Matthew BeedhamEditor, SHIFT by TNW
Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.
American automotive giant Ford has inked a deal with Google that will bring Android Automotive to “millions” of cars.
In a Medium post yesterday, Ford announced that it’s partnering with the Big G to help modernize its plants through use of AI, use its cloud services, develop new retail experiences, and create new ownership offers using connected vehicle data.
It also means that Ford will use Android Automotive as the base operating system for its vehicles from 2023, and that’s big, big news.
Why? Ford sells millions of vehicles each year. It’s as simple as that. In the US alone in 2019, the company sold 2.4 million vehicles. Even though it won’t come until 2023, it will put Android Auto at the fingertips of millions of drivers around the world.
[Read: Android Auto vs Android Automotive: What’s the difference?]
Thanks to Android’s open source nature, with millions of cars running the software, it all of a sudden becomes a valuable opportunity for independent developers. It will no doubt lead to many exciting apps, in a totally new context.
Ford hasn’t said what models will get Android Automotive, though. Only that “millions” of Ford and Lincoln cars will.
The American automaker isn’t going full Google on its infotainment system, though. Ford is going to retain a number of its key features, such as its Sync user interface and operating system, which will just be built on top of Android rather than Blackberry QNX, the company’s current system supplier.
The deal makes Ford the latest to join a small, but growing, group of carmakers that are getting on board with Android for their cars. Android Automotive first debuted in the Polestar 2 last year, and will be seen in vehicles from General Motors later this year.
Folks at Google are no doubt swinging from the rafters with joy over this announcement, as it’s going to get its product at the hands of so many people.
It’s also great news for drivers, if you ask me. Having used Android Automotive in the Polestar 2, its voice recognition blew me away, it was simple and intuitive to use, and everything just made sense, because it’s just like using an Android phone, but in a car.
Even these days, infotainment systems can be hit or miss. Google can do software, so let’s have at it. Fords with Android Automotive can’t come soon enough.
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