Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and Google announced a technology partnership to embed the Android operating system in vehicles sold by the automotive alliance starting in 2021.
Under the technology partnership, vehicles sold by the alliance members in many markets will use Android, Google Maps, the Google Play Store, and have the ability to answer calls and texts, control media, find information, and manage vehicle functions with voice using the built-in Google Assistant. The system will also be compatible with devices running other operating systems, such as Apple iOS.
Apps available on the automotive-centric Google Play store for Android Automotive will include iHeartRadio, Pandora, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Telegram, WhatsApp, Android Messages, Google Play Books, and Google Play Music, with more to come.
The alliance says it will integrate Google applications and services into infotainment and cloud-based systems to enhance the experience for customers of Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi Motors brands. While a range of alliance vehicles will share the Android platform, each brand will have flexibility to create a unique customer interface and specific features on top of the common Android platform.
The Alliance Intelligent Cloud is expected to provide next-generation infotainment systems with secure connectivity by offering a platform to integrate data management, infotainment systems, and to facilitate over-the-air upgrades and remote diagnostics in member-company vehicles.
Colin Bird-Martinez, senior analyst, software apps and services at IHS Markit, commented on the announcement, “With a large potential library of apps, hardware support, security support, continuous research and development, customer care support, and maintenance, Android Automotive will be a formidable challenger in the automotive space. While OEMs continue to try and build in-vehicle app ecosystems, there is an open-sourced environment, optimized for the car, where OEMs can save time and money to deploy.”
He added, “OEMs will lose some of the UX ownership, but gain, ironically, a satisfying UX correlated with the car brand, similar to Android’s perception in smartphone markets. This implementation will still whittle away vehicle brand loyalty, but in a future shared use case, the brand can make up for it with a premium service experience.”
The new embedded operating system will debut on Volvo and Audi vehicles by 2020 in select regions, such as the U.S. and Western Europe. Volvo, Audi, Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi, and another large automaker will offer Android Automotive on some of their infotainment head units in the next two to three years.