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General Motors will lean on Google for future vehicle infotainment

Starting in 2021, Chevy, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles will have some familiar Android functions.

GM Android-Based Infotainment
This screen is coming to GM vehicles near you very soon.
General Motors

Following the success of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it's a no-brainer to mirror more smartphone displays with in-car infotainment. General Motors specifically researched the benefits of adding more Google functionality to its cars, and guess what? People apparently really liked that idea.

Thus, GM said on Thursday that starting in 2021, its infotainment systems will lean on Google and its Android operating system to augment standard infotainment systems in Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles. The added functions will see Google Assistant, embedded Google Maps and certain in-vehicle applications built directly into GM infotainment systems without the need for Android Auto.

The automaker isn't giving Google total control, however. GM vehicles will still have their own unique features and the Google systems will complement other offerings, said Santiago Chamorro, GM's vice president for global connected customer experience.

The addition of Google Assistant to GM vehicles will give drivers a familiar voice behind the wheel. GM said drivers will be able to make calls, text and play music with just their voice. For those living the smart home life, GM vehicles will be able to control some smart devices such as the garage door opener, too.

The announcement seemingly appears to end the era of paid navigation upgrades for some vehicles, as Google Maps will be embedded in Chevy, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models starting in 2021. Real-time traffic data and lane guidance is part of Google Maps, and honestly, it's a darn good system. Google Assistant will also understand commands to navigate home and Maps will support the ability to find the nearest gas station, charging station and other points of interest.

GM won't flip a switch and suddenly roll the new infotainment system out, however. The switch to the Google-heavy system will begin in 2021 across multiple regions. "Broad deployment," to use GM's wording, will begin in the following years.

The US automaker isn't the only one to rely on Google and Android. Volvo scrapped plans for a new in-house infotainment system and instead handed over those duties to Google. Unlike GM's solution, Volvo's is all Android, all the time. It'll debut on the Polestar 2 electric car and then reach Volvo models in the years to come.

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