Android Automotive goes mainstream: A evaluate of GM’s new infotainment system

Android Automotive goes mainstream: A review of GM’s new infotainment system


Android Automotive, Google’s working system for vehicles, has traditionally been fairly area of interest, and solely a handful of high-profile vehicles just like the Polestar 2 have used it. Now, although, Android Automotive goes mainstream, and we’re beginning to see a number of the largest automotive producers roll out Google’s working system throughout total lineups.

Right this moment, we’re wanting on the 2022 GMC Yukon, however actually, that is Common Motors’ Android Automotive system, and you will see it rolled out throughout most of GM’s lineup sooner or later. The identical fundamental setup powers the Hummer EV1, and with the entire parts-sharing that goes on at GM, anticipate to see this method pop up in Chevys, GMCs, Cadillacs, and Buicks. With Ford and Honda leaping into the Android Automotive ecosystem within the close to future, Google’s automotive OS will quickly be in all places.

Let’s get the same old disclaimer out of the best way: This text is not about Android Auto, Google’s tethered cellphone app and competitor to Apple’s CarPlay. Android Automotive, absolutely spelled out (it is typically branded as “Google Constructed-In”), means the automotive is one massive Android machine. A pc runs the automotive’s infotainment system, and that laptop runs Android. Even when you’ve got an iPhone in your pocket, that will not change the OS your automotive runs (it does help CarPlay, although). For many fashions, shopping for Common Motors will imply shopping for an Android Automobile. You may see an on-screen message pop up throughout setup saying, “By utilizing this automotive, you conform to Google’s phrases of service.”

The concept right here makes some type of sense. Customers need their automotive infotainment system to look and work extra like a smartphone does, so why not simply load the automobile with a smartphone OS? Then you will get all of the smooth-scrolling, touchscreen-based swipe navigation that folks have come to anticipate from a contemporary laptop. Android Automotive is a Google-blessed OS, and like cellphone corporations, producers like Ford, GM, and Volvo signal offers with Google to license the OS and a slew of Google apps. This automotive has onboard Google Maps, most likely the most important killer app within the automotive business. You additionally get Google Assistant voice instructions and the Google Play Retailer for vehicles, permitting easy accessibility to apps like Spotify and different media gamers.

The {hardware}: 4 screens, three working techniques

The main infotainment screen.
Enlarge / The primary infotainment display.

Ron Amadeo

Reviewing a automotive laptop is an odd proposition as a result of the {hardware} is all the time so outdated. Automobile improvement takes round 5 years, and when the vehicles lastly get to market, the pc {hardware} is not that thrilling. The {hardware} for our Android Automobile system—which is internally referred to as “Common Motors Infotainment 3.7,” or “gminfo37″—is a 5-year-old Intel Atom A3960 SoC with an Intel HD Graphics 500 GPU, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of flash storage.

This isn’t uniquely a GM downside, and the identical CPU exists within the Polestar 2—although that system has solely 4GB of RAM—so we’ll classify each vehicles as “first-generation Android Automotive {hardware}.” The age of the {hardware} is notable, although. Android Automotive does not allow you to sideload apps right into a manufacturing automotive, however lookup Atom A3960 Geekbench scores, and you will see that the pc on this $78,000 automobile is barely quicker than a $35 Raspberry Pi 4. The GMC Yukon and Polestar 2 each function one of many slowest CPUs you should purchase immediately in any type issue.

I am positive the Atom A3960 went via a prolonged certification course of to make sure it may well survive the warmth and vibration of a troublesome automotive setting, but it surely’s disappointing to see GMC transport what are mainly finances PC components from 2016. Even when the five-year {hardware} delay is unavoidable, the corporate might have began with mid-range or high-end 2016 Intel {hardware} relatively than low cost Atom components.

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