Volvo teams up with Google to develop next-gen infotainment using Android Automotive

Published: 09 October 2019

► Volvo teams up with Google again
► Next-gen infotainment on e-XC40 
► Uses Android Automotive OS 

Volvo is launching a new-generation infotainment system in collaboration with Google. It will be fitted first to the all-electric XC40 which is being unveiled on 16 October 2019, marking a major step forward in the Swedes’ in-car tech.

The new infotainment is powered by Android Automotive and is designed to work seamlessly with the Google suite of services, such as Google Maps, Assistant and the Play Store for apps.

The Swedes claim they are the first company to launch a fully integrated infotainment system based on the Android Automotive OS, the open-source platform for cars. It means the world’s developer community will be able to launch apps and services for Volvos – and the new infotainment system will benefit from over-the-air updates so the tech improves over time.

Volvo launches new Google Android Automotive OS in new XC40 electric

‘We are finally giving you the same experience in your car that you’re used to on your phone, but adapted for safe interaction while driving,’ said Henrik Green, Volvo’s chief technology officer. ‘And by introducing over-the-air updates for everything from maintenance to completely new features, the car can stay as fresh as your other digital products, always with the latest and greatest features.’

CAR magazine has been a fan of the latest Volvo Sensus touchscreen tech, but it has been let down by old-school mapping. If the new OS can keep the simplicity and ease of use combined with new and improved features, it could be on to a winner.

Features of new Google Android Automotive OS on future Volvo cars

In the same way that Apple CarPlay provides an interface familiar to uses of iPhones, so Android Automotive packages its user interfaces into a layout with which Android phone users will recognise. Highlights promised by Volvo include:

  • Music and media available through Google Play Store
  • Google Assistant allows voice operation of heating, media and messaging
  • Smarthome devices can be run from the car too
  • Google Maps includes real-time traffic and rerouting data
  • Electric car charging tips and guidance embedded in OS

It’s just another example of the car as extension of your smartphone. Integrating users’ digital lives with their physical ones is a key objective of many manufacturers. And it looks like Volvo might have just made an important leap forwards in the race to modernise their in-car tech.

More car tech stories by CAR magazine

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet