Google opens its android infotainment OS to third party apps

Android Automotive — not Android Auto! — is one giant leap for Polestar, but one small step for automotive connectivity

By Naveed Murtaza

Google has opened its Android Automotive operating system (OS) to third-party apps, according to Slash Gear. The OS, which Google first unveiled in 2017, will power cars’ infotainment systems, starting with Volvo’s Polestar 2 electric car.

Google is initially only opening the OS to third-party developers of media applications such as Spotify, but eventually plans to open it to all third-party apps, including those that enable navigation, communication, and more. All of these apps will be available through the Google Play store.

Here What does it mean

No automotive apps have been approved for the system yet, although Google showed off trial apps for the Spotify music service and National Public Radio. The Spotify app looks much like it does in Android Auto, with large print for features such as recent playlists and tiles for suggested music genres.

Ramic also said that it will be up to automakers to approve apps for use in their vehicles once they’ve been approved by Google.

Google promises an intense vetting process. The company said app developers will have limited access and that basic car controls such as the drivetrain will be sandboxed, or isolated, from the Android infotainment system.

Google is starting with media app developers such as Spotify and other entertainment sites. However, the company plans to expand into other categories of apps as well such as navigation, Haris Ramic, Google’s product lead for Android Automotive told TechCrunch in a recent interview

Android Automotive OS shouldn’t be confused with Android Auto, which is a secondary interface that lies on top of an operating system. Android Automotive OS is modeled after its open-source mobile operating system that runs on Linux. But instead of running smartphones and tablets, Google modified it so it could be used in cars.

Polestar introduced in February its first all-electric vehicle, a five-door fastback called the Polestar 2, ahead of the Geneva Motor Show. The Polestar 2’s infotainment system is powered by Android Automotive OS and, as a result, brings into the car embedded Google services such as Google Assistant, Google Maps and the Google Play Store.

Ramic noted that the system shown in Geneva has improved and now has updated Google Maps and a media center that allows third-party applications like Spotify, NPR and YouTube Music to function more seamlessly in the vehicles. These applications will be ready when the vehicle goes into volume production, which is slated to begin in early 2020 at its Chengdu, China factory. The company is initially targeting sales in China, the U.S., Canada and a handful of European countries that include Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the U.K.

Polestar isn’t the only company with plans to incorporate a version of its Android operating system into its car infotainment systems. Volvo announced in 2017 that it would use the Android OS and a year later said it would embed voice-controlled Google Assistant, Google Play Store, Google Maps and other Google services into its next-generation Sensus infotainment system. lvo.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced Tuesday that it will use tech from Harman and Google to build out its connected-car services. Google’s Android Automotive OS will power FCA’s next version of its Uconnect infotainment system, while Samsung-owned Harman’s Ignite cloud platform will handle the out-of-car services.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance has also publicly announced plans for Android Automotive OS as well as other automakers that Google can’t reveal at this time, Ramic said.

“Interest is very high,” Ramic said, noting that a growing number of companies have come to see the value in leveraging Google’s expertise.

That’s a shift from the traditionally protective stance of automakers intent of keeping Google out of the car. But as the divide between the capabilities of smartphones and in-car infotainment systems grows, automakers have been more willing to turn to Google.

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