Google and Apple battle for the passenger seat

Google and Apple are rolling out several software offerings to beef up the tech in your car.

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Google and Apple battle for the passenger seat


The Future. Google and Apple are rolling out several software offerings to beef up the tech in your car — starting with the infotainment system but accelerating to include deeper vehicle functionality. With so much data being harvested in driver behavior and entertainment preferences, don’t be surprised if either tech giant uses that knowledge to finally build their own car in the near future.

Google and Apple are in a race to power your car, reports WSJ.


  • The tech giant has two systems — Android Auto and Android Automotive.
  • Android Auto is a phone-connected system that allows your device to be mirrored on your car’s infotainment system.
  • Android Automotive is a built-in operating system for vehicles that controls the infotainment system — making them almost “Android-powered tablets” that can be continually updated.
  • Additionally, Google can license car manufacturers’ select Android apps like Maps and Assistant through Google Automotive Services.
  • The company has already partnered with several automakers, such as Honda, BMW, and Chevrolet.


  • Apple’s CarPlay is similar to Android Auto, allowing drivers to mirror their iPhones on the car infotainment screen.
  • While Apple doesn’t yet have an answer to Android Automotive (that would require a level of tech sharing the company is not known for), an updated version of CarPlay may be inching closer to that kind of service.
  • Dubbed by some analysts as “CarOS,” the update could allow Apple to control your car’s “instrument cluster” — gauges that include MPH, RPM, and, for electric vehicles, the charge.
  • Apple has partnerships with Ford, Volvo, Mercedes, and Porsche.

Tech track
With cars essentially becoming, as WSJ’s Christopher Mims says, “smartphones on wheels,” automakers want in on the best and most user-friendly tech — especially as they’ve mostly failed to replicate it. But that comes with some tradeoffs.

  • They have to give up some control of the driver experience and the data that the software collects, especially as behemoths like Apple and Google run the show.
  • It gives up some revenue it would take in if it did the tech on its own, especially as more automakers pull a Tesla and offer over-air updates and upgrades.
  • Having a car tied to a tech giant’s operating system may limit resale value if a customer prefers one tech over the other.

While other tech companies are also vying for a seat in the car — Amazon, Nvidia, Qualcomm — the race for dominance between Google and Apple is leading the pack… and just heating up.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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