More video streaming, weather, and web conferencing capabilities are coming to Android Auto and cars with Google built-in. And that includes digital key functions as well.
It’s a bit mix-and-match for this announcement. Android Auto users are getting some new stuff, Google built-in customers getting others, and a lot is dependent on which make and model you own. So bear with me here.
Android Auto, the system that allows you to mirror your Android-powered smartphone on your car’s interior dash display, is getting some new web conferencing features. These include WebEx by Cisco and Zoom — but both are audio only. That means you can join your meetings from the road without being worried about how you appear or about being distracted by your office crush.
It’s a bit mix-and-match for this announcement
Cars with native Android software, also known as Google built-in, got Zoom and WebEx, as well as Microsoft Teams, way back in May of this year. So this is Google announcing that Android Auto customers (which represent the bulk of the user base for these systems) are just now catching up.
Speaking of distractions, Google is also bringing Prime Video to a few of its cars with Google built-in. These include models from companies like Renault, Polestar, and Volvo. (Polestar, which is owned by Volvo’s parent Geely, put out its own press release about the new addition.) Chromium-based web browser Vivaldi is also joining the Google built-in party.
The apps, which are obtainable through the Play Store, are only accessible while parked, so think of this as a way to pass the time while charging your electric Polestar or Volvo vehicle. Also watching video or playing games from your car’s main display while driving is a horrible idea. and the government will definitely investigate you if you try to offer it to people.
Google has slowly been adding more video streaming apps to its native Android platform, having already announced the inclusion of YouTube earlier this year. Meanwhile, Tesla owners have been chilling out to Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube since 2019. But, you know, better late than never.
Google built-in cars are also getting The Weather Channel’s app through the Play Store. You can even get a “Trip View” that allows you to see the conditions ahead as you plan out a road trip, for example.
Being able to use your phone as a “digital key” with which to operate your vehicle is often held up as the height of cars-as-smartphones discourse. What better way to demonstrate the computerization of the modern vehicle than the ability to use your phone to unlock the dang thing?
Google is offering Android users digital key functionality — but very selectively. It will only be available “on select Hyundai, Genesis and Kia models in the U.S., Canada and Korea, for drivers with compatible Pixel and Samsung devices like the Pixel 7 Pro and Samsung S23+.” So you’ll need to have the right car and the right phone to make it all work seamlessly.
The company says it’s “looking forward to continuing to grow support with additional automakers in the coming year.”