Google is teaming up with car manufacturers including Audi, Honda and Hyundai to integrate its Android operating system into their dashboards.
It would allow the apps and music on Android smartphones and tablets to work better with onboard car systems.
Rival Apple has already signed similar deals with BMW, GM and Honda.
In a blogpost, Google announced that, along with GM and Nvidia, it would form the Open Automotive Alliance to "speed up innovation" in the car industry.
"Millions of people already bring Android phones and tablets into their cars, but it's not yet a driving-optimised experience," said Patrick Brady, director of Android engineering.
"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?" he added.
It is expected that Audi and Google will show off some of the systems at the CES show in Las Vegas this week.
The car was fast becoming the next battleground for technology firms, said Ovum analyst Jeremy Green.
"From car makers to the makers of car components, from the big software names to the telecoms players, everyone is piling into this market," he said.
"People spend a lot of time in their cars and Google wants people to use its services wherever they are. Searching is something you do a lot of in the car," he added.
Google already has its eyes set on drivers. As well as developing a self-drive car, it has also added a traffic layer to Google Maps, sourced from other Android users, to inform users about traffic jams and other road issues.
Last summer the search giant acquired crowd-sourced traffic app Waze.
Connected cars is likely to be a big theme at this week's CES tech show in Las Vegas.
"A lot of the focus is on entertainment, how to get Spotify and other services into your car," said Mr Green.
But he added that other apps were also beginning to launch - such as systems that sent diagnostic information directly to garages to allow mechanics to prepare for car services.
"There are also systems that allow users to remotely lock or unlock vehicles or even turn on the air conditioning before you get in the car," he said.