In the near future, having Android in the car will mean more than carrying your phone in your pocket while going for a drive.
Both Volvo and Audi will be relying on Android, Google's mobile operating system, for their next-generation infotainment offerings. The announcement is but one small tidbit due to come out of conference this week.
You're probably somewhat familiar with Android Auto, which allows Android users to more easily access vital phone functions while behind the wheel. It gives the car's infotainment screen a simplified user interface, offering up a number of Android apps without requiring the owner to physically manipulate the phone.
Volvo and Audi will be taking that one step further by basing their infotainment systems on Android. Audi's MMI infotainment system has been kicking around for years, but Volvo's Sensus Connect system is relatively new. This partnership doesn't mean the automakers will have to ditch their current setups entirely. Automakers can always recreate current interfaces, so buyers can remain comfortable -- this is just a foundation, so to speak.
However, there are advantages to using Android as that foundation. Both Audi and Volvo, and any other automaker that uses Android, will have access to a vast library of current and future Android applications, whether the developer is Google, the automaker or a third party. Third-party app development for infotainment systems is hit or miss, depending on the automaker, but using Android should change that.
"With the advent of Android, we will embrace a rich ecosystem while keeping our iconic Volvo user interface. We will offer hundreds of popular apps and the best integrated experience in this broad, connected environment," said Henrik Green, SVP of research and development at Volvo, in a statement.
Volvo users won't have to wait until the next generation of Sensus Connect to take advantage of this partnership. Volvo will add Google Local Search to its slate of current cars equipped with Sensus Navigation through an update.
If you happen to be at Google I/O this week, both Audi and Volvo will have infotainment demonstrations available, so you can get a better idea of what these automakers hope to achieve.
Google I/O 2018
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