We Have Android Smartphone-in-Dash Connectivity, But Not for Android Auto

11. 09. 2019 · 3 min read

From now on, you can experience Sygic GPS Navigation for Android in your infotainment system. In a way similar to Apple CarPlay.

If you have a MirrorLink compatible car and smartphone, you are good to go. The app feature is currently available only in Europe, with more regions coming in. In the future, we will add even more similar connectivities, but currently, Android Auto will not be one of them.

In Europe, more than 70 percent of all smartphones run on the Google-owned operating system. Android Auto supports infotainment systems in more than 500 car models and counting. But if you expected that you could choose the navigation you prefer, you need to look somewhere else.

Even though Android is widely considered to be an open source platform – from our point of view, it is anything but open. We can develop and distribute our app using Google Play, but this is pretty much all we can do.

In 2014, Associate professor of Harvard Business School Ben Eldman published a blog titled Secret Ties in Google’s "Open" Android in which he accused the company of full-line forcing. If a phone manufacturer wants to distribute Google’s mobile applications, including Maps, they need to comply with the Application Distribution Agreement (MADA). According to this, devices may be distributed only if certain Google apps are pre-installed on the device.

Four years later, Google got fined 4.3 billion euros for abusing its market dominance in mobile operating systems by the European Commission. This ruling does not apply to Android Auto, where everything seems to be working according to the old ways. We have asked the company several times for documentation to develop offline navigation for the platform and bring you more choices. No answer.

So now, your – our only option in Android is to wait until Google will open the platform and in the meantime do the maximum to bring you as many connectivities as possible. The more we add, including Smart Device Link (SDL) and Bosch mySPIN, the higher the chance that your car and smartphone will be compatible.

In the current circumstances, instead of focussing on innovations for all platforms, we are wasting our resources to convince a global monopoly and are searching for workarounds to do something that is considered in almost every market in the world as indisputable.

But we are persistent as we deeply believe that smartphone navigation – in-dash connectivity is the safest way you can operate your navigation in the car. With our beautiful 3D maps, accurate traffic information, optimized for offline use, taking up as little of your smartphone memory as possible, we want you to have us as an option.

Earlier this year, US Senator Elizabeth Warren announced a proposal to break up giant tech companies like Google, Facebook or Amazon to return previously acquired assets to their original owners. This includes not only Instagram, or WhatsApp, but also Waze or Twitch.

In Europe, the European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager in the interview for French daily LeMonde asked "Why don't we have a European Google or Apple?". She later attributes it to different business environments. But from our experience, it is just a part of the problem.

The other part is the aggressive behavior of the companies associated with acquisitions and growth at all costs. We are not trying to say that the senator Warren’s proposal is good or bad, what we say is that the only losers are the customers, who are missing out on the possibility to make a choice.

Sygic is a proud European company which was established in the same year in which its home country Slovakia joined the European Union 15 years ago. We believe in innovation and fair competition.

We were founded from a passion to make a difference. And we hope that Google will soon decide to allow 3rd party navigation developers to develop for Android Auto and allow all drivers to make the choice they want, not what they are forced to do, which will start an innovation race with you becoming the clear winner.

Written by Marek Lelovic