Google introduced a slew of recent options that will probably be accessible to vehicles with native Android software program and Android Auto, together with YouTube, Waze, and video conferencing apps like Zoom, Microsoft Groups, and Webex by Cisco. Extra video video games are additionally coming to Android-equipped vehicles.
However the announcement that streaming video and digital assembly instruments are coming to infotainment screens is bound to pique probably the most curiosity amongst Android customers, particularly as software program builders race to stuff extra options and capabilities into vehicles which have shortly morphed into two-ton computer systems on wheels.
Google teased the flexibility to observe YouTube movies whereas sitting in your parked car final yr. Now, the corporate is saying the characteristic will probably be accessible quickly, beginning with Volvo and Polestar automobiles. Different automakers will observe in brief order.
To make clear, it is a characteristic that can solely be accessible to automobiles with Google built-in, which the corporate describes as vehicles with Android’s working system embedded natively. Vehicles with Google built-in can entry Android apps instantly from the infotainment display and obtain over-the-air (OTA) software program updates as properly.
To date, the checklist of automakers who’re releasing vehicles with Google built-in is comparatively quick — however it’s additionally rising. Along with Polestar, firms releasing vehicles with native Android working programs embody Volvo, Chevy, GMC, Cadillac, Renault, and Honda. Ford has additionally mentioned it might launch automobiles with re-skinned variations of its Sync working system operating on prime of Google’s native Android software program.
Additionally, Google is letting its automotive companions make the choice as to whether or not they wish to supply YouTube to their prospects, noting that the streaming video service is “now accessible for automotive makers to supply in vehicles with Google built-in.”
Beginning with Volvo and Polestar automobiles
Along with YouTube, vehicles with Android Auto are additionally getting video conferencing instruments like Zoom, Microsoft Groups, and Cisco Webex — however solely via audio, whether or not the automotive is parked or shifting. Most automobiles in the present day don’t have in-cabin cameras that may file drivers and passengers for video conferencing, or in the event that they do, these cameras are used completely for driver monitoring programs.
Some automakers have been permitting prospects to make use of in-cabin cameras for video conferencing. Tesla began rolling out Zoom performance late final yr, and the brand new 2024 Mercedes-Benz E-Class additionally consists of video conferencing capabilities. Google wouldn’t touch upon whether or not it expects vehicles with native Android software program to have entry to in-cabin cameras for video conferencing.
Audio-only conferencing and YouTube streaming movies whereas parked sign that Google is taking driver distraction significantly because it rolls out these new options, mentioned Roshan Khan, director of product administration at Google.
“That complexity of dealing with driver distraction, it’s a extremely excessive burden,” Khan mentioned in an interview with The Verge. “And truly, , a whole lot of builders don’t know the right way to navigate the nuances of that.”
Distraction is a significant drawback for contemporary drivers, particularly as infotainment programs turn into flashier and extra sophisticated. A latest examine discovered that drivers choosing music with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto had slower response instances than those that had been excessive from smoking pot. Google has been making an attempt to work its approach via this drawback for a number of years now, however they’ve but to reach at a definitive answer.
“That complexity of dealing with driver distraction, it’s a extremely excessive burden.”
Khan argued that Android’s in-car merchandise, like Android Auto, Google built-in, and Android Automotive, assist be certain that third-party app builders adhere to Google’s requirements for security and lowering distraction, whereas additionally permitting leeway for the automakers to make modifications to evolve to their security requirements.
“And so that enables the developer, Google, and the automaker to type of all play a job with out having to soak up all the complexity of driver distraction simply purely on the developer,” he mentioned.
That mentioned, Khan mentioned he may envision a future through which a few of these new companies, like YouTube and video video games, turn into accessible whereas the automotive is in movement.
“We do imagine that that can segue or remodel into passenger experiences as vehicles evolve,” he mentioned, “as you see extra screens which might be on the passenger facet of the automotive or within the rear seat.”
The information that Waze, the Google-owned navigation app, is coming to vehicles with Google built-in is being framed as excellent news for EV homeowners particularly. Waze has been updating its characteristic choices to raised accommodate electrical automobiles, together with including EV charging stations and utilizing Waze’s crowd-sourcing group to supply extra real-time updates about charger availability and performance.
Google can be making extra instruments accessible to third-party navigation apps to allow them to entry the digital gauge cluster for turn-by-turn directions. Builders may even have the ability to entry automotive sensor information to supply notifications about vary, gas degree, and pace.
“We do imagine that that can segue or remodel into passenger experiences as vehicles evolve”
Lastly, vehicles with Google built-in are getting extra video video games via the Google Play Retailer, together with Seaside Buggy Racing 2, Solitaire FRVR, and My Speaking Tom Associates from publishers like Vector Unit, FRVR, and Outfit7.
Till lately, most automakers have been reluctant so as to add video video games to their vehicles’ infotainment screens. Tesla has a variety of video video games accessible to its prospects, together with well-liked titles like Sonic the Hedgehog, Stardew Valley, and Cuphead. Google’s checklist of video games shouldn’t be almost as well-liked, however it’s a signal that the dam could also be about to interrupt by way of video video games being accessible in folks’s vehicles.
Android Auto has provided video video games via its cellphone projection service for over a yr now, and Khan mentioned the crew was stunned at how well-liked they had been, with over 1 million lively customers. However in the end, these will probably be a part of the “parked expertise” and will probably be unavailable whereas the automotive is in movement. (Tesla infamously and briefly allowed its prospects to entry video video games whereas driving earlier than ultimately disabling the characteristic.)
Curiously, in its press supplies, Google rightly notes that individuals are spending far more time of their vehicles than they ever have earlier than, citing a AAA examine that discovered that Individuals spent a complete of 70 billion hours behind the wheel in 2019. It’s a disaster created by our car-centric world, facilitated by poor city planning, suburban sprawl, and highway designs that actively forestall extra lively mobility options, like biking and strolling.
And now, right here comes Google to present us extra stuff to play with whereas we’re trapped in our vehicles. Khan notes that buyer preferences are altering, so Android is altering to go well with these preferences.
“As demographics shift, we’re getting new people who find themselves driving vehicles who grew up simply all the time accessing purposes and the web and all these issues,” he mentioned. “And it’s unusual to them to be in a automotive the place they’re disconnected.”