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Another look at Saab's Android infotainment platform

Saab's new infotainment system is Android-based and open source.


Although it's one of the smaller makes in the automotive industry, Saab revealed an infotainment system that shows it still can hang with the big boys.

Making its debut in the Phoenix concept car this week at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, the Saab iQon is an Android-based infotainment system that uses downloadable apps to bring navigation, entertainment, and diagnostics functionality into the vehicle.

Saab's iQon similar to GM's MyLink or Toyota's Entune infotainment system--both of which use a QNX-based platform--but instead of relying on the user's mobile phone and data plan for a connection, Saab uses an embedded modem to connect to the Internet when the car is turned on. This means that even if you forget to bring your phone or don't have an unlimited data plan, you'll still be able to listen to Internet radio stations in the car. That said, no information on pricing, connection speed, or network availability was given. It also isn't clear how the system will function if the driver looses connectivity in a rural or mountain areas.

And the iQon is more than just an 8-inch touch screen smartphone installed in the dash. The infotainment system is widely integrated with the vehicle and can be used by dealerships for remote service checks. It could also be used to deliver new features and functionality to the car, according to Saab. In addition to internet applications, the Android community will be allowed to develop apps for the open-source platform that access car systems. Using the iQon API, developers will be able access 500 vehicle sensors, such as speed, temperature, steering angle, and yaw rate. However, all apps will undergo internal review review for safety, security, and hopefully, malware. The platform is being beta tested and is rumored to be implemented in the 2012 Saab 9-3.