Volvo to fit new Android Auto in-car tech

Volvo Android Auto
26 Jun, 2014 12:50pm Jordan Bishop

Google reveals new Android Auto infotainment interface, with Volvo the latest manufacturer to sign up

Google has unveiled its Android Auto interface, a new piece of software that integrates your Android smartphone into the car’s infotainment system.

Similar to Apple’s CarPlay set-up, it works by making standard Android features available within the car but in a simplified form.

This sees phone-based apps like Google Maps scaled down to the bare essentials, with access managed via voice and steering wheel controls, or directly through the car’s touchscreen.

In a video posted online (below), Android’s director of engineering Patrick Brady describes the system as combining “the best of both worlds”, offering “the connected apps and services on your smartphone with the physical controls that were optimised for driving”.

The clip goes on to demonstrate how Android Auto allows drivers to set reminders that’ll alert them on the move or on their phone if they’ve left the car. There’s also access to Google Search and Play Music, as well as text messages and specially adapted downloadable apps.

It’ll arrive in vehicles later this year, with Audi, GM, Honda and Hyundai having already signed up as part of the Open Automotive Alliance – a group of technology and automotive companies working to bring the Android platform to cars.

Volvo is the latest manufacturer to come onboard, confirming today that Android Auto will be available in the forthcoming second-generation XC90 following its public debut at the Paris Motor Show.

The Google-developed interface will make its way to all new Volvo models built on the Swedish brand’s Scalable Product Architecture, an identical arrangement having been agreed for Apple CarPlay, too.

On top of this, Volvo has confirmed its portrait touchscreen is designed to allow users to display both its own and Android’s content simultaneously, removing the need to switch between the two.

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This is a worrying development and possibly a retrograde step that could put off potential customers, firstly how will those without android software compatible phones or no mobile at all be disadvantaged and secondly touch screens in cars are ergonomically difficult to use compared to systems with a central controller (as BMW and Audi have proven beyond doubt) and even worse quite possibly dangerous, as your eye hand coordination is seriously effected. Last but not least for anyone who wares contact lenses but needs reading glasses for text, will find these touch screen systems almost impossible to focus on quickly, as they are too close to the driver (I know this for a fact, because I have this very issue as do three million other drivers or just about anyone over 50).
Also seems crazy that ones choice of vehicle could be influenced by your mobile.

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