Android Automotive goes mainstream: A overview of GM’s new infotainment system

Android Automotive goes mainstream: A overview of GM’s new infotainment system
Android Automotive goes mainstream: A overview of GM’s new infotainment system


Android Automotive, Google’s working system for automobiles, has traditionally been fairly area of interest, and solely a handful of high-profile automobiles just like the Polestar 2 have used it. Now, although, Android Automotive goes mainstream, and we’re beginning to see a number of the largest automobile producers roll out Google’s working system throughout total lineups.

Right now, we’re wanting on the 2022 GMC Yukon, however actually, that is Common Motors’ Android Automotive system, and you may see it rolled out throughout most of GM’s lineup sooner or later. The identical fundamental setup powers the Hummer EV1, and with the entire parts-sharing that goes on at GM, anticipate to see this method pop up in Chevys, GMCs, Cadillacs, and Buicks. With Ford and Honda leaping into the Android Automotive ecosystem within the close to future, Google’s automobile OS will quickly be all over the place.

Let’s get the same old disclaimer out of the best way: This text is not about Android Auto, Google’s tethered cellphone app and competitor to Apple’s CarPlay. Android Automotive, totally spelled out (it is generally branded as “Google Constructed-In”), means the automobile is one huge Android gadget. A pc runs the automobile’s infotainment system, and that pc runs Android. Even if in case you have an iPhone in your pocket, that will not change the OS your automobile runs (it does assist CarPlay, although). For many fashions, shopping for Common Motors will imply shopping for an Android Automotive. You will see an on-screen message pop up throughout setup saying, “Through the use of this automobile, you conform to Google’s phrases of service.”

The concept right here makes some type of sense. Customers need their automobile infotainment system to look and work extra like a smartphone does, so why not simply load the automobile with a smartphone OS? Then you will get all of the smooth-scrolling, touchscreen-based swipe navigation that folks have come to anticipate from a contemporary pc. Android Automotive is a Google-blessed OS, and like cellphone corporations, producers like Ford, GM, and Volvo signal offers with Google to license the OS and a slew of Google apps. This automobile has onboard Google Maps, in all probability the largest killer app within the automotive trade. You additionally get Google Assistant voice instructions and the Google Play Retailer for automobiles, permitting easy accessibility to apps like Spotify and different media gamers.

The {hardware}: 4 screens, three working methods

The main infotainment screen.
Enlarge / The principle infotainment display.

Ron Amadeo

Reviewing a automobile pc is a wierd proposition as a result of the {hardware} is at all times so previous. Automotive growth takes round 5 years, and when the automobiles lastly get to market, the pc {hardware} is not that thrilling. The {hardware} for our Android Automotive system—which is internally referred to as “Common Motors Infotainment 3.7,” or “gminfo37″—is a 5-year-old Intel Atom A3960 SoC with an Intel HD Graphics 500 GPU, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of flash storage.

This isn’t uniquely a GM downside, and the identical CPU exists within the Polestar 2—although that system has solely 4GB of RAM—so we’ll classify each automobiles as “first-generation Android Automotive {hardware}.” The age of the {hardware} is notable, although. Android Automotive would not allow you to sideload apps right into a manufacturing automobile, however search for Atom A3960 Geekbench scores, and you may see that the pc on this $78,000 automobile is barely quicker than a $35 Raspberry Pi 4. The GMC Yukon and Polestar 2 each characteristic one of many slowest CPUs you should buy as we speak in any kind issue.

I am positive the Atom A3960 went via a prolonged certification course of to make sure it might survive the warmth and vibration of a troublesome automobile surroundings, however it’s disappointing to see GMC delivery what are principally finances PC components from 2016. Even when the five-year {hardware} delay is unavoidable, the corporate may have began with mid-range or high-end 2016 Intel {hardware} slightly than low cost Atom components.