Google partners with Audi, Volvo to bring Android to next-gen cars

Moving beyond Android Auto, Google's latest partnerships extend the full Android OS into vehicles.

Google is bringing the Android operating system beyond smartphones and directly into cars.

The company announced Monday it's partnering with Audi and Volvo to bring Android-based infotainment systems into their next-generation vehicles.

"That means your car's built-in infotainment system could allow you to control your air conditioning, sunroof, and windows, find the nearest restaurant with Google Maps, listen to Spotify or NPR, or just ask your Google Assistant for help--even when you leave your phone behind," wrote Android product manager Haris Ramic in a blog post.

The new systems will be previewed this week at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif.

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Google Local Search integrated in-car app from Volvo.

The new partnerships take Google beyond Android Auto, an app that specifically provides drivers with navigation, streaming audio, and communications services. Three years since its launch, Android Auto is now supported by 300 car models and aftermarket stereos.

Extending the full Android OS into vehicles puts Google in a better position to gain from the anticipated proliferation of connected devices. According to a Cisco report published earlier this year, machine-to-machine connections (which includes automotive) will represent 29 percent (3.3 billion) of total mobile connections by 2021. That's up from 5 percent in 2016, making it the fastest growing mobile connection type.

Using Android as the base operating system, Volvo said in a statement, "will increase speed and flexibility in the development and offer its customers the ability to personalise the connected in-car experience." The new Android OS will be available with new Volvo models within two years.

Read more: Google brings Android Auto to every car | Can Android run iTunes or FaceTime? (And more top Google queries answered) | Microsoft adds Cortana voice assistant access to Android lock screen | 7 tips for taking better pictures with Android (TechRepublic)

The partnership will give its customers access to a wide array of apps and services, including Android apps developed by Google, Volvo, and third parties. While embracing Android's "rich ecosystem," Volvo plans to keep its own user interface, Henrik Green, SVP of Research & Development at Volvo Car Group, said in a statement.

Volvo also said it's collaborating with Google on a separate initiative to add Google Local Search to recent Volvo models.

Along with integrating Android into vehicles, Google's parent company Alphabet has ventured into automotive with Waymo, its self-driving car business. Waymo announced over the weekend that it's collaborating with the ride-hailing company Lyft on autonomous vehicle technology.

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