• Jan 9, 2010
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.

[Source: Continental]

PRESS RELEASE

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."





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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can see this being huge if picked up by one or more of the typical aftermarket headunit companies like Kenwood, pioneer, sony alpine etc. With systems like Sync I see it being hard for those companies to compete in the future with adopting a powerful user friendly system like this put fourth by Continental.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like the direction personal tech is going. Go Android, and Win for Auto based technologies. Maybe one day we'll have a system standardized enough to where people can easily switch OSes on their in vehicle systems as easily as someone can switch OSes on their PC.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Walt: have you ever tried Ubuntu? Obviously not.

        You don't even have to partition your drive: it installs into a FILE in your Windows filesystem.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I have no idea exactly what microsoft's car system is. All I know is that Sync and the like are "powered by it".

        Android is a pretty solid mobile OS though.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sure, but have you used Windows 7? Windows XP? They are extremely stable, assuming you haven't done anything to mess it up. Even then, they are generally robust enough to not take down the entire OS. People who often make disparaging jokes towards Microsoft products most likely have not used them, or do not know how to use them.

        The computer industry is very familiar with the concept of rock solid reliability. If you've ever worked in the server world, you'd know that reliability can be a very, very serious concept and there's a lot of work and money that goes towards ensuring that.

        And indeed, Apple cannot compete in this arena, and possibly never will. Their obsession with keeping a chokehold on everything, and making it as difficult as possible for companies and individuals to develop freely for their platforms make them significantly weaker compared to Microsoft solutions and Android based solutions (as well as Linux-based solutions). However, Apple's overly simplistic and draconian nature allows them to appeal to even the most tech-ignorant in the market.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Love this idea. Unfortunately so many of the big makers are already trying to do it in house (BMW I-Drive)
      But this being open platform, maybe it could serve as a "base" that the in-house functions get inserted into?
      • 5 Years Ago
      i do not think that a supplier like continental can possibly do this. their efforts in the past show that they lack the ability to be on the fore front of anything. continental should stick to tires. this is where their knowledge is good, in underperforming tires for the masses.
      • 5 Years Ago
      lol that seems very unsafe to use on the roads. There is going to be a growing number of car accidents if this hits the market i think... I maybe wrong and this could be better than snyc.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Android would only be used for the entertainment/navigation system. A car's on board engine management computer either runs some type of real time operating system, or is a completely custom piece of software.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, you are wrong...
        1) Linux and many Unix systems are open as well, and it does not harm their safety at all. Quite the opposite.
        Pople developing this stuff are not some 18yr "HTML-gurus" so they will probably strictly restrict access to those critical components of such system. :)
        (Not speaking of the fact that they might use Android only for the entertainment parts.)
        2) I am Ford fan but I think they will struggle to keep up with the development pace of Android in long term.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is what I've been telling Ford should have done - use Android. I believe they will have to switch one day anyways, no matter how much ahead of competition MyFord currently is. (I do also believe Android will kick iPhone "OS" ass.)