Volvo and Google’s Android Automotive invite app developers to get creative
The next gadget, game or widget in your car could be designed by the teenager next door — at least if Volvo has its way.
The Swedish company has announced its upcoming all-electric brand will allow third-party developers to design apps for use in the car, opening the world of in-car entertainment up to anyone from professional developers to aspirational programmers.
Using the new Android Automotive operating system developed by Google, the apps could be anything from digital interpretations of the classic car game I-spy to detailed turn-by-turn mapping systems or car-specific audio apps that add more than the current crop. Maybe an app that allows you to customise the sounds emitted from your EV while driving?
“The Android platform which we have introduced in Polestar 2 has so much potential for innovation that we immediately identified the chance to engage with the developer community,” said Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath.
“Together with Google, our own digital team has created an exciting interface in the car, and we know that this system will enable great opportunities. We look forward to inspiring new ideas that could make the digital experience in Polestar 2 even better.”
Trying to kickstart the creative juices, Polestar has given examples of the sorts of apps possible on its developer.polestar.com website. They include an “immersive music experience that intelligently adapts to your journey” and “seamlessly finding and paying for parking right from your car”.
Polestar is not the only early adopter of Android Automotive, which is an all-encompassing operating system separate to Android Auto, a simpler app programmed into many cars as a rival to Apple CarPlay. Others planning to use the Android Automotive operating system include Fiat, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Renault, with other yet-to-be-announced brands reportedly also planning a shift.
The shift by major car makers to allow tech companies to control the operating systems in their vehicles is significant.
Typically, manufacturers have been protective of their data and the look, feel and functionality of the graphics and software that is playing a much bigger role in the vehicle.
They’ve also been conscious that the smartphones and tablets Google and Apple specialise in typically have life expectancies that are a fraction of that of a car, causing potential hiccups down the track if software doesn’t keep up with expectations or the latest hardware.
Clearly Google has succeeded in earning the long term trust of car makers increasingly turning to technology companies for partnerships.