The marathon of tech that is CES in Las Vegas kicks off later today. We're expecting a bevy of exciting car-tech announcements, starting with Audi's imminent shift to Android, powered by Nvidia chips, for its multimedia platforms.
At this stage, not an awful lot more is known about Audi and Google's plans other than that it forms part of a broader alliance of car companies, including General Motors and Honda, all making the jump to Android for their in-car systems.
For us, there are two critical questions. Firstly, with multiple manufacturers making the move to Android at the same time, with in-car tech become increasingly samey?
Secondly, what advantages might in-car Android hold for users of Android handsets and tablets? It's not hard to imagine a greater level of integration twixt handset and car if both share an OS.
So, what else can you expect from CES? We'd put decent money on several companies, including Audi again, showcasing self-driving car tech.
There's some psychological resistance to the idea of self-driving cars from some quarters. Some worry about driving involvement. Others about the rise of murderous four-wheeled overlords.
But we think those reservations will fade away when people get their heads around the huge benefits of robocars. They promise to have as big an impact as the car itself did a century ago – and almost all for the good.
More use of integrated 4G cellular networking is another good bet for CES this year, though many companies may opt to leave data connectivity to smartphones via greater integration. We think the latter probably makes more sense, if only to minimise the number of data contracts you have to manage.
While we're on the subject of car-tech tie ins, what about Apple? Expect more announcements and detailed demos of cars using Apple's Siri voice control interface.
In-car voice control to date has largely been a painful experience, but the benefits for safety are pretty obvious, so in-car Siri could be a major advance.
Meanwhile, while we doubt Apple is planning to have iOS fully integrated into cars, CES 2014 could see car manufacturers using iOS devices to power in-car interfaces.
In fact, Mercedes already offers just that with its DriveKitPlus, which involves a whole secondary infotainment that duplicates much of Mercedes own integrated COMAND Online system. Intriguing.
We'll bring you all of the interesting car tech news from CES as it breaks.
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