Homegrown cab aggregator Ola has announced a strategic partnership with tech giant Microsoft to develop a new connected vehicle platform for car markers. As part of the newly-forged alliance, Ola has named Microsoft as its preferred cloud provider.\r\n\r\nIn an official statement, the ride-sharing startup stated that, henceforth, Ola Play will be powered by Microsoft Azure cloud computing service.\r\n\r\nThe move is aimed at improving driver and passenger experiences through better vehicular diagnostics, in-car productivity, advanced navigation and predictive maintenance, among other things.\r\n\r\nOnce developed, the connected vehicle platform will be made available to car manufacturers globally.\r\n\r\nCommenting on the development, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at the announcement, \u201cToday\u2019s car is quickly becoming the ultimate computing device and together with Ola, we\u2019re focused on providing more intelligent, connected and productive experiences to our customers. The combination of Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and our AI platform with Ola Play will deliver new customer experiences and business opportunities across the automotive ecosystem.\u201d\r\n\r\nEnvisioned as an upgraded version of Ola Play, the new system will be built by leveraging Microsoft\u2019s AI, IoT and productivity tools. As stated by Nadella, the platform will boast a number of additional features including telematics and navigation guidance as well as cloud-based infotainment.\r\n\r\nThe telematics technology, according to Satya, will add intelligence by providing information about fuel efficiency, engine performance and driver performance. Additionally, it will enable smart navigation, driver assistance and predictive maintenance to ensure safety.\r\n\r\nFrom the customer's\u2019 side, Ola Play users will now be able to utilise productivity tools like Office 365, Skype for Business and voice-assisted controls by Microsoft Cognitive Services in-car during rides.\r\n\r\nFor customised offerings, the connected vehicle platform is also programmed to collect, analyse and remember data about user behaviour.\r\n\r\nElaborating further, Ola co-founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said, \u201cGlobally, the auto industry is experiencing a seismic shift as the definition of automobiles is increasingly changing from gas-powered vehicles to technology-packed, connected devices. With Ola Play, we have already set the tone for connected vehicles in India; together with Microsoft, we can make the new platform available to a larger, global audience and unlock futuristic experiences for customers worldwide.\u201d\r\nAn Overview Of Ola\u2019s In-Car Entertainment Platform, Ola Play\r\nLaunched in November last year, Ola Play is an onboard entertainment system that was originally available to Ola Prime customers in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi. Since then, the service has expanded to six additional cities across India. These include Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai.\r\n\r\nAt the time of its launch, Bhavish made ambitious claims saying, \u201cI believe this will completely transform the consumer\u2019s ride experience, giving the user the power to control the interactions within the car and usher in a new era in the ride-sharing industry. With over 60 Mn minutes spent in Ola rides every day, the impact on consumer comfort, convenience, and productivity can be transformative. This will\u00a0further propel ride-sharing as the first choice of mobility for many more millions.\u201d\r\n\r\nThrough the service, Ola offers customers access to a variety of custom features like video and music streaming, for which it has partnered with Qualcomm, Mahindra and Mahindra, Apple Music, Sony LIV, Audio Compass, Fynd, EROS Now, POPxo, and FastFilmz to build an interactive experience for users.\r\n\r\nUsers can take control of the in-car experience from the Driver Console, which enables interfacing with the consumer\u2019s device during a ride. Customers can have the Ola Play experience from their own devices or from the large screen devices mounted in-car, along with car\u2019s surround sound systems.\r\n\r\nIn June 2017, Bengaluru-based Lahari Recording Company reportedly registered a complaint of copyright infringement against Ola\u2019s parent company ANI Technologies. According to reports, the complainant that the cab aggregator was streaming pirated music via its platform Ola Play. Later in August, the cab aggregator joined hands with\u00a0TV streaming app YuppTV to offer customised live TV options to Ola Play users.\r\n\r\nInterestingly, Microsoft has close ties with another Indian unicorn, Flipkart. In addition to being one of the startup\u2019s chief investors, Microsoft currently serves as the tech partner of the ecommerce giant. In September this year, the multinational technology company\u00a0joined hands with Flipkart to deploy AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning)-based solutions. The move was aimed at making future sales on the online marketplace faster and more efficient.\r\n\r\nHaving raised $1.1 Bn funding from Tencent, Softbank and others, Ola\u2019s war chest is currently filled to the brim. With rival Uber also building its own connected vehicle system, the cab aggregator is doubling down on its efforts to attract more customers. Through its partnership with Microsoft, Ola is leveraging the demand for customised content to build a smarter, more interactive version of Ola Play for both drivers and customers.