Honda’s next Accord will be the automaker’s first vehicle to support Google built-in integration, enabling native Android apps and over the air (OTA) software updates (via Automotive News). It will be included as a standard feature in the top Touring trim of the 2023 Accord, arriving early next year.
If you’re wondering whether Google built-in is new, or just another name for Android Automotive, the company’s vehicle OS, you’re not alone. We emailed the company to clarify for us and received this response from Google’s Communications and Public Affairs Senior Associate Sofia Abdirizak:
Google built-in is not new. It’s the branding we use for cars that support Google Automotive Services (GAS). It refers to when a car has Google apps and services like Google Assistant, Google Maps, and the Google Play Store directly integrated into the vehicle so you don’t need your phone to access them. This is different from Android Automotive OS, and manufacturers have the option to implement AAOS without opting into GAS. Some choose to use both.
And that’s not to be confused with Google’s phone-to-car integration system called Android Auto (like Apple’s CarPlay), which is supported by many cars that don’t have any Google software integration, including many Honda models. The automaker had actually signed up to use Android Automotive last year, at the time saying it would start rolling it out to cars in 2022.
Honda hasn’t revealed if its other vehicles will be getting Google built-in yet. The automaker had previously used custom (and now outdated) embedded Android software in some of its cars, but hasn’t leveraged much of Google’s service offerings. Now with Google built-in, navigation in the Accord will be Google Maps, Google Assistant can be used to control heating and cooling, and music from the Google Play app is just a tap away.
The new Accord Touring will have two screens: a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, and a 12.3-inch center screen. It’s the biggest infotainment screen Honda has ever made, and bigger than Volvo’s 9-inch screen in the XC40 — a car that runs on Android Automotive. Touring will also have 15W wireless charging for phones, a 12-speaker Bose audio system, CarPlay and Android Auto, and a 6-inch heads-up display.
As for Honda’s new vehicle OTA update features, it’ll “add function two, three, or eight years after it’s been sold,” says American Honda VP of CASE and Energy Jay Joseph, speaking to Automotive News. “[It] can really change the dynamics of the ownership experience and the used-vehicle market,” Joseph said.
It’s a new concept for Honda — and many other automakers — to improve owner experiences and add functionality through software updates after purchasing the vehicle. Tesla leads the way in this space by adding dozens of features throughout the life of its vehicles: from enabling its cameras to capture security footage to building a video game library.
With the Honda Accord ranking among the top 25 best-selling vehicles this year, Google has the opportunity to get its vehicle software and services offerings in front of more drivers. With GM, Volvo, Polestar, and soon Ford and BMW signing on, Google is getting set to dominate the connected vehicle space before Apple can garner support for its own upcoming system.
Correction December 16th 9:52AM ET: Added a response from Google to clarify the difference between Android Automotive and Google built-in, a previous version of the article said both were the same. Also added more details of the features included in the Honda Accord Touring.