A Blog by Jonathan Low


Jan 27, 2019

How Google Plans To Own Your Car's Infotainment System

Could be very cool and a nice sync with your other systems. But when you buy or lease a car, who owns the Google system - and what rights do you have to use it without being forced to pay for upgrades you may not want? JL

Sean O'Kane reports in The Verge:

Google has spent the last few years working (somewhat quietly) on an Android-based operating system for cars that doesn’t require the use of a smartphone. It will tap into a car’s system-level operations, meaning you could ask Google Assistant to turn on the heat, turn off the seat warmers, or even book maintenance appointments. The system is also customizable to suit carmakers’ differing styles, giving them more control than they get with projected Android Auto (or Apple’s CarPlay, for that matter).
Google has spent the last few years working (somewhat quietly) on an Android-based operating system for cars that doesn’t require the use of a smartphone. Built on Android P, it’s meant to be far more advanced than the existing version of Android Auto, which simply projects a phone interface onto a car’s infotainment screen. It’s also supposed to be a more robust solution than some past infotainment systems that were built on forked (and very old) versions of Android without much help from Google, if any at all.
We’re about to get more familiar with this new in-car Android experience, though. Google has struck deals with Volvo and Audi to start rolling out these systems in 2020, and over the last year, we’ve seen a few examples of what they will look like.
This new Android-based system would offer the benefits of modern Android Auto (like access to the automotive-approved app ecosystem on the Google Play Store). It will tap into a car’s system-level operations, meaning you could ask Google Assistant to turn on the heat, turn off the seat warmers, or even book maintenance appointments. The system is also customizable to suit carmakers’ differing styles, giving them more control than they get with projected Android Auto (or Apple’