Flyme Auto: The New Kid on the Block That Puts Android and CarPlay to Shame

Flyme Auto operating system 11 photos
Photo: Meizu
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Apple and Google currently spearhead the software revolution in the car, but Chinese firm Meizu has just launched a new operating system that makes its rivals feel outdated.
Called Flyme Auto, the new system powers a completely new experience behind the wheel, as it brings the mobile phone and the car in total sync.

While many might consider it an alternative to Android Auto and CarPlay, it’s much more than that. Flyme Auto was developed to be deeply integrated into the vehicle, so it sports capabilities that aren’t even available on Android Automotive and the new-generation CarPlay.

As compared to its rivals, Flyme Auto is supposed to be significantly more dynamic. As such, it offers more advanced customization options, including a live desktop.

Flyme Auto OS
Photo: Meizu
This means you can set as background everything from a typical wallpaper to information pulled from the real world. For example, the live weather conditions could be used as a dynamic wallpaper on the screen. Information like the current battery level and tire pressure would be displayed in widgets on top of the background.

The live desktop feature can adapt to the current time of day or weather conditions. Similar to the dynamic wallpaper on macOS, for instance, it can use a dark mode during the night. If it starts raining, the background can change from a sunny image to reflect the current conditions.

The main screen, referred to as Meizu as the desktop, can also play other roles. For example, it can display relaxing images, with the system also playing calming sounds. The experience can be enabled when you are parked, such as when charging the battery. The interface can extend to all displays in the car, including the one integrated into the instrument panel.

Flyme Auto OS
Photo: Meizu
As a typical desktop, it also includes a so-called smart bar similar to the taskbar on a Windows computer. It provides instant access to essential vehicle functions, such as the air conditioning settings, but also to apps and car information. It can display the current battery level, show the next turn for the navigation route, and let you control the music playback.

In some ways, this approach is similar to the Android Auto Coolwalk bar which also uses a dynamic configuration to display navigation information and music playback controls.

What makes it more like a full computer is the ability to have multiple apps on the screen at the same time. While Android Auto Coolwalk and the CarPlay Dashboard do this already, Meizu is using a way more advanced approach.

During navigation, users can fire up additional applications that run in dedicated windows on the screen. They can be moved across the screen, so they wouldn’t obstruct the information that you consider to be the most important. Meizu says video calls would also be allowed, but most likely, they would only be supported when the vehicle is not in motion.

Flyme Auto OS
Photo: Meizu
Speaking of video calls, the connection between the phone and the vehicle allows the infotainment unit to also use certain capabilities of the mobile device. For example, the phone’s camera can be used for video content during meetings, with the content then displayed on the main screen in the cabin.

Gaming is another essential part of Flyme Auto. The system will be able to run games on the display, and the phone will play the role of a wireless controller. The sound will be routed to the car’s speakers for a more immersive experience.

The operating system comes with a built-in digital assistant, and Meizu has developed AI-powered capabilities for more natural conversations. In addition to standard tasks like opening certain apps or adjusting the air conditioning, it also supports providing answers that look inspired by ChatGPT. The digital assistant would be able to assist drivers with information on how to change a tire, adjust the tire pressure, or make an appointment for regular car maintenance. Everything would be powered by voice commands.

The integration between the phone and the car also allows applications to roam across devices. If you listen to music when you get into the car, Flyme Auto launches the audio application on the dashboard, picking up from where you left off. This way, the music listening experience isn’t interrupted, as it’s seamlessly transferred to the car.

Flyme Auto OS
Photo: Meizu
The operating system looks very fluid and full of animations that turn its interface into an aesthetically pleasing piece of software. The transition from one app to another, as well as the effects generated when adjusting settings, such as the climate settings, make it look lively and modern.

Meizu is now part of Geely, the company that also owns Volvo, so don’t be too surprised if this operating system eventually makes its way to cars sold in Europe. Sure enough, the transition to Flyme Auto would take time and would be quite a challenge, even for Volvo. At this point, both Volvo and its very own Polestar insist on Android Automotive, so it’ll be interesting to see if the carmakers end up switching to Flyme Auto eventually.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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