In all ways, Google is digging deeper into the automotive world

Photo credit: Google

Google unveiled a range of new in-car features and services including video conferencing, gaming and YouTube at its Google I/O 2023 event on Wednesday as the tech company continues its push into the automotive world.

The company has entered the automotive space through two avenues: through Android Auto, an app that runs on the user’s phone and communicates wirelessly with the car’s infotainment system and projects navigation, parking, media and news onto it, and through Google Built-in is based on the Android Automotive operating system and integrates Google services directly into the vehicle. Android Automotive OS is modeled after its open source mobile operating system running on Linux. But instead of powering smartphones and tablets, Google has modified it so automakers can use it in their cars.

Google’s goal is to advance the entire connected car experience. And it’s successful.

Google has become so commonplace in vehicles that Android Auto is expected to be available in around 200 million vehicles by the end of the year, the company said at its annual developer event.

Google also said it expects the number of Google-enabled cars to double by the end of this year, including from brands like Chevrolet, Renault, Volvo, Polestar and Honda. (Google hasn’t disclosed how many vehicles have Google built-in today). That means even more cars will be integrated directly into Google apps and services like Assistant, Maps and Play.

Here’s a summary of what’s coming:

More ways to stream and play

Image source: Google

Google announced on Wednesday that it will make YouTube available to all vehicles with Google capability built-in, starting with Polestar.

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YouTube joins a list of other available video streaming apps like Tubi and Epix Now.

In the coming weeks, Polestar vehicles will begin showing YouTube as an option to download and stream on the car’s Google Play Store. According to Google, other car brands that have integrated Google will soon follow. According to the company, OEMs only need to go through their respective software update processes to integrate them into their cars.

You may also remember that earlier this year Mercedes struck a deal with Google to integrate YouTube and other apps into future vehicles.

Speaking of things to do while waiting for an electric vehicle to charge or curbside parking, now folks who own cars with Google built-in can also play games from GameSnacks, a collection of bite-sized games like Solitaire, Beach Buggy Racing, and Meine Talking Tom Friends from publishers such as Vector Unit, FRVR and Outfit7 Limited.

GameSnacks is already available on Android Auto and is used by nearly a million players a month, according to the company.

Get more done

Android Auto works with Cisco, Microsoft Teams and Zoom to enable conferencing. This means users will soon be able to join a call right from their car’s display. This feature will only allow users to join via audio for now.

Google-integrated cars will soon have stronger integration with the Google Assistant as well. According to the company, cars will see smart suggestions for messages over the next few months.

I use crowdsourcing navigation as a guide

Google bought Waze, the popular navigation app, back in 2013. Rather than integrating Waze’s technology into Maps, Google has kept the separate product even when Google merged the Waze and Maps teams last December amid pressure to cut costs.

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In March, Waze introduced the ability for users to find a nearby charging station through the mobile app. And because it’s Waze, the community of volunteers makes sure users are up to speed on all the facts before they ride, such as: B. whether the charging stations actually work or whether it is the right type of plug.

On Wednesday, Waze announced plans to include users driving Waze in-car via Android Auto, Google Built-in, or Apple CarPlay. This means that drivers can now get this information on the in-car display without having to use their mobile phone.

Adding to the Android for Cars app library

In 2020, Google opened up its Cars App Library for developers and OEMs to design, develop, and test apps for navigation, parking, or charging that are compatible with two different, but sometimes overlapping, platforms: Android OS and Android Auto. It also means that developers can create an app that works seamlessly between different vehicle makes and models. The library has templates that developers can access to ensure their apps meet driver distraction standards.

The Android for Cars App Library, available as part of Jetpack, was created to support the Android Automotive operating system, which is based on the Android Automotive OS. Many third-party developers like Spotify have used the Android for Cars App Library to build and publish their Android Auto apps to the Play Store. When Google took the step of extending the Cars app to the operating system in 2020, it meant developers only had to build once.

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At Google I/O Day, Google expanded the types of apps developers can put in cars with Android Auto to include Internet of Things (IoT) and weather apps. All developers can access the IoT category, however, Weather is still in an Early Access program. As part of this, the Weather Channel app will be available later this year.

Additionally, developers looking to develop passenger and parking experience apps can now bring video, game and browser apps typically available on tablets to cars and distribute them directly through Play. And with Google Voice Assistant built-in, developers have the option to build Assistant integrations into their apps for more hands-free interactions.