Android Automotive 13 is here, just two months after 12L hit cars

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Comes complete with privacy dashboard, new vehicle properties and more

It’s only been a couple of months since Android 12L became available for Android Automotive devices, but considering it’s no longer the new kid on the block, it’s time for another release. Google has released the latest patch notes for its car operating system, and while they may not seem exciting on paper, they show a real commitment on the part of the company to keep automakers and drivers happy.

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Esper.io’s Mishaal Rahman saw the Android Auto 13 release notes this morning. Unlike Android 12L for cars, which included, among other things, a new Quick Controls feature for quickly toggling between various options, Android 13 focuses on behind-the-scenes technical changes. If you’re an Android Automotive user expecting a list of new features, you’re likely to be disappointed. That said, considering that Google’s platform is designed to be customized specifically for each model by automakers, user-facing features will always be few and far between.

Although there aren’t many changes here to highlight, there are a few that are worth noting. Various connectivity changes, including ultra-wideband support and Gabeldorsche, a new version of Android’s Bluetooth stack that’s active down to the scan level, made the cut. The Android 12 Privacy Dashboard came to cars with this release and provides a list of sensors used by the vehicle. Google also added some new vehicle features, including fog lights, electric vehicle charging, and more. Here is the full list of changes:


Camera

  • Android camera2 API. Allows third-party consumer applications to access one or more vehicle cameras at the same time without affecting Extended View System (EVS) performance and behavior.
  • List camera devices by relative locations. Allows clients to list and open camera devices (or video streams) based on relative locations, along with hardware details (eg device node name) hidden from clients.
  • EVS hot plug events. Adds notification and management of hotplug cameras.

car frame

  • Car frame main line. Added a new car framework module that includes car APIs and car services. This enables auto stack update regardless of Android platform versions.
  • Driving safety region support. Allows applications to specify regions to drive safely and allows the system to specify a region and provide a temporary exemption.
  • Migrate the HAL vehicle from HIDL to AIDL. The HIDL HAL is still supported, but the new properties should only be added to the new AIDL HAL vehicle.
  • Supports larger payloads and batch calls in VHAL. VHAL can now pass larger payloads through shared memory. Call batching allows for the most efficient dispatch of multiple requests.
  • Padding navigation metadata for cluster. This function extends the navigation state protocol buffer in the navigation state API with additional fields to describe the navigation metadata.
  • Touch mode. Notifications are now separate from focus events in Android 13. In Android 12 and earlier, touch and focus mode are represented by the same native C++ FocusEvent. Touch mode changes are now rendered in a new event, TouchModeEvent. This new native event is dispatched to all existing windows, focused or not.

connectivity

  • Enable Ultra Wide Band (UWB). Provides multi-anchor support to position UWB tags with an accuracy of 10 cm.
  • Bluetooth mainline integration. Turn Automotive Bluetooth into a module to allow independent updates of Android platform versions. Hidden APIs are migrated to System APIs with continued support from Google.
  • Gabledorsch. A newer version of the Bluetooth stack is enabled, with support for automotive use cases.
  • vehicular networks. Adds controls for Ethernet-based networks, including dynamic IP configuration management, networking capabilities, application access control lists, and the ability to connect and disconnect networks on the fly.
  • TCU reference. It facilitates the integration of an external telematics ECU with Android through the Telephony HAL.
  • Projection support. Added a new API to include VendorElements as part of a generation hostapd Access point configuration.
  • API to get a list of Wi-Fi channels and country codes when Wi-Fi is off.

Energy

  • Supports suspend on disk. Power off mode to preserve the contents of RAM memory. Suspend to disk and Suspend to RAM are supported.
  • Control of the shutdown process. Allows vendors to take timely actions before and after Garage Mode.

Privacy

  • Car license model. Changes to the permissions model balance safety, privacy, and user experience while driving.
  • Post-driving permit decision reminder. Reminds users who have parked permission decisions made while driving.
  • Recent permission decisions. Recent permission decisions are displayed in privacy settings, allowing users to change permission decisions.
  • Car privacy board. Allows users to review recent app permission usage within privacy settings, including a timeline of events for sensors (such as location, microphone, and camera) and sub-attribution for GMSCore usage.

sensors

  • New types of sensors in the Android Sensors framework. Added new Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensor types for limited axes and heading to support different sensor configurations and navigation use cases.

telemetry

  • OEM telemetry. Enables OEMs to use an Android-powered infotainment system to configure and collect in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) and vehicle data.

User Management

  • Improved user lifecycle event management. Added a new user lifecycle filter to improve performance and simplify client code.

vehicle integration

  • New VHAL properties. Added new properties for fog lights, EV charging, towing, vehicle weight, and wheel marking.

As Rahman pointed out on Twitter, these patch notes are intended specifically for system engineers working with Android Automotive, not general consumers. He did a great job of breaking down some of the biggest changes in this latest version, so I highly recommend reading his detailed coverage of each change. It’s great to see that even as work on Android Auto slows down, Automotive continues to receive timely OS updates for automakers who rely on it. However, it remains to be seen if it will be enough to compete with Apple’s future plans for CarPlay.

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