One of the areas that Google talked up regarding Android beyond phones at I/O this year was in vehicles, and Android in the Car was the main way it’s expanding its in-car presence. The expansion of its Android Auto software offers deeper integration with vehicle infotainment and climate control systems, and putting Assistant front and center for more voice control inside the car and out.
The system offers Google Maps navigation, of course, as demoed in a Volvo V90 outfitted with Android in the Car specifically for demonstration purposes. But it also offers easy access to your cabin AC and heat, and you can ask the Volvo to simply cool things down or heat them up to turn the air on or off. The Android-based OS also can control windows, the sunroof and more.
You can also use Assistant-compatible smart home devices from the comfort of your car’s cockpit via voice commands. Our guide for the experience, Google Senior Product Manager Haris Ramic, showed us how this works using Hue light bulbs and a Nest learning thermostat, mounted for demo purposes on a wood backdrop meant to simulate your house.
Basically, Android in the Car means that you can take a lot of your mobile experience with you, and now that Assistant is getting improved cross-device features and Google’s really pushing it with developers, this should be very good news for consumers.
We still have to wait a while for this to arrive in cars you can actually buy: Volvo says that it’ll be debuting on new cars sometime within two years, but it isn’t getting more specific than that.