.
If you take a look at the current landscape of car infotainment centers, you'll find a complicated mess. Every car maker has its proprietary system that is usually clunky and unpleasant. Why can't these systems work more like iPhones and Android smartphones and run apps that are well-designed and don't make you want to slam the car horn?
Apple's "iOS in the Car," first announced at WWDC in June, is the first step towards a smart car experience that doesn't stink. But as is the case with all car tech, the march towards a launch has been a slow one; no doubt due to the stringent safety regulations and testing that are required.
Apple's solution works like this: when an iPhone is plugged into a car, drivers will have access to Siri to bring up maps, answer and make phone calls, play music and send and receive messages — all hands-free, so their eyes stay where they should be: on the road.
According to the Wall Street Journal's report, starting with an Audi partnership, Google will take a slightly different approach to worming Android into the car. The idea is the same: "to allow drivers and passengers to access music, navigation, apps and services that are similar to those widely available on Android-powered smartphones." But the integration will be different: Google and its car partners will work together to make Android run on "the car's own built-in hardware."
If that sounds like deja vu all over again; that's because it is. Android's biggest problem since day one has always been fragmentation: hundreds of different devices with different specs all running Android at different performance. The result (as put by Apple and its supporters) is an experience that is forked and difficult to scale elegantly when it comes to timely software updates.
Will Google repeat history again? It's difficult to say, but with a smaller pool of cars hopping off assembly lines compared to the endless number of new smartphones sold every day, Google may have an easier time keeping fragmentation much lower in cars.