Harley-Davidson Motorcycles Will be First to Support Android Auto
Harley-Davidson motorcycles will be the first two-wheel vehicles to offer Android Auto. The Touring, CVO, and Trike models will start offering the Google Assistant-powered infotainment system starting this summer.
Though it is the first time it will be available on a motorcycle, Android Auto will function as it does in a car, with navigation, calls, and music streaming options available after an Android smartphone is connected via a USB cable. Unlike most Bluetooth displays, Android Auto can be entirely controlled with Google Assistant and the screen on the motorcycle once the smartphone is hooked up and calibrated.
The three motorcycle models will be the first to have Android Auto, but Harley will start including the feature in all of its vehicles with its Boom! Box GTS infotainment system in 2021. Android Auto is also not the first voice assistant-enabled system on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Apple CarPlay has been an option on some motorcycles since 2018. Both platforms offer versions of the Harley-Davidson app, which includes motorcycle and Harley-specific advice on routes and the location of places to stop.
The partnership Google and Harley-Davidson struck to bring Android Auto to motorcycles marks another step toward voice assistants becoming truly ubiquitous on the road. According to a Capgemini Research Institute report, close to three-quarters of drivers will use one by 2022. There’s a lot of competition between the platforms that might fill those cars, with Alexa and Google Assistant both rapidly integrating into new vehicles along with those built by carmakers in partnership with big names in voice tech like Cerence and SoundHound. Google, specifically, has been experimenting with new ways to bring Android Auto and Google Assistant to drivers. A recent update made Android Auto capable of replacing the factory settings of a car’s voice assistant, and there’s a new wireless version of Android Auto under testing.
Motorcycles have been slower to adopt voice assistants, but there is evidence that that is starting to change. For instance, Jarvish has built a smart helmet that integrates Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant into its display. Honda, meanwhile, is looking to apply smartphone integration into motorcycles via the technology it acquired when it purchased Drivemode. The “Smartphone as Brain” feature aims to make connecting and controlling a smartphone safer for motorcyclists. Once the device is connected to the motorcycle by Bluetooth, the driver can control it by voice or with steering handle switches, without the need to take their hands off the handlebars. Harley-Davidson moving ahead with adding Android Auto to its vehicles is no small matter, though. It puts the concept of voice assistants in motorcycles firmly in the mainstream.