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CES 2014: The next generation of smart cars? Google announces alliance with major car companies

Google today unveiled the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA), a collaboration with Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai, and Nvidia that's intended to accelerate in-car tech innovation.

"Common platforms allow for one connected experience across our phone, tablet and PC, so we get the right information at the right time, no matter what device we're using," Patrick Brady, director of Android Engineering, wrote in a blog post. "But there's still an important device that isn't yet connected as seamlessly to the other screens in our lives – the car."

As a result, the search giant is joining forces with automakers to help make it easier - and safer - to access Android devices from behind the wheel.

"Wouldn't it be great if you could bring your favourite apps and music with you, and use them safely with your car's built-in controls and in-dash display?" Brady wrote.

Using Android, he said, will make it easier for automakers to deliver "cutting-edge technology" to customers. A number of car makers already have in-car infotainment systems, like FordSync, but updates can be a hassle.

Meanwhile, the alliance "will create new opportunities for developers to extend the variety and depth of the Android app ecosystem in new, exciting and safe ways," Brady said.

"We see huge opportunities for the Android platform paired with OnStar 4G LTE connectivity in future Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles," said Mary Chan, president of General Motors' Global Connected Consumer unit.

"The worlds of consumer and automotive technologies have never been more closely aligned, and this alliance will only pave the way for faster innovation," said Ricky Hudi, Head of Electrics/Electronics Development at Audi AG. "Working toward a common ecosystems benefits driver safety above all."

Expect to hear more from Audi tonight; chairman Rupert Stadler is scheduled to deliver a CES keynote, which kicks off at 8:30 pm Pacific Time (16:30 GMT).

Google urged other auto-makers to join the alliance. The company is, of course, also working on self-driving cars, though that is not expected to become a reality for another 10 years or so.