Panasonic and Qualcomm have launched an Android-based in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) platform, but as with a similar offering from Google and Fiat Chrysler, it isn't Android Auto. Rather, the companies are aiming create a smartphone-like Android Nougat system with high-end specs, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820Am automotive processor with Adreno 530 graphics, 680 DSP and a high speed LTE modem. Automakers can them customize it to their own specs and install it as a factory OEM system. The goal was to create future-proof hardware that so that consumers won't have a comically dated in-dash system in a few years. "We expect it [to] include features beyond that of the next two in-vehicle infotainment generations ahead," says Panasonic Automotive President Tom Gebhardt.
Android Auto and CarPlay are both pretty great. You plug your smartphone into your car and you're greeted with a familiar set of icons. Why wade through a confusing interface, when two of the biggest tech companies in the world have made it easy for you to use the map and media apps you already know. But in the tech world, if you're not constantly improving, something else will appear and automakers, they're not sitting around. At Google I/O, the search and data-collection giant announced a modest, yet important update is coming to Android Auto.
Volvo's all-electric performance car brand, Polestar, tweeted out a teaser link for Google's new HMI (human machine interface) system which is expected to debut in the automaker's upcoming Polestar 2 later this year. The tweet itself contained little more than a pair of grainy closeups purportedly to be of the vehicle's infotainment system and a link to the demo app itself, which can't be viewed on the desktop -- you'll need to navigate to https://hmi-app.polestar.com/ The app itself shows off a fairly standard infotainment display, albeit on powered by Google-brand products. Navigation duties are handled by Google Maps, Google Calendar handles your social and business event scheduling, Google Play Music and Spotify take care of the in-car entertainment while drivers can use either the hands-free Phone feature or Hangouts for communication. Basically, it's all the stuff you want from Android Auto (including Assistant) baked directly into the car's infotainment system.
In order to make vehicle infotainment life easier for Mercedes-Benz drivers, the brand has opted to add Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa into all 2016 and 2017 Mercedes-Benz vehicles. This means owners can interact, start and ready their vehicle while still in their home. As you can see in the video below, the home concierge devices will transfer their abilities into the car, but only to an extent. Both Google Assistant and Alexa will send prompts to the Mercedes-Benz infotainment system, but owners can not interact with Google Assistant or Alexa from inside their car--they can only click yes or no.