Rather than sticking with the widely used CarPlay and Android Auto, automakers are aiming to reinvent the in-car experience. GM has decided to do away with Android Auto and CarPlay completely, while Ford is going in a different direction by launching a new in-car operating system that is built on Android Automotive. In addition to giving consumers the ability to plug in their phones, Ford’s system gives automakers additional customization options for the driving experience.
Ford’s New In-Car OS: 48-Inch Android Display
Android Automotive is an embedded version of Android intended to run directly on the car’s infotainment systems, in contrast to Android Auto and CarPlay, which operate as mirroring systems with the phone managing connectivity and computation.
With this connectivity, manufacturers can customize the user experience more easily and still have access to well-known services and apps like Google Assistant and Maps.
Ford’s use of Android Automotive is particularly sophisticated, with two screens. The first is a conventional center console with a “small” 11.1-inch screen, and the second is a large 48-inch screen that surrounds the driver’s and front passenger’s seats on the dashboard.
With 4K resolution, the panoramic screen runs on the Unreal Engine. Ford highlights how fully customizable the system is, including driver recognition, allowing for various layouts based on personal preferences. For instance, a driver may emphasize the music controls, tire pressure, map, and weather, while another may want a less distracting configuration.
Ford’s Elaborate Implementation of Android
With its own 5G connection, the car will be able to stream, download, and upgrade its operating system over the air with ease. Ford notes that customers still have the option to use the traditional CarPlay and Android Auto connections, which are mostly operated via the center console screen.
On the other hand, objects such as maps can be projected onto the 48-inch panorama. Interestingly, Ford intends to allow Android Auto and CarPlay to exchange data with its electric cars, providing precise navigation and battery statistics.
Future Trends: In-Car Autonomy and Personalization
It’s interesting to note that, contrary to popular belief in 2024, Ford does not refer to “artificial intelligence” in its marketing materials for the new infotainment system. The mid-range SUV starting at $50,000, the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus, serves as a showpiece for the system.
Ford plans to introduce the new in-car experience to more cars by the year 2024; model-specific differences in terms of design and screen layouts should be anticipated. The presentation of a Lincoln, for instance, might not always mirror the design of a Ford Lightning.
This change in in-car operating systems portends a trend toward further personalization and autonomy for both drivers and automakers. Ford’s creative approach, which combines twin displays and a wide range of customisation choices with Android Automotive, is a prime example of how in-car technology is developing and opens the door to more advanced and customized driving experiences.