At CES 2024, Google is revealing some new features for people to use Android Auto phone mirroring in their cars as well as for those who drive cars with Google’s native Android software.
Electric vehicle owners will soon be able to share real-time battery information with Google Maps through Android Auto, allowing them to see an estimate of how much battery capacity will be left when arriving at a destination.
This feature was already available to cars with Google built-in and now will be available to Android Auto users, starting with the Ford Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning “in the coming months.” Other EVs will be eligible in the near future.
People who own cars with native Google apps, also known as “Google built-in,” will also be able to send driving directions from their smartphone directly to their car. This feature will be OS agnostic, so anyone with an iPhone or Android device can use it.
“Google built-in” is the company’s marketing term for Google Automotive Services (GAS), which is the licensed product that it sells to car companies that want to have certain features, like Google Maps, Google Assistant, and the Google Play Store, as the default on their infotainment screens. GAS runs on top of Android Automotive, which is when the native operating system of the vehicle runs on Android.
Chrome browsing is also coming to certain vehicles with Android Automotive, starting with certain Volvo and Polestar vehicles. Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said the company had been “waiting a long time” for Chrome browsing to come to its cars, offering the Vivaldi browser as a holdover until it was ready.
“This is now, of course, a much more convenient solution,” Ingenlath said in an interview. “The Chrome browser, it’s connected to your account and has all the knowledge about your preferences and everything. So that becomes a nice feature.”
Google is also adding new apps to cars with Google built-in, including video streaming services like PBS Kids, Crunchyroll, and The Weather Channel app.
The company has been adding new features to both Android Auto and Google built-in pretty steadily over the past few years. The new features come at an uncertain time for in-car software, with safety experts warning about distracting interfaces and major automakers like GM restricting access to phone-mirroring programs like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.