Google has only this year unveiled its new Android Auto infotainment platform, but already the tech giant is understood to be preparing an even more advanced version.
Revealed in June, Android Auto is positioned as Google’s answer to Apple Carplay - which, when integrated by carmakers into their new models, allows an enhanced level of connectivity between smartphones and the car’s infotainment system.
Among those enhanced functions are Google- or Apple-developed versions of satellite navigation, phone calling and text messaging, entertainment and other features.
All, however, require connectivity with a smartphone in order to work.
According to business paper Reuters, that will change when the next version of Android - already dubbed ‘Android M’ - debuts around this time next year.
The report claims that the the new Android operating system will be able to operate as an installed on-board infotainment system, independent of a smartphone.
While Google’s automotive partners currently develop their own infotainment system and simply build in the option to use Android Auto when a phone is connected, the new arrangement would see Android function as the vehicle’s only on-board infotainment interface.
This means that, as a fully embedded system, the platform’s availability to the driver would not be at the mercy of a charged (or plugged-in) phone, and it would not quit running if - for example - the driver were to leave the stationary car with their phone while passengers continued to enjoy music or video on the dash display.
However, for a carmaker to integrate Android into its on-board systems, we would likely see ‘skinned’ or re-styled versions of the interface, just as Samsung and Sony currently do with their own Android phones.
Likewise, custom Android apps and functions developed specifically by the carmaker could also feature.
Google, for its part, has yet to confirm any plans for a more integrated version of Android in the car.