Volvo Will Embed Remote Google Assistant Commands and YouTube App in Cars
Google announced that owners of cars with Google built-in will soon be able to warm up, unlock, and check the battery by asking Google Assistant on a Nest smart speaker or other Google Assistant-enabled device at home. Volvo will be the first to ship cars with the capability, one of several automotive upgrades unveiled this week at CES.
The remote voice controls are part of a deeper integration of Google Assistant, including new voice commands when driving to activate alerts for when the car may be accidentally crossing a lane or when it’s time for a service check. The upgraded vehicles will also embed Google Play on the infotainment screen, giving access to the far wider array of apps previously limited to mobile devices or smart displays. That includes playing YouTube videos, but the cars include a safety measure so that YouTube won’t play unless the car is parked. Volvo may be the first to sell cars built with Google’s Android operating system, but GM and others were not far behind, and the same goes for the new technology.
“Volvo Car Group was first to introduce Google technology and services in our cars and we are now looking to be the first to integrate fully with Google Assistant-enabled devices – it is a natural next step in our partnership with Google,” Volvo chief product officer Henrik Green said. “This integration allows us to improve the customer experience immensely, as it gives customers the possibility to easily and securely manage their car while at home or on the go, through any personal device that has Google Assistant.”
Android Auto Insert
For those without the built-in version, Android Auto has several upgrades as well. The new digital car key feature lets owners of some BMW models unlock and start their cars with Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel smartphones. The next step, set to arrive this year, will use Ultra Wideband (UWB) tech so that the car will unlock merely by being near the phone and drivers can remotely share their digital key with others. Android Auto is also rolling out a one-tap Fast Pair connection feature and a way for Lyft drivers to operate their version of the app directly on their screen. And while most Android Auto connections are wireless, Google and Motorola are releasing a wireless adapter that will handle connecting a phone to a car without plugging the phone into the vehicle.
The cluster of upgrades stands out from the more measured pace of feature introduction over the last year or so. They fit with the trajectory of other additions, however, like the option to pay for gas by asking Google Assistant at tens of thousands of gas stations, the new look of Android’s Driving Mode, and the recent inclusion of Google Assistant’s smart replies and voice-enabled music searches to Android Auto.
“Now available on nearly 150 million cars around the world, Android Auto brings the best of Google onto your car display via your Android phone. Most of the world’s top car brands are bringing wireless Android Auto to their newest models, meaning you never need a cord to connect,” Android for Auto product director Mickey Kataria said. “Also, with new accessories like the Motorola MA1 wireless adapter, you can now enjoy the wireless Android Auto experience even if your car doesn’t have wireless support built-in. Connected via USB, the adapter stays in your car and wirelessly projects Android Auto from your phone to your car display as soon as you step inside.”