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Audi, Volvo say Android Auto coming to their cars

Sections: Infotainment, Installations

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Android Auto Volvo XC90 Touchscreen press photo

The portrait-oriented large touchscreen in the 2015 Volvo XC90 will be among the first to be compatible with Android Auto, the interface that promises to fully integrate Android OS into car infotainment systems. (Photo courtesy Volvo Cars)

Both Audi and Volvo say they will offer Android Auto, the infotainment interface based on Android’s smartphone and tablet OS structure.

A press release from Audi said Android Auto will provide a seamless link for Android mobile car apps to function through the Android MMI infotainment system. Audi also used the press release to remind everyone of its status as a founding member of the Open Automotive Alliance, a group of automakers who vowed to work together to bring open-source, mobile device-integrated infotainment environments to cars — specifically Android OS. The release said the OAA is committed to building an open infotainment ecosystem around a common platform in an effort to drive innovation in the car, allowing automakers to deliver cutting-edge technology more quickly to drivers.

Audi AG Head of Development Electrics/Electronics Ricky Hudi said, “As the leader in the emerging field of connected car technologies, Audi recognizes the importance of meeting our customers’ mobile technology needs on their terms, but we should only do this through innovations, such as Android Auto, that reduce distractions and improve performance.”

So here’s how Android Auto will work, according to Audi:

After connecting an Android smartphone in a compatible Audi, drivers will see a prompt asking if they want their apps to function through the MMI touch display and controls. The graphics and audio streams, including microphone input and all control interfaces will then operate with Android Auto which is seamlessly integrated into the Audi MMI mobile media application framework developed by the Audi software joint venture e.solutions on top of the QNX Car automotive operating system.

Apps showing multimedia video content or text heavy displays will be disabled while the car is in motion, a feature that is standard in all Audi MMI systems. Drivers can easily switch from the Android view and the Audi infotainment functions as desired, or upon disconnecting their Android phone.

The addition of Android Auto in forthcoming models will not make Audi models incompatible with other smartphones. Audi has a proven track record of improving the integrated access to mobile devices in its vehicles while focusing first on avoiding distractions for drivers.

A press release from Volvo said the integration of Android Auto into Volvo cars will bring features and services familiar to Android smartphone and tablet users directly into the car via the automaker’s large, portrait-layout touchscreen display first shown in the XC90.

Volvo Cars President and CEO Håkan Samuelsson said, “Google’s approach to user-centricity and the application of technology to improve peoples’ everyday lives makes Android Auto a perfect addition to the Volvo experience.”

With its new touchscreen looking a whole lot like someone grafted a 10-inch tablet into the dash a’la Tesla, Volvo said the interaction between Android Auto and its new infotainment interface will “transform” the look and feel of a car’s interior, with Volvo choosing to set itself apart by its combination of high-tech features with simplicity and functionality also being given a great deal of attention.

Samuelsson said, “We have worked hard to ensure an enjoyable user experience with Android Auto. This will offer our customers a new degree of fluidity and accessibility in the usage of their mobile devices, and bring the digital ecosystem our customers already enjoy into the car, complementing Volvo Cars’ existing connected car services and applications.”

The release said the portrait-oriented touchscreen will allow simultaneous display of both Android and Volvo connected car content — an advantage over smaller, landscape-oriented screens that may require the user to toggle between Android and OEM features.

Samuelsson said, “Android smartphone users will feel completely at home in a new Volvo. We have created a wholly-integrated user experience in our large portrait-oriented touch screen that takes the in-car mobile device experience to a new level. That, coupled with the obvious driver safety benefits of an advanced voice control system offered by Google, made Android Auto a perfect match for Volvo.”

Android Auto will be available on the first Volvo to get the new touchscreen: the new XC90.

Interesting to note: As we told you much earlier, Volvo is one of the automakers who will be offering Apple CarPlay within its infotainment structure, as well. While the automaker said this two-OS decision was made based on the fact that it would allow Volvo to cater to the vast majority of smartphone and personal electronic device users, it is heartening for this Android user to see that Volvo isn’t going to allow that old, easy stereotype about Volvo drivers being synonymous with brainwashed Apple users to go unchecked.

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