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Signs Point To Expanded Functionality For Radio In Android Automotive.

September is the month developers have circled on the calendar for the release of Android Automotive OS14, the updated operating system for vehicles from Google. While nothing is official, there are indicators the software release will include expanded functionality for digital radio in cars that run on the operating system.

Pilot, the technology arm of NAB, has been collaborating with broadcasters from around the globe, automakers and Google to ensure that the tech giant’s operating system for cars supports everything from the basics, like RDS, to more sophisticated offerings such as hybrid radio.

Last year, the group created what John Clark, Executive Director of NAB Pilot, called a “gap analysis” to identify what aspects of broadcast radio aren’t supported in Android Automotive. Participants include World DAB, Ford, Audi, Carrion, NAB, Xperi, broadcasters and other stakeholders.

Last November the group delivered its requests for radio feature enhancements to the Android team. Since then they’ve had “a series of ongoing discussions” with the team to explain what was in the code, Joe D’Angelo, Senior VP of Broadcast Radio and Digital Audio, Xperi, told Inside Radio.

As part of its traditional product release schedule, Google in February and March began releasing public documents to the Android developer community that included additional functionality around digital radio. More recently, Android moved into a detailed test phase of the new software at its global developer boot camps. “If you're under a development agreement with them, you get an early look, an early access into the new features and the specifications” that allows you to test some of the code, D’Angelo explained.

While all signals so far are positive for radio, the proof will be in the pudding in September, when Google publicly releases Android Automotive OS14. “We anticipate that what was previewed in those public documents continued into the release,” D’Angelo said. “And we're optimistic that we will see some expanded functionality in the September timeframe.”

Much more than the similarly named Android Auto app, Android Automotive is an operating system installed in the vehicle itself that controls the built-in infotainment system, rather than just mirroring a version of a phone’s screen. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google has signed partnerships with nearly a dozen auto makers and auto-parts suppliers, including Stellantis, Honda, BMW, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and General Motors’ GMC and Chevrolet brands.

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