Here's How Android Automotive OS Works

Illustration for article titled Here's How Android Automotive OS Works
Image: Volvo

While the new all-electric Volvo XC40 still hasn’t been officially shown to the public, Volvo has been keeping us well-updated with all the cool shit the new EV will have. And that includes introducing Android Automotive OS, a brand-new operating system that debuts on this car designed to level up Volvo’s infotainment game.


Android Automotive OS is a result of Volvo teaming up with Google, as per the press release. The XC40 will have Google Maps, Google Assistant, and Google Play Store built-in—which means drivers will be able to download as many car-adapted apps as they like. Volvo has its own infotainment systems, obviously, and they’re used in the automaker’s new tablet-sized touch screens. But the Swedish company heavily implies Android Automotive OS is how things will go on future Volvos.

Rather than just being an app that interfaces with your smartphone like Android Auto, Android Automotive OS is built right into the car itself as its native system. That means you don’t need an Android-based phone to use it, either.

Here’s more from Volvo:

The new system offers full integration of Android Automotive OS, Google’s open-source Android platform, with real-time updates to services such as Google Maps, Google Assistant and automotive apps created by the global developer community.


This same rich and fresh map data will be used to improve the capabilities of the XC40’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) by providing important information such as speed limits and curves in the road to the car.

Basically, this means the infotainment system in your Volvo will be capable of updating its software and OS via its own integrated WiFi, so the XC40 shouldn’t ever be plagued by the whole “shitty outdated infotainment system from four years ago” problem that seems to arise every time a newer, better model year is introduced. This seems a great use for over-the-air updates.

It’s a very good idea. As more and more people use in-car apps, the technology is only likely to get better, which means all Volvo needs to do right now is make sure its infotainment system is ergonomically pleasing. After all, it’ll be able to funnel updates any time Volvo works out a kink.

It remains to be seen exactly what this tech will be like in reality. But with the XC40 making its debut on October 16, it won’t be long before we find out.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.



It’s about damn time. That being said - I have some questions.

1. does it REQUIRE a data connection to work? i.e. do maps work if Im out of service?

2. Does voice control require service?

3. What does google get out of the deal? can I opt out of data aggregation? I understand use data is already sent back to manufacture that have data connections...what control do I get over what gets sent...and to whom?

4. I assume Volvo is still going to charge infotainment prices for a UI they didn’t invest in? Does Volvo even have to pay for this or does it come with the expectation that the collected data is the fee? Im very interested, if you can’t tell, as to who the “product” is here. Is it Volvo? or is it me? or both?

5. Do I have to agree to a EULA to Volvo or Google here?

Look, Im totally for Infotainment being software upgradable, but there are some big questions here being swept under the rug by generic indy pop stock music.