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Android Central @ CES

Right at the beginning of the CES 2014 week, in the wee small hours of the morning – at least, the Las Vegas morning, anyway – Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance. One of the early partners in the project, Audi, is on the show floor in Las Vegas with a bunch of cool new stuff, including this; the Smart Display

In simple terms, we've got a 10.2-inch Android 4.3 tablet running on a Tegra 4 CPU and carrying a heavily customized user interface. After all, this isn't just another Android tablet. The Smart Display integrates fully and seamlessly with the on-board entertainment and navigation systems. 

Audi has also constructed the Smart Display with the car in mind, too. An Audi representative told us that they tested other tablets such as the iPad and the ASUS Transformer, and in the event of an accident both present a danger to the occupants. That's right, Audi has crash tested its Android tablet. 

It's an interesting concept, and we're sure to start seeing a lot more Android automotive technology in the coming year. But, since we're on the ground at CES, we swung by Audi to see what's going on first hand. Head on past the break for the video, and as a special treat, a few snaps of the uber-impressive Audi S8 we used for some of the shoot. Because, why not?!

Android Central   Android Central

Android Central   Android Central


Reader comments

First look at Audi's Smart Display, putting Android in your car


I don't see the point. Why would one want to buy a car that comes with a tablet that is not of the user's choice and doesn't do what the user wants? If it dies or gets damaged or lost, it will cost a fortune to replace if it is priced like other car parts. It will go obsolete and not be replaceable. The OS will likely not get updated timely or at all after a while. I didn't see any place for it to dock in the car. It presents a possible complex mess of compatibility, especially depending on how much Audi "tweaks" and customizes it.

It reminds me of seeing cars with hardwired, obsolete phones still in them. I believe it would be far better if one could install the Audi app suite on the device(s) of choice (perhaps they do allow this, but none of the articles say).

Agree, 100%.

It seems like auto companies, and audio companies as well, feel like they can use the new tech to boost margins by offering these systems, and likely at 5x the cost of stand alone options. The problem they will face, eventually, is that existing, standalone options will eventually be so ubiquitous and less expensive, that all these attempts and margin improvement will come to naught at best, and result in big writedowns more likely. Just give us an open system interface that we can use with the tech of our choice alreay. Sheesh.

People that buy this car will hardly cate what this tablet is, as long as they think it's the best, that is all that matters to them.

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1. Who cares about how much it costs to replace it. If you can afford an Audi you can afford a fortune to replace it. In fact, just bring it back and demand a new one.
2. No one who buys an Audi owns it for more than a year. You simply take it back and get a new one. Why? Cause your credit is that good. And you ain't gonna be driving a year old car.

You haven't driven a nice new car recently. Your analogy likens this to something old and obsolete of the past, but this is the future of vehicles. New high end cars are coming pre-installed with tablets anyway. Those big beautiful screens are used for GPS navigation, the music and radio interface, and basic computerized car functions.

But they are using the same old archaic operating systems that they've been using in cars for years. Ripping out the nav screen and putting in a highly customized system for the vehicle is brilliant. I just bought a new Acura and I want to cry using their OS. Google Maps and Google Music would be light years ahead, and that's the tip of the iceberg.

The OS doesn't ever need to get updated. My Acura OS won't ever get updated, and I might only have that for 5-7 years anyway, but some one can still use it just fine in 12 years with no update. Stop thinking of this as a tablet. Its a vehicle/navigation system replacement.

You should be able to update it. I know for a fact that uConnect for Chrysler (which uses QNX) can be updated. Stick the USB stick in the USB drive. QNX also have an OTA update but not sure which car has it.

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This "head unit" and tablet being two different things confuses me. Why they don't have a removable head unit?

StealthDroid - Working on his HTC One Max in the Nexus Lab

I share your confusion. I think this is what happens when companies think "if something is good, then more must be better." Where in this case, too much tech that doesn't really serve a realistic purpose.

I personally think a removable head unit/table as one cohesive piece would offer the best real life scenario.

Because the A8 has clients that have drivers and they sit in the back seat all the time. Bently and RR have had something similar for a while I believe.

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Ya I'm in the same boat. They should just be one in the same. That would be much simpler and actually worth something. If you needed a tablet just pop out the head unit. Done. Of course the only downside to this I see is that people could easily steal this head unit or you might forget it or lose it, then you're stuck with a car that has no functionality in car lol. Honestly I just wanted to see Audi bake in android into their actual cars, not a tablet connected to the car. Google nav on a head unit? Yes please. No more using my phone to navigate.

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Only if you subscribe to the T-Mobile data plan (or another prepaid option) do you get the Google Earth navigation overlay. Otherwise, you get the standard Audi navigation view.

I think some of you guys are missing the point a little. The UI is the same on the tablet pretty much as on the car. Audi has to start out somewhere, and what better way to dip a toe in the water than with a tablet like this? This isn't the end game, it's barely the beginning. Would it be crazy to expect future Audi cars to have this kind of setup running on a car and not just a tablet? Car buyers are different to tech buyers. And car makers aren't mobile device makers. Just sticking a tablet in the head unit isn't the way this is going to pan out.

I have two Audi's and I am very impressed with the performance and tech. However, this raises two issues for me .... 1) My 2013 & 2012 Audi have 3G connections. It is unlimited data, but it's still 3G. I don't see how these new tablets can function as advertised over 3G connections; 2) A Tablet does not seam like a good idea. I think Audi would better serve their customers if they would simply put an app in the Play Store that users could download on their preferred tablet (Nexus, Samsung, Motorola, HTC, etc).

I love Audi. Their cars always look great (especially the S7) and they are always on the forefront of technology. This is such a great idea.

What a load of shit. And this extra tablet is needed for what. Why not just have that tablet dock straight into the car instead of having the one on board. Or just create an app that people can just download on there current tablets. WHAT A POINTLESS PIECE OF CRAP !!!!!!!!!!!!