Every carmaker has seen Ford's success in promoting its Sync technology, and they want a piece of that pie - as do many suppliers. Sync is built on top of a Microsoft-developed software platform and after a couple of years of Ford exclusivity, Kia just announced a similar system called Uvo. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Continental announced its own competing platform for in-car connectivity called Autolinq.
While Microsoft's in-car operating system is completely proprietary, Continental's system is based on the Google's open-source Android OS. Android's popularity is on the rise thanks to cell phones like the new Nexus One and the Motorola Droid. Continental hopes to leverage that community of software developers to create applications that can be downloaded directly to the car. This roughly mirrors Ford's recent announcement that developers will be able to create apps for Sync.
Continental plans to release a software development kit for Autolinq by the end of March, and have applications to demonstrate in the second half of this year. So far, there's no word on any automakers adopting Autolinq for their vehicles.
Continental Demonstrates AutoLinQ™ and Outlines its Plans for Android™ in the Automotive Industry
- Continental demonstrates the first automotive-grade Android-based head unit.
- Continental will release a Software Development Kit (SDK) during the first quarter of 2010 and an application store in the second half of the year.
- With AutoLinQ, the car of the future is "Always On" and able to connect to the world around it in new ways.
Las Vegas, January 5, 2010. During the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show Continental will demonstrate its AutoLinQ™ Connected Services Platform to its automotive customers and consumer electronics partners. As part of the demonstration, the company will debut the world's first automotive-grade head unit capable of downloading Android applications. Continental also announced that it plans to release an AutoLinQ Software Development Kit (SDK) to the Android Development Community in the first quarter of 2010 and intends to unveil an application store in the second half of the year.The car of the future is "Always On"
Continental, one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world, is designing AutoLinQ as a flexible automotive-grade hardware and software platform. The scalable architecture is based on various views and provides vehicle owners with information that is relevant to their location. For example, through AutoLinQ's mobile view, vehicle owners can ask questions or send commands from their mobile phone to their vehicle, including options like checking the status or location of a vehicle. While at home, vehicle owners can access real-time vehicle status or remote diagnostic information from an account on their laptop. Or, while on the road, vehicle occupants will be able to access real-time location-based information and content that is relevant to the driving situation.
Connecting the car to the world around it in new ways
As the next step in its AutoLinQ development, Continental expects to release a SDK that will extend the open Android API and provide developers with the tools they need to create automotive-specific Android applications. The AutoLinQ SDK, which Continental expects will be available by the end of the first quarter of 2010, consists of API documentation, a Vehicle Simulator, a Vehicle Emulator, and the HMI design guide.
Continental plans to work with Android developers and automakers to certify a core set of applications to help ensure that the information brought into the car is integrated in a thoughtful, secure and safety-minded way. One of the keys to designing a successful application will be an easy-to-use human machine interface that enables drivers and passengers to remain focused on the road while accessing information at highway driving speeds. The Company plans to begin demonstrating applications, via a new application store, to its automotive customers in the second half of 2010.
"Continental's automotive customers have expressed a tremendous interest in AutoLinQ," said Kieran O'Sullivan, executive vice president of Continental's Infotainment & Connectivity Business Unit. "Continental decided to base its AutoLinQ architecture on the Android operating systems because it wants to leverage a large and well established developer community."
Driving application development by tapping into an existing ecosystem
Continental has been collaborating with NAVTEQ, the leading global provider of digital map, traffic and location data, to bring automotive grade content and NAVTEQ-based applications to AutoLinQ. To this end, the NAVTEQ Network for Developers™ provides a variety of valuable resources to developers for application development. In working with NAVTEQ, Continental is enabling access to rich, high quality data and services as well as access to an existing ecosystem for the development of relevant applications for AutoLinQ.
In addition to core applications such as navigation and search a half-dozen partners are also already working on early prototype applications combining vehicle and social information to create exciting new experiences. For example, one partner is in the midst of designing an application that will help drivers locate nearby gas stations and identify those with the cheapest gas price. The application is automatically triggered by the vehicle when fuel runs low. Another partner is working to create location based social networking applications that can safely be used in the vehicle.
Recent forecasts from analyst firm Gartner say Android is expected to power 18 percent of all smartphones sold globally in 2012 – addressing approximately 94 million users. This is up from a share of less than 2% of all smartphones sold in 2009*. The development community, which has designed approximately 20,000 applications so far, also is expected to grow with the market.
"Integrating Android into the vehicle with a product such as AutoLinQ will help automakers further tie their vehicle platforms into the fast-paced world of consumer electronics," added O'Sullivan. "With AutoLinQ, automakers will be able to offer vehicle owners an array of new features and functions, through downloadable applications, months after the car has left the dealership lot."