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Google contributions: Infotainment and autonomous technology
A potential alternative to Apple's CarPlay -- and not one that is so surprising -- is what could be an Android-based infotainment system developed by Google. In a job advertisement posted this year by Mercedes' parent firm Daimier, a software engineer was requested to assist in implementing Google's system, apparently dubbed "Google Projected Mode" within vehicles.
The job ad described the system as software to "seamlessly integrate" Android devices in to a car's interactive dashboard, stating that the infotainment system would be used for "media content, sending messages, receiving phone calls and navigation."
At the Consumer Electronics Show this year, the tech giant also announced the launch of an Open Automotive Alliance to develop such a system. According to the company, the alliance includes automakers such as Audi, GM and Honda.
In addition to the development of a rival infotainment system, we cannot forget Google's research in to autonomous vehicles. Google's self-driving car initiative has been in motion for some time, with tests on city streets being conducted around the congested streets of California this year. Lasers, GPS data and navigational software are used to prevent the car from colliding with obstacles.
Image credit: Mercedes
Nokia's Here, investments in the interactive dashboard
Nokia isn't necessarily the first brand that comes to mind when you consider connected cars. However, the electronics giant has created a unit focusing on mapping technology called HERE as a rival to Google and Apple's own mapping systems. Here is available on mobile devices, but the system can also be used to help drivers navigate unfamiliar roads -- and could potentially become integrated within interactive dashboards.
In addition, Nokia announced an investment fund of $100 million for companies developing technology for the connected car this month. The investment fund, run by Nokia Growth Partners, will work in partnership with Here.
Image credit: Nokia
Microsoft's Windows in the Car
Microsoft's Windows in the Car is a concept system unveiled by the Redmond giant this year.
Revealed at the Microsoft developer conference this year, Windows in the Car -- while similar to Apple's CarPlay -- is based on a brought-in device approach which allows drivers to connect their smartphone to a vehicle and view a projection of the device on the vehicles' display.
The software understandably looks similar to Windows Phone thanks to a tiled display which shows road speed limits, maps, phone services and music. Windows in the Car will also be opened for developers, which could improve the amount of apps available in the Windows app ecosystem, sadly lacking in comparison to Android and iOS.
The MirrorLink standard is used by the concept connected car system.
While later to the party than Apple, we have to keep in mind that many in-car systems already run on the Windows operating system, and Microsoft lays claim to years of experience in the field.
Image credit: Screenshot ZDNet