Volvo Looks to Supercharge Infotainment With Android

Android will go deeper into cars with an infotainment platform from Volvo based entirely on Google’s mobile OS, with Google Maps, Assistant and Play included.

The Android version of Volvo’s Sensus software platform will debut in the next couple of years, Volvo announced on Monday, May 7.

The announcement came on the eve of the Google I/O conference and advances a plan that Google unveiled at last year’s I/O.

The software for entertainment, navigation and interior controls in most vehicles is developed in-house by car companies. But many consumers choose to connect their phones to the vehicle and use a platform like Android Auto or Apple CarPlay that runs on top of the built-in software.

A growing number of models can now work with those systems.

Those phone-based platforms take advantage of the app stores and years of user-interface development behind the major mobile operating systems. With Volvo’s built-in Android-based software, and other systems expected from Audi and other automakers, car owners will get those benefits without needing to buy a certain phone or plug it into the car.

Android won’t operate fundamental components like the engine or brakes but will govern mechanisms such as air conditioning, windows and seat positioning, Google said when it introduced the effort last year. With Google Assistant integrated into Sensus, drivers and passengers will be able to control those features using voice commands. They will also be able to use Assistant for standard infotainment functions like music and messaging.

The navigation system will run on Google Maps, which has proved more popular than many automakers’ built-in map platforms due to its familiar interface and rich, up-to-date data.

Google Play integration will expand Sensus to include thousands of other car-focused apps from Google and third parties, Volvo noted. Google and Volvo will coordinate the selection of apps offered on Sensus, Volvo spokesman Jim Nichols told The Connected Car in an email. Thanks to Android being integrated into the vehicle, it will be possible to make software updates and new apps available in real time and automatically applied. Volvo currently offers in-car 4G connections through AT&T that could carry that data.

Though it’s going deep into Android with the upcoming version of Sensus, Volvo won’t abandon Apple fans. Apple CarPlay will be included as an app in the fourth tile of the home layout of Sensus, Nichols said, so drivers will be able to plug an iPhone into the car and get that interface on the console screen if they choose.

Sensus is standard on all cars built on Volvo’s SPA platform, such as 60-series and 90-series vehicles, and CMA platform, namely the new XC40 SUV. That will continue with the transition to Android, Nichols said.

Volvo won’t be alone on the Android bandwagon.

At last year’s Google I/O, Audi also presented an Android-based infotainment system, with integrated Google Maps, Assistant and Play, as part of its Q8 sport SUV concept. Earlier, Fiat Chrysler Automotive and Google had demonstrated an Android-based version of FCA’s Uconnect dash system at CES 2017.

At the same CES, Panasonic announced an Android-based infotainment platform.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *