Google grabbed another major automaker to become the default operating system for cars. Honda will soon begin rolling out vehicles with Google’s embedded Android Automotive OS, which includes Google’s voice-activated assistant, Google Maps, and other automotive-approved Android apps as standard infotainment.
The first Honda vehicles with embedded Android will hit the market in 2022. The Japanese automaker wouldn’t say which models it is likely to receive first with the new infotainment systems.
“We will be working with Google to better integrate Google in-vehicle services into our vehicles, including the ability to more easily use functions such as the Google Assistant, Google Maps functions and other vehicle apps offered through Google Play,” said a Honda -Speaker in an email.
To be clear, Android Automotive is different from Android Auto. The former is the car’s standard infotainment system that controls everything from music to navigation to heating and air conditioning, while the latter is projected onto the car’s dashboard display from a smartphone and serves as a competitor to Apple’s CarPlay. Google also had a number of announcements about Android Auto (which you can read about here).
Only two cars with embedded Android Automotive are available today: the Polestar 2 and the Volvo XC40 Recharge. But Google has agreements with a number of other automakers, including Ford, General Motors, and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, that result in millions of future vehicles being released with standard Android operating systems.
The news that Honda is joining the Android automotive party won’t come as a complete surprise as the automaker’s current operating system has been based on Android for years. Honda was also part of the Google-led Open Automotive Alliance, along with Audi, Hyundai, and chip maker Nvidia, which focused on integrating Android into infotainment in the car.
But it can also be a slippery slope. At first, the auto companies seemed to want to keep big tech companies at bay to prevent them from tapping into the lucrative streams of customer data flowing in and out of their vehicles. But Honda believes that if you let Google under the hood, it can likely sell more cars to customers who prefer a more smartphone-like in-car experience than the operating system software currently provided by the automaker.