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Will Android eventually run in Tesla?

Discussion in 'Model S: User Interface' started by pguerra, Jun 13, 2012.

  1. pguerra

    pguerra Member

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    #1 pguerra, Jun 13, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
    I know this sounds ridiculous! But:

    1) Larry and Sergey are super highly involved with Tesla.
    2) Google is becoming involved with every aspect of life: self driving cars, search, wallet, maps, docs, apps, etc etc. With the future of cars laid down by Tesla, wouldn't Google want to be also the top operating system in cars with app-usable touch screens like Tesla?
    3) Google has already created a special "night mode" version for the Google Maps in Model S.
    4) Wouldn't it be cool if we could run Android apps by touching the Apps button in the Model S?
    5) If not compatible, aren't there going to be third party app developers??
    6) If so, couldn't an app developer create an "Android emulator"?
    7) I'm reading Steve Jobs biography which mentions Microsoft vs. Apple. Open system vs Closed system. Which philosophy is superior? You will never find iOS in Model S. But you may find more things going Android-ish vs iOS-ish in the Model S.

    I am a big-time Apple user. But maybe Bill Gates was right...maybe Open systems (Windows, Android) always take over and win b/c of their definition...they're Open (can be on any hardware like Windows). Eventually, the sheer volume of the Open systems surrounds and overpowers the closed systems. Although I think I'd prefer if iOS apps were in the Tesla - that just ain't gonna happen b/c of AAPL's philosophy.

    Well anyway I know one thing I don't want in the Tesla. I don't think I'd want a Windows Electric Car 2013 XP Profesional Ultimate SP4 Upgrade running in my Tesla!
     
  2. Andrew Wolfe

    Andrew Wolfe Roadster 472 - S 440

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    The console display does run Android. It is still unknown whether third-party android apps will run or it a special app store will be used.
     
  3. Lyon

    Lyon 2016 S P100DL, 2016 X P90D

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    Model S' center consol runs a custom Linux system, not Android.
     
  4. W.Petefish

    W.Petefish Active Member

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    That we don't know the specifics for. It could very well be a custom Android variant. Android and Linux share a lot of the same file structures even some applications.
     
  5. AnOutsider

    AnOutsider S532 # XS27

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    Seems a bit too smooth for android :p
     
  6. ElSupreme

    ElSupreme Model S 03182

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    I was going to post something along these lines! I like android and all but really I would take Win7 over Android for reliability.

    Not to mention there are a lot of crappy android apps that have huge memory leaks and other crappy code. I wouldn't want any of that on my car.
     
  7. W.Petefish

    W.Petefish Active Member

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  8. AnOutsider

    AnOutsider S532 # XS27

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    I know, I was being facetious (mostly), and it's more about stability. I'm fairly sure it's not a flavor of Android though. IMO Android isn't a good choice. It's cobbled together on top of another virtual machine (which I think they've corrected recently?) -- so it would be Tesla's UI on top of Android which is on top of... You get the point. Tesla would do better to code at the lowest level possible, which is why I think it's a custom flavor of linux, perhaps with an Adobe AIR (for better or worse) UI.
     
  9. Andrew Wolfe

    Andrew Wolfe Roadster 472 - S 440

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    Guess I got the wrong info at the factory tour.
     
  10. Citizen-T

    Citizen-T Active Member

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    I'm a software engineer and I've done development on Linux, Android, and iOS, so I think I can help here.

    From day 1 I thought that Android was the perfect choice for the Model S console, but I was told by Tesla salespeople that it was not Android. They apparently developed their own OS based on a Linux kernel. Granted, these were just salespeople, so they could be wrong.

    I think this was a mistake, here's why:
    What kinds of things would your Model S console OS need? GPS compatibility/drivers/software, Maps, Navigation, Bluetooth compatibility/drivers, voice commands, address book, browse the internet, play music, clock, support 3rd party apps, etc., etc. Does anyone develop, maintain, make freely available, and allow you to fully customize a system that can do all of these things? Yes. Google via Android.

    I think that the result of Tesla having to reinvent the wheel on all these things is that we are going to see a buggier, less performant, less feature-rich console; and Tesla is going to be forever spending resources trying to keep up with the latest Bluetooth standard rather than adding new kick-butt features. Oh, and if it was based on Android, we wouldn't have to pay extra for inferior Navigation.

