Android Automotive is an operating system that is completely woven into the car, so you can do much more with it than just navigate and listen to music. We started working with Automotive and tell you all about it in this review.
Android Automotive review: on the go with the Polestar 2
Android Automotive: You may not have heard of it, but you probably have. The whole month of February stands Android Planet in the sign of Android for the car. Would you like to know more about the differences between the two operating systems for the car? Check that out in our Android Auto vs Android Automotive comparison article.
However, here you can read (and see) all our experiences with Automotive, the successor to Android Auto. Before that, we spent some time on the road with the Polestar 2, one of the few vehicles equipped with this integrated system.
Wat is Android Automotive?
Android Automotive is a special operating system integrated in the car itself. So you don’t need a smartphone that you have to connect – as with Android Auto – and it (therefore) also offers more options. For example, Automotive reads all kinds of sensors from your car and you can operate more with it than with Android Auto.
Operation via large tablet
The Polestar 2 is equipped with two screens, with the 11.1-inch screen in the dashboard being touch sensitive. By default you will see four sections that can be partially adjusted. For example, you can pin your favorite music app at the bottom right and switch between the Google Assistant at the top right or view more information about the driving performance.
The top left is intended for Google Maps and the tile at the bottom left makes it easy to view and use your linked phone. At the top you will also find some icons. This way you immediately check the various cameras or dive deeper into the settings of the car. This way you can adjust everything in several areas: driving, driver assistance, loading and more.
For example, you regulate how much force you have to exert to steer or activate the sport mode. You can also switch driver assistance and lane guidance on or off, or check the status of the car, adjust the lighting (both interior and exterior) and adjust the dimmability of the mirrors. All in all, a great discovery angle, with much possible thanks to Android Automotive.
At the bottom of the screen you see larger buttons to quickly adjust the temperature in the car or that of the seat heating. The button to return directly to the home screen can also be found there.
Google Assistant is also on board
Of course, the Google Assistant is also present, so that you can simply control a lot with your voice. In addition to standard options such as playing your favorite artist on Spotify or navigating to a specific place, you can do a lot more with it. Think of controlling the seat or steering wheel heating or the air conditioning.
Use the command “Hey Google? Adjust the seat heating to position 3 ”and the seat in question will start to glow within seconds. If you plan a route, but your battery level is too low, the route will be adjusted so that you can recharge in between. In addition, you can easily link Android Automotive to your existing Google profile and if you also have smart equipment at home, you can already switch it on or off. Handy for the lamps, a welcome music or the thermostat.
The range of apps is (still) very limited
Applications that you want to use at Automotive can simply be obtained from the own Play Store. You can call them up via the big screen in the car, but the offer is still sparse. You will find a handful of music apps such as Spotify, Tidal, YouTube Music and some radio and podcast applications.
Do you want to send or receive a message via WhatsApp, Telegram or Signal? Then you’ve come to the wrong place at Automotive. This also applies to navigation apps, because finding the route is only possible with Google Maps. Waze (available for Android Auto) is also not available for Automotive.
That may be the case tomorrow, because the car is always connected to the internet. App developers do have to prepare their apps for it. For example, they have to work with the large screen and the interface must consist of large buttons and icons, so that everything is easy to operate and does not cause unnecessary distractions.
Which cars is Android Automotive in?
Android Automotive is not as well known as Android Auto. At the time of publishing, you can use Automotive in the Polestar 2 and Volvo XC40 we tested. Not entirely coincidentally, Polestar is Volvo’s ‘performance brand’. It is true that in the coming years more brands will be working with this operating system. For example, cars from General Motors, Ford and Renault are equipped with this.
A word about the Polestar 2: this is a luxury 5-door hatchback with a starting price of around 60,000 euros, has two electric motors and is fully electric. The car is ‘connected’ thanks to a SIM card and of course available in different colors and with different options. Our variant was finished in the ‘Thunder’ color and also included the Performance pack including 20-inch alloy wheels and gold-colored accents.
If you have never driven an electric car before, it takes some getting used to and in combination with Android Automotive there is even more to discover than usual. The acceleration is impressive and the whole of course makes little noise. In addition, it is a machine, so that can also take some getting used to.
Competition from Google itself and Apple, among others
Android Automotive is certainly not the only choice when it comes to making cars (something) smarter. For example, Android Auto is already a competitor from Google’s own stable. You can read our experiences with this Android version for in the car in the review of Android Auto in 2021. The deep (re) integration with the car is missing there and you also need a separate smartphone that you connect to the car. . Android Auto is sufficient if you simply want to navigate, make calls, play music and receive or send messages.
In addition, the Android Auto app range is a lot larger at the time of writing. This way you can get started with more music, navigation and messaging apps. This way you decide whether you want to navigate with Maps, Waze, Sygic (beta), TomTom (beta) or, for example, Flitsmeister (beta). Dictating messages via WhatsApp or Telegram is also no problem. When you receive a message, it will be read by the Assistant.
Apple CarPlay is also on the list as an alternative to Automotive. You can see CarPlay as a variant of Android Auto, but in combination with your iPhone. You therefore connect your Apple smartphone to the infotainment system. Deeper integration with the car is missing there. The well-known manufacturer Tesla does offer this integration and supplies its electric cars with a self-developed operating system.
Then there is the Volkswagen Group with brands such as Seat, Audi and Porsche. There they are working on the development of Volkswagen OS, because they don’t see anything in Android Automotive. That operating system, which is based on Android, should run on many future cars.
Automotive OS in the future
Just like with Android on your smartphone or Android Auto, for example, Automotive is getting more and more options. In addition, all kinds of features are simply added by software updates. After such an update, you can suddenly drive 50 kilometers further, adjust the car better or see even more driving insights. There will also be a private Polestar app for your smartphone. This way you can switch on the air conditioning from a distance, or see how full the battery is, without having to get into the car.
Hopefully we will see more and more possibilities in the range of apps in the Automotive Play Store. In the beginning of Android, the offer on your phone could also be counted on one hand, but now there are millions of apps. As a developer, if you can reach more people with your (optimized) app, that is better than just a little bit early adaptors.
It is not yet predictable exactly how this will manifest itself, but the range of apps certainly also plays a major role in whether Android Automotive will be a great success or not. The same applies of course to the range of vehicles with Automotive, but as mentioned, there are more manufacturers than Volvo and Polestar who are working on this.
Conclusion Android Automotive review
Android Automotive is really the future in our opinion. The software offers much more in many areas than the ‘simple’ Android Auto. In terms of apps, this is currently not the case and that is a shame, because it can make or break Automotive.
In addition, Automotive is currently still far from accessible to as many people as Android Auto is. It is only integrated in two vehicles, for which you also have to pay a large amount of money and ‘just retrofitting’ is also not included.
Who will be the leader of this smart car competition in the coming years is still the question. If Android Automotive develops well in various areas, it can certainly become a major player. We cannot wait to take stock again in a number of years.
Read more about our Android Auto (motive) monthly theme:
Source: Android Planet by www.androidplanet.nl.
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