A Blog by Jonathan Low

 

Sep 10, 2019

Why GM Has Turned To Google For In-Car Apps And Voice Commands

Customers like having all of their systems across platforms look and feel familiar.

GM likes having a high quality solution that is plug and play and which permits it to allocate scarce resources away from technologies with which it is, at best, an also-ran and thus less expensive to source. JL


Mike Colias reports in the Wall Street Journal:

GM plans to offer Google Maps, as well as its voice-activated assistant and Google Play app store, as a built-in multimedia app, so drivers can access them on their dashboard displays without having to pull out their smartphones. Customers have told GM they want a similar look and feel to what they experience on their smartphones and other mobile devices. The deal with GM, the U.S.’s largest auto maker by sales, is a win for Google (which) wants to broaden its services to flow seamlessly among its customers’ devices, from laptop to smartphone to a vehicle. “They like an embedded solution that’s similar digital ecosystems they carry all day."
General Motors Co is forging a closer alliance with Alphabet Inc.’s Google, agreeing to build the tech giant’s apps directly into its vehicles’ touch-screen displays.
The Detroit car maker plans to offer Google Maps, as well as its voice-activated assistant and popular Google Play app store, as a built-in multimedia app, so drivers can access them on their dashboard displays without having to pull out their smartphones.
The rollout will start in 2021 across GM’s four main brands—Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC—and the Google apps will eventually be available on millions of GM vehicles sold globally.
GM today offers similar mapping and voice-recognition features in its vehicles, mostly a mix of supplier-provided technology and software developed internally.
The deal with GM, the U.S.’s largest auto maker by sales, is a win for Google in its expansion into the car business. The tech company wants to broaden its ecosystem of services and apps to flow seamlessly among its customers’ devices, from laptop to smartphone to the media display in a vehicle.
The two companies didn’t disclose financial terms.
Auto makers have struggled to offer customers the type of digital experience they get with their smartphones and other devices. Their dashboard interfaces over the past decade have been glitch-prone and have often led to customer gripes that dragged down their results in third-party quality ratings.
With buyers wanting to use popular smartphone apps in their cars, auto makers are leaning more on tech companies to deliver such experiences.
Some are working to offer versions of Amazon.com Inc. ’s Alexa voice assistant, for example. Many also have added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which allow users to display a smartphone-like interface on the car’s touch screen, but only when their phone is plugged into the vehicle.
Many auto makers already use Google’s Android operating system to run at least some multimedia functions, but more are turning to the company to deliver specific services like the Google Play app store. GM will join the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance and Volvo Cars in offering built-in Google apps and services through the touch screens in their vehicles.
Other auto makers, however, including Germany’s Volkswagen AG , have been reluctant to cede control to Google or other tech players and are sticking with their own digital interfaces.
GM a few years ago began using Google’s Android operating system to power its multimedia display, but continued to offer its own navigation maps and suite of apps. Customers have told GM they want a similar look and feel to what they experience on their smartphones and other mobile devices, said Santiago Chamorro, head of GM’s connected-car business.
“They like an embedded solution that’s similar to all these digital ecosystems they carry with them in their hands all day,” he said.
Customers must give permission for the companies to collect data from the services they use, he said.
GM will continue to offer its own proprietary multimedia features, such as those related to its OnStar safety service and apps that flag potential mechanical problems or enable users to order coffee and gas from certain merchants, Mr. Chamorro said.
Auto makers are hoping to expand such connected-car services to forge deeper ties with customers and generate reams of data that can be funneled into developing new products or sold to third parties.

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