By Brendan Byrne
While Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Open Automotive Alliance is Android-based, Audi announced on Thursday that it finished "intensive dialog" with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in order to offer customers of the luxury car maker the option to switch between the two platforms at will in order to integrate its cars with the two leading smartphone operating systems. The company will begin building that integration into all its cars beginning in 2015. According to the statement, customers will be able to toggle between the two systems "at any time."
Audi announcement on integrating Apple and Google's operating systems
"Our customers want to be 'always on' and use the services they know from their smartphones in cars as well," Audi board member Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg said in a release. "In this regard, we are working closely with leading companies like Google and Apple. In the future, customers will be able to use the functions available to them on their smartphones via the operating systems in their cars as well."
While the two companies have been apparently been working together for some time, until yesterday there was no publicly-disclosed relationship between them. Audi has long had a development lab in Silicon Valley, and it's this team's work that has integrated the system into Audi's upcoming vehicles.
While Apple has many partners for its CarPlay that was first shown at the Worldwide Developers Conference last year, the program really gained traction earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show when numerous automakers showed new model cars with CarPlay integration including models from Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and Ferrari when the new system installed in cars this year.
Catering to smartphone owners
Smartphones are a fact of life and as their use becomes even more widespread, car-makers know that they must cater to its interconnected customers and will become another battleground for Apple and Google. The fact that people may make decisions about what car to buy based on its offerings to smartphones of choice is something that was a long ways from a reality when Apple's Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPhone and showed what a smartphone could do.
Earlier this week at the I/O conference in San Francisco, Google showed those in attendance its first version of Android Auto. While in the future Bluetooth will certainly be used to connect car to phone, presently users will need to tether the two with a USB cable that will take the brains of the smartphone and add it to the automobile while offering an in-dash touchscreen and voice controls.