The automotive industry is in the midst of a major shift, with advancements in vehicle software becoming the main profitability growth driver for automakers. We can see this as more automakers move away from screen mirroring software like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, instead rolling out Android Automotive OS (AAOS) across their vehicle line-ups, which is essentially transforming the way we interact with our cars.
Photo by Steven Binotto on Unsplash
What Is AAOS?
AAOS is a complete operating system, designed by Google specifically for use in cars. This operating system integrates with the car's internal systems, allowing for seamless control and access to features such as music, navigation, and communication. AAOS is an open-source platform, meaning developers can create new apps and services, adding to the system's functionality.
Click here to read our previous blog post for a full introduction to Android Automotive.
AAOS vs Android Auto & Apple CarPlay
One of the most significant benefits of AAOS is its reliable and uninterrupted connectivity. Screen mirroring software relies on a Bluetooth or USB connection to communicate with the car's infotainment system, which can cause connectivity problems. On the other hand, AAOS is designed to work seamlessly with the car's internal systems and hardware, providing reliable and uninterrupted access to the car's features as well as other apps and services over-the-air.
Voice Command Functionality
AAOS offers more advanced voice command functionality, allowing drivers to control various features of the car using simple voice commands. This feature is especially important for drivers who need to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support a limited set of apps, while AAOS offers full access to the Google Play Store, allowing drivers to install and interact with their favourite apps directly from their vehicle. As more brands expand their apps to AAOS, users will have access to a wide range of apps for entertainment, productivity, and more.
AAOS requires all apps developed for the platform to meet Google's design requirements for driver safety. These requirements include guidelines for minimizing driver distraction and ensuring that app interfaces are easy to use while driving.
AAOS app developers should also consider the Android for Cars App Library which is a set of tools and APIs designed specifically for building apps that are optimized for use in-car. The library provides a range of features, including voice and touch input, templates for common app layouts, and tools for handling car-specific data such as speed and location.
Automakers Transforming Into Tech Companies
More automotive OEMs are committing to phasing out widely popular screen mirroring apps, instead building out end-to-end software platforms. GM is an example of this, recently announcing their strategy to drop Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, collaborating instead with Google to create custom infotainment systems for their future electric vehicles. The news caused intense backlash with consumer sentiments echoing Apple's research that states almost 80% of new car buyers in the US only consider buying a car if it supports CarPlay, but GM stands behind its decision. Why is that?
Legacy automakers are looking to the future where vehicles and the in-car experience will be software-defined. By controlling this next generation, they are opening up profitable revenue streams from the following:
- Consumer data collection—capturing & utilizing different types of data for analysis, marketing use, etc.
- Subscriptions to vehicle features—software enabled features like heated seats, voice activated driver-assist, etc.
To put it into perspective, GM expects their in-car subscription revenue to reach $25 billion by 2030, competing with the subscription revenue of tech companies like Netflix, Peloton and Spotify. This is going to have huge implications for the way that vehicles are sold and marketed.
Brands Reaching Users In-car
AAOS presents a similar revenue opportunity for brands outside of the automotive industry, really any brand that has an app should be looking into expanding to AAOS for an enhanced cross-platform user experience. It boils down to the fact that users spend a significant portion of their day/week in the car, AAA reported that the total number was around 70 billion hours each year for Americans. Brands are currently missing out when they could be reaching their users through personalized in-car experiences. Time spent in the car is no longer just about driving and getting around, the reality is that users expect a similar experience from their vehicles as they do from their smartphones.
👀 Wondering what types of AAOS apps brands are able to create? Click here to read our blog where we talk about the different AAOS features and the types of apps they enable!
The Future In-car Experience
Gartner predicts that by 2028, 70% of vehicles sold will use the Android Automotive operating system. Yes, read that again. 70% is a huge jump up from the 1% reported in 2022. Not to mention, at the moment there are only 37 apps available to download on AAOS, far from the millions available for mobile. How exactly is this going to be achieved in the span of 5 years?
Automakers are going to continue making big changes, especially legacy automakers, as they take on the massive feat of transforming into tech companies themselves. It's not just a matter of growing the software side of their business/operations, they also have to change the way they build digital products. The diagram below explains how automotive product-development needs to change when it comes to R&D:
Image from McKinsey
Inevitably there will be gaps, leading to automakers forming major partnerships with software companies skilled at building high quality digital products, faster with Agile methodology.
Brands looking to expand their app to AAOS will need the help of automotive/AAOS experts, as it's important to note the regulations for driver safety. Google's design and development guidelines are not just recommended, they are necessary. Brands will benefit from investing in AAOS development services/partners that enable them to build innovative and compliant apps.
Looking for an AAOS Development Partner?
TribalScale designs and builds custom AAOS apps. Our Android-specialized engineers have extensive knowledge on Google’s AAOS development guidelines, ensuring compliance and quality.
Have any questions about your AAOS strategy or TribalScale's AAOS development capabilities? Click here to book a call with one of our in-house AAOS experts.
Sebastian Valencia is an Engineer Manager at TribalScale who has been working on Android Automotive development projects, researching and implementing the latest Android for Cars App Library. Alyssa Berbecaru is the Digital Marketing Operations Specialist at TribalScale, focused on researching the strategy and business benefits of AAOS.