According to sources who spoke anonymously with Reuters, the next generation of Google's Android smartphone and tablet operating system, dubbed Android M, will feature a variant that can be used as a car entertainment system's operating system.
Earlier this year both Google and Apple announced that their smartphone operating systems, Android and iOS, respectively, would support mirroring onto compatible car audio systems.
Car makers have variously pledged support for either or both of these systems, and automotive suppliers are currently working to upgrade their entertainment systems to suit.
If Reuters' report is on the money, Android M will go on step beyond what is offered by Android Auto and CarPlay. Entertainment systems that run Android M natively will give drivers direct access to Google's navigation, search and music streaming functions regardless of which smartphone OS they prefer.
According to one of the news wire's sources: "With [Android M] embedded it's always on, always there. You don't have to depend on your phone being there and on."
Another source added that if the development work is successful and auto makers adopt the system, "[Google] can get access to GPS location, where you stop, where you travel everyday, your speed, your fuel level, where you stop for gas". All of this data can then be used for the company's advertising-driven business model.
The source did caution that for Android to be a viable car entertainment operating system, its boot time would have to be cut to something approaching zero; currently most Android phones take around half-a-minute to start up.
In November, Dinesh Paliwal, Harman's CEO, said that his company was working on a new entertainment unit for GM, due in 2016, that would use the Android operating system.