Google and Apple took over car infotainment systems several years ago and neither have looked back, taking the in-vehicle infotainment experience far beyond anything that any car manufacturer ever accomplished or could ever hope to accomplish. Google has today announced a few updates to their respective car software including Google Assistant Driving Mode, Android Auto and Android Automotive.

Google Assistant Driving Mode

This is Google’s on-device driving mode where it allows drivers to get things done, on their phones, with their voice, with Google Assistant without having to leave the navigation screen. This is especially handy for users who have older cars with woeful in-car experiences such as that on Nissan cars more than a year or so old.

It is different from Android Auto in that instead of just being used to entertain and navigate it adds more functionality such as sending emails etc, all using Google Assistant. This is finally available in the US today and is rolling out to other countries in the “coming months”.

Android Auto

Android Auto is now available in over 100 million cars on the road and is supported by nearly every major car manufacturer. The newest partner, which will affect so many EFTM readers, is Porsche with Android Auto rolling out this year on their new 911 models.

Google also announced the expansion of wireless Android Auto to more manufacturers including Ford, BMW and Kia and to six new countries (it is already here in Australia). You can check out more Android Auto features in this YouTube video.

Android Automotive

This is where the entire infotainment system is powered by Android and the system is able to access Google Apps and Services including Google Assistant and more apps directly from Google Play on the car screen — without the use of a phone. This allows you to control the car system settings such as temperature using your voice or getting speed alerts spoken to you or showing up on your cluster. App updates take place over the air via Google Play.

Android Automotive arrived first on the Polestar 2 and with Polestar apparently arriving later this year in Australia it will be great to get a look at that experience. Google also signalled cars also coming from Volvo, Nissan, Renault, Ford and more with the Android Automotive experience in 2021. You can check out the Android Automotive experience on an electric Hummer here.

Google has opened up their Automotive APIs recently and we have already seen apps from Sygic and more and this is expected to grow exponentially as more developers create apps for your in-car experience.