The automotive giant said it will add new options for a voice assistant and embedded navigation and in-vehicle applications to its infotainment systems, which already run on Android, in some vehicles from 2021. Broad deployment across all GM vehicle brands is "expected to roll out in the years following". GM said it will also continue to provide its own infotainment features such as vehicle health status and in-vehicle commerce.
Drivers will be able to ask the built-in Google Assistant to do the things the smartphone version can do – like make calls or play a radio station, plus more vehicle-specific tasks like close the garage door or change the temperature in the vehicle. GM said the Assistant integration will continue to evolve over time, so drivers will be able to do things like check their tyre pressure or schedule a service. Using the embedded Google Maps with Google Assistant will allow travellers to do things like find their way or share their ETA without needing a phone, while the integrated Google Play store will allow drivers to find apps designed specifically for in-vehicle use.
In-car infotainment is a big focus for automotive and tech companies right now.
Car makers want new features to attract new buyers and also want to make sure they don't lose out on potential new digital revenues, which could happen if drivers are simply happy to use their smartphones for navigation and other services.
GM said its own research, albeit from 2017, shows that many customers prefer an embedded technology experience in the vehicle, rather than using navigation and other apps on their smartphones, which is the option many drivers also use today.
Meanwhile tech companies – most obviously Google, Apple and Amazon, but also Microsoft and others – want to see their services win the attention of drivers and passengers.