    I don't know that "share a lot of the same file structures" is very accurate. Android is built on a Linux kernel. I think it would be more accurate to say that Android is a Linux distribution, like Ubuntu or Red Hat.

    You are right, we don't know the details, but from what I've seen, there is no way they are using Android. Just look at the maps app for instance. It clearly loads tiles when you zoom in or out. Android's map app uses vectors to draw the map, you would not see this kind of behavior in Android's Google Maps. This looks to me like a simple browser window, that doesn't even have Maps GL enabled.

    There is this misconception out there that Android is somehow slow; and it just isn't true. Android can outperform iOS for many tasks (if not most). I think this myth comes from the masses that are getting the $50 Android phone with the pathetic hardware and custom UI that was written by the "elite" software engineers that can't seem to get a job at a software company so they are working for the hardware vendors.

    As for Win7...for reliability? You've got to be kidding. You want a Windows based system over a Linux one for...reliability???

    Alright, well, even if we put that aside, Windows is the wrong choice because it provides very, very few of the core services that you want a car console to perform for free (doesn't even support the NVIDIA chip that they are using, so actually, you can't even run it) and it provides tons and tons of services that you don't need that are just going to slow the system down and drain your battery. Oh, and it isn't open source, so you can't fix any of this.

    Finally, about bad apps and memory leaks. That has nothing to do with the OS, that's just about bad developers. The solution here is not to choose a different OS, its to control what goes into your app store. Elon has already said that (mostly for safety reasons) they are going to be extremely tight on what is allowed to be installed on the car's console. It sounded to me almost like they were going to work with partners to get certain apps, rather than just publish an API that anyone can develop for. I foresee them working hand-in-hand with the likes of Pandora to bring out a very limited set of Tesla tested and approved apps.

    No, no. It's not one on top of another on top of another. Android is not "cobbled together" at all. It is built from the ground up (except for the Linux kernel). They even wrote their own virtual machine (instead of using Sun's or IBM's). It is extremely vertically developed.

    When you write your own UI for Android, you don't just slap it on top of Android's UI, you download the source code, keep the things you want, remove the things you don't, add your UI in place of Google's and rebuild it. This is one of the reasons that vendors that have custom UIs take forever to update to new versions of Android. I wish Android provided a mechanism for replacing the whole UI, that way you could upgrade Android to the newest version without waiting for your vendor to repeat the whole process with the new source code (the so-called fragmentation problem).

    Writing at the "lowest level possible" is almost always a bad idea. There are systems that took hundreds or thousands of person years to develop, which have been used extensively and we've rung out tons and tons of bugs and corrected performance bottlenecks (Linux is a perfect example). If you start from scratch again, you will most likely build an inferior system and have to go through all of that again, while your competitor is spending that time innovating and adding new features.

    Unless your requirements are dramatically different than what is already out there, reuse something that exists.
     
  11. ElSupreme

    ElSupreme Model S 03182

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    I agree with this mostly. Android is a real memory hog. But I wasn't commenting on slow the Tegra3 should be able to blast through anything written today.

    Ah see I didn't say any of that. I said I would prefer Win7 for reliability over Android. I don't have an Android phone any more, but my fiancee does. I would say it requires more reboots than my Win7 computers. I have always thought and have experienced simple phone hangup errors in Android often that require a reboot, or battery pull. It might just be me, or the phones I have had.

    I agree that Win7 is not a good choice for a car. I didn't mean to suggest it as the OS. It is absolutely the wrong tool. But Win8 RT should run on the Tegra3 :wink:. Again probably not what you want though.

    Ahh but if my car runs Android, those games will get put onto the system. And they will cause problems. I think it is better to build a wall, then your garden inside of it (using a custom OS), than taking a huge garden and trying to wall it up (taking an OS and securing it).

    I see Tesla also working with people to produce apps that make sense for a car. Who needs Angry birds, especially when it won't play in portrait mode.
     
  12. shokunin

    shokunin P85 & S40

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    I really don't care if it's Android or some other distribution of Linux. I care about stability and fast response to actions. I'm sure the question of "control" is/was a deciding factor in the direction of Android vs linux decision. If something in the android kernel is crashing the system, do they have to wait for google to come up with a patch? On the flip side, are there limitations in the Android API to control things like the panaromic roof, lights, HVAC, air suspension or is it easier to roll your own since you have to code for those interfaces anyways.

    Either way, as long as it's speedy and stable, I'm good.
     
  13. MitchL

    MitchL S#945

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    The computer hacker (programmer, the good kind) in me thinks Android would be neat.

    The practical person in me says "no way."

    The touch screen has access do far too many safety-critical systems in the car: trunk/frunk latches, locks, sunroof, headlights, suspension, charger, even parts of the motor control (valet mode, etc.).


    If you owned a plane, would you want your avionics system to be wide open and run (pick your favorite open OS here)?


    I definitely want to write apps for my Model S, but I'd have _zero_ problem having to get Tesla to vet them first.

    I'm not even concerned about malicious intent; just poor programming, memory leak, off-by-one, CPU hog, or whatever can create issues that aren't easy to be defensive about in the main OS.

    So, though Android seems like a nice thought, I'm pretty happy knowing that Tesla is doing their own thing.

    /Mitch.
     
  14. gg_got_a_tesla

    gg_got_a_tesla Model S: VIN P65513, Model 3 Res Holder

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    Well, FWIW, a few / most of the Tesla engineers working on the touchscreen software are ex-Apple:

    Elon Musk Rocks To Adele In The Tesla Model S - Forbes

    http://autos.winnipegfreepress.com/news-article/automotive-news/Touch-screen-at-heart-of-Tesla-Model-S/id-4625/

     
  15. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    hmm... hopefully Apple doesn't treat Tesla like they do Samsung.
     
  16. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    They will if Tesla starts making knock-offs like Samsung. I don't feel for Samsung at all. You make a blatant copy and you get sued.
     
  17. pguerra

    pguerra Member

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    Problem is: Samsung mostly gets away with it.

    That's not too cool.
     
  18. pguerra

    pguerra Member

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    #18 pguerra, Jun 14, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
    ...And now this "Android in Model S" discussion brings up the corollaries that's just as important:

    1) Can Model S system crash?
    2) What happens if it does? How dangerous is that?
    3) If it does crash, do I just turn it on/off to reset it like a cellphone?
    4) Can the Model S software ever be unintentionally "bricked"?
    5) Is the Model S software, user upgradable?
    6) Although why would you ever want to do this, I don't know, but: will there be different "skins" or alternate configurations available?
    7) I wonder how you would transfer new apps to the computer.
    8) How much will Tesla charge us for apps?? USD$1000 each?
    9) What happens if a lightening power surge the size of Texas runs through my home....is the Tesla fried?
     
  19. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Sure. So can Ford's, GM's, and Chrysler's. It's happened.

    In the Tesla, I would imagine that in the worst case the car just slows to a stop. In an ICE car it immediately stops because the ICE stops running.

    Depends on the circumstances. The thing about automotive computers is that they are not like your desktop which reboots when things go south, there are a number of more-or-less independent ECUs (the 2004 Prius has either 13 or 14 depending upon the options chosen). These ECUs, besides doing their own function, also listen for signals from other ECUs and can tell if there is a problem, in which case a warning (rather uninformative in the Prius' case) and a code is stored.

    There are reports in the Leaf forum of cars rebooting while driving and nothing happens other than that the display goes black while the system resets itself.

    There are parts of the system that are EPROMs. If an upgrade is interrupted it can prevent a further upgrade until the EPROM is cleared--sometimes this has to be done at the factory so the usual fix is to install a new EPROM and start over. Generally EPROMs are upgraded over wired connections rather than wireless. (e.g. the Ranger will do this).

    I believe there will be several kinds of upgrades: Infrequent firmware upgrades to the EPROMs done by a Ranger--although it's possible that the firmware upgrade could be downloaded to the music storage area and upgraded from there (I don't think this will happen because of the separation between the systems but it's possible).

    Periodic upgrades to the car's operating software done over WiFi (similar to an iPhone upgrade).

    Apps also done over WiFi (similar to an installation from the App Store).

    This is speculated about. Actually, I'd like the ability to change how the dash looks and feels and bring the items that I use the most on the dash rather than having a pre-selected set.

    Over WiFi. The 4G would be too expensive if you get more than one or two apps a month.

    My understanding is that most apps will be from third parties, although Tesla may create a few.
     
  20. pguerra

    pguerra Member

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    #20 pguerra, Jun 14, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 16, 2012
    Damn Jerry you seem to know your $tuff. Thanks!
     

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