Google moves An­droid into the car with Volvo

New sys­tem will let you con­trol ev­ery­thing from car’s air con­di­tion­ing to its win­dows.

Android Advisor - - Contents - MICHAEL SI­MON re­ports

An­droid Auto may not get as much at­ten­tion as Waymo, Google’s more ex­cit­ing and mys­te­ri­ous self-driv­ing car tech­nol­ogy, but it’s chug­ging along. While no cool new fea­tures were un­veiled at I/O – we’re still wait­ing for the Waze in­te­gra­tion we were promised at last year’s event – Google’s clearly been busy putting An­droid Auto di­rectly into cars.

Right be­fore I/O, Google an­nounced a part­ner­ship with Volvo and Audi to in­te­grate An­droid Auto right into the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, no phone re­quired. We got

to see the Volvo V90’s An­droid-pow­ered nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem in ac­tion, and it’s a big up­grade from the rel­a­tively small screens we use now.

The ver­ti­cal-mounted gi­ant dis­play was sim­i­lar to the Tesla’s (though not quite as big). As soon as you turn the car on, it comes to life with four tabs to select from: Google Maps, the most re­cently used app, Phone, and Studio. At the bot­tom of the screen is a set of cli­mate con­trols that let you ad­just the tem­per­a­ture or turn on the heated sets, but you don’t have to touch the screen to op­er­ate them. Just say, “OK, Google, turn up the air con­di­tion­ing,” and your car will start to get cooler.

Google Maps doesn’t re­quire a phone to op­er­ate, but if you bring one along, all of your searches and trips will be synced. You’ll also be able to make calls through your phone (iPhones too, of course). There’s no ded­i­cated messaging in­ter­face, though you will be able to see and re­ply to no­ti­fi­ca­tions from your phone.

Avail­able apps mir­ror those that work with An­droid Auto (which means there aren’t too many avail­able yet), but pop­u­lar ser­vices such as Spo­tify and Pan­dora are rep­re­sented. When you’re lis­ten­ing to mu­sic, you’ll be able to ad­just the sound using the Studio tab, which gives you a stan­dard set of speaker con­trols, in­clud­ing a fader, and bass and tre­ble.

Swipe right and you’ll see op­tions for things like the backup cam­era, the car’s fuel-sav­ing ECO driv­ing mode, and cruise con­trol. There’s a but­ton on the steer­ing wheel to bring up Assistant (or you can say “OK, Google”). Be­cause the screen is re­sis­tive and not ca­pac­i­tive, it’ll work when you’re wear­ing gloves, too.

We asked about up­dates. While they tech­ni­cally can be de­liv­ered over the air (OTA), the en­gi­neer we spoke to said they were still fig­ur­ing out the how to push them out with­out dis­rupt­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence.

Our big­gest take­away from my demo was just how much An­droid Auto has ma­tured. It’s hard to see when we’re run­ning it in our cars now, but Google has given its in-car OS an over­haul that should mo­ti­vate other car mak­ers to climb on­board. It’s more el­e­gant than nearly ev­ery other nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem we’ve used, and hav­ing Google Maps built-in is a ma­jor sell­ing point.

Just like reg­u­lar nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems, car mak­ers can opt to al­low for Ap­ple’s CarPlay to be over­laid. That would be tricky with the Volvo V90’s ver­ti­cal screen, while the Audi uses a more stan­dard land­scape dis­play that would faithfully ad­here to Ap­ple’s in­ter­face. The built-in An­droid Auto looks so good, it’s hard to imag­ine any­one opt­ing to re­place it, even if you’re fully in­vested in the Ap­ple ecosys­tem.

The Volvo V90’s dis­play lets you con­trol things such as the air con­di­tion­ing with maps and mu­sic

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.