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Google and Qualcomm are showing the future of Android in cars

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Thanks to a Maserati Ghibli

I just got finished spending some time in the plush leather seats of a Maserati Ghibli, but I wasn't there for the luxury or the speed. I was taking a look at a concept of how Android N could be combined with Android Auto to power more of the car than you've probably seen before. Googled and Qualcomm installed a massive touchscreen in the center of the dash and also replaced the screen behind the steering wheel. Then, they set up the HVAC and infotainment to run off Android completely.

If you're familiar with Android Auto, you'll notice something new and clever here: the split screen. The top half of the screen shows a rotating set of widgets related to your last activity, while the bottom panel is a big view of your current activity. So, for example, when you switch over to maps, you can still get controls for music up top. It's a lot like how Tesla's giant touchscreen works.

Android N is going to power more parts of the car

Additionally, Google has added some nice supplementary information on the screen behind the steering wheel. None of it is strictly new — Android Auto can pull that off today — but the display of the various icons, album art, and contact photos is much better-looking and subtly animated.

Additionally, you can directly control the AC, heat, heated seats, and even the power windows and door locks from within the Android interface. Android Auto handles the traditional car stereo and navigation infotainment stuff, Android handles the other stuff. Note that Android isn't powering the deeper parts of the car's operation, like the brakes or safety equipment. Android is good, but it's not that good yet.

Google says that this is more about the concept of Android N powering more parts of the car than it is about being a next-generation vision of Android Auto. But in both cases, it seems to work pretty nicely in this beta.