Android Automotive OS to give the new version of android operating system its full name, but we just call it Android Car.
This branch of android is specifically targeted for inside vehicles for use by the driver or passengers. An infotainment operating system designed for being on the move. Based on the well know android code, Android Car can be considered a branch.
Android Car Apps
With Version 1.2.0 of the Android for Cars App Library Google has officially launched the code to developers to start building and testing the apps specifically designed to run on Android Car. These apps are mature enough, should they pass the stringent checks by google, are destined for the play store. You can download Android Car apps to your in car android from the play store, just as you can with your phone or android headunit.
Why Android Car?
Google take driver distraction very seriously and wants the new breed of apps to make driving with android safer. Having the Android Automotive OS is the google way to ensure high quality, driver safety orientated apps.
Vehicle manufacturers know that in car technology sells more cars. Google has stepped up and given them a universal platform to develop further in car infotainment technology. While expanding the google android landscape beyond televisions, phone and wearables.
The future is more android in vehicles, Android Car, Android Automotive OS (AAOS) or whatever the name will be. We may see changes in the name to numbers, fruit or cakes. But one thing we know is that android will feature prominently in more and more cars as time goes on.
The Android Car, Android Auto and Android Headunits waters will get even muddier, but with the restrictions placed on app developers of Android Car apps, there will still be a space for an android headunit, for at least, a little while.