Apple and Google have worked hard to get their feet in the car door with CarPlay and Android Auto, respectively, leveraging their smartphone expertise to create a better in-car experience. Now, Volvo and Audi have teamed up with Google to take things a step further and integrate Android into their next-generation cars.
Rather than treating the integration like Android Auto, which only works when a device is connected using a USB cable and relies heavily on the phone's data connection, the next-generation Volvo and Audi setups will actually use Android as the operating system for their infotainment systems.
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Instead of relying on a smartphone app for music streaming, for example, the app could be installed directly onto the car's infotainment system. That means drivers won't need to rely on their phones as much in the car, and aren't left with a second-rate experience if they happen to leave their device at home. Volvo also says embracing the Android ecosystem will allow car owners access to a much wider range of apps than they have at the moment, and the move will make it easier to update older cars with the latest dashboard operating system.
Beyond greater app integration, Google also suggests the system could be woven deeper into the car's controls. That would allow drivers to manage things like the air conditioning, sunroof or windows using the infotainment system. Tesla has already integrated this functionality into the Model S and Model X with an in-house interface, but the system isn't Android-based.
"With the advent of Android we will embrace a rich ecosystem while keeping our iconic Volvo user interface," says Henrik Green, Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Volvo Cars. "We will offer hundreds of popular apps and the best integrated experience in this broad, connected environment."
Google will reveal more details about Android in-car integration at its I/O conference this week. In the meantime, check out what Volvo has to say about it in the video below.