Google has partnered with Volvo to build a next-generation infotainment system into future vehicles as part of a push to corner the rapidly growing connected car market and take on Apple CarPlay.
New Volvo cars released in two years will feature Google’s next-gen system that runs on Android. But unlike Android Auto, the new system won’t require a smartphone to operate. That gives Google access to drivers who might use services like Google Maps in their cars, but don’t own Android devices, ensuring its services and apps are in continual use.
The partnership is also meant to improve the customer experience by better integrating apps and services into cars rather than shoving phone screens into car displays. Drivers will be able to access apps developed by Android, Google, and Volvo.
“Google’s platform and services will enhance the user experience by enabling more personalization possibilities, while Android will offer increased flexibility from a development perspective,” Henrik Green, Volvo’s senior vice president of research and development, wrote in a press release.
Google will show off live demos of the system at its annual I/O tech show on Wednesday.
Customers have generally been reluctant to use in-vehicle systems that can be clunky and difficult to use. In fact, more than 50% of car owners never used their infotainment systems after 90 days of purchase, according to a 2016 study led by J.D. Power.
That’s problematic for car companies that are investing heavily in the data-generating entertainment systems. McKinsey & Co. predicts Big Data from cars will become a $750 billion industry by 2030.
The Android operating system won’t send any data to Google on its own, but drivers that use apps like Google Maps or Spotify can elect to share data to improve services.
The move will give Google a stronger foothold in the auto tech market and the potential to use data that could be useful for its other platforms.
As Bloomberg points out, it could also set the foundation for Google to introduce its artificial intelligence system Android Auto into vehicles. Apple currently has an edge of Android Auto by integrating Siri into its in-vehicle system.
Meanwhile, for Volvo, the move could help encourage consumer adoption by improving the in-vehicle experience.