Google has (finally) officially revealed its “Android Automotive” in-car infotainment system. The company has signed a deal with Audi and Volvo to move forward with a car-focused version of Android to market, with Google building and licensing the OS for automakers just as it does for phone OEMs. Both Audi and Volvo will develop Google’s variation of automobile Android into “their next generation” of automobiles.
Today Google’s only spot in the automobile market is Android Automobile, which is not an OS. Android Auto is a “casted” interface that works on a mobile phone and utilizes the in-dash vehicle screen as an external touchscreen monitor. This new effort (called “Android Automotive” in Google’s Android compatibility documentation) is a complete operating system that runs directly on the vehicle’s onboard computers.
Google has displayed 2 variation of the infotainment system before. One with a Google-designed interface, which would be same as a “Pure Google” Pixel phone, and one that has been skinned with a custom interface from Fiat Chrysler, which is same as what Android mobile phone partners like Samsung and LG do.
The photos consisted of the announcement speak volumes. They show Volvo’s skinned version of an Android-based car infotainment system. It looks very near to what Volvo ships in automobiles today, with an iPad-shaped screen, a cool “accordion” interface, a pull-down top panel, and bottom a/c controls. None of the Google interface endures in this demo of Volvo’s system.
Several automakers consisting of Honda and Hyundai ship Android on cars today, however without Google’s participation. This results in ancient variations of Android working on automobiles that never get updated. Honda delivers the 2012-era Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean on the 2017 Honda Accord; Hyundai is even worse, delivering Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
What Google gives the table is a modern-day underlying version of Android, Google apps such as Google Maps, and some kind of app solution for third-party apps like Spotify. Google’s app service is a huge concern for this vehicle Android OS– is there a variation of the Google Play Store on-board? Are the Android Automotive apps differing from Android Auto?
A demo of the system will be on screen at Google I/O later on this week.