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

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

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


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

Right now, we’re trying on the 2022 GMC Yukon, however actually, that is Common Motors’ Android Automotive system, and you will see it rolled out throughout most of GM’s lineup sooner or later. The identical primary setup powers the Hummer EV1, and with the entire parts-sharing that goes on at GM, anticipate to see this technique 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 standard disclaimer out of the best way: This text is not about Android Auto, Google’s tethered telephone app and competitor to Apple’s CarPlay. Android Automotive, absolutely spelled out (it is generally branded as “Google Constructed-In”), means the automobile is one huge Android machine. 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 help 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, “By utilizing this automobile, you comply with Google’s phrases of service.”

The concept right here makes some kind of sense. Customers need their automobile infotainment system to look and work extra like a smartphone does, so why not simply load the car 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 telephone 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, most likely the largest killer app within the automotive business. You additionally get Google Assistant voice instructions and the Google Play Retailer for vehicles, permitting quick access to apps like Spotify and different media gamers.

The {hardware}: 4 screens, three working methods

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

Ron Amadeo

Reviewing a automobile pc is a wierd proposition as a result of the {hardware} is all the time so outdated. Automotive growth takes round 5 years, and when the vehicles lastly get to market, the pc {hardware} is not that thrilling. The {hardware} for our Android Automotive system—which is internally known 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 vehicles 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 lookup Atom A3960 Geekbench scores, and you will see that the pc on this $78,000 car is barely sooner than a $35 Raspberry Pi 4. The GMC Yukon and Polestar 2 each characteristic one of many slowest CPUs you should purchase right now in any type issue.

I am positive the Atom A3960 went via a prolonged certification course of to make sure it will possibly survive the warmth and vibration of a tricky automobile setting, however it’s disappointing to see GMC transport what are principally price range 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} moderately than low-cost Atom components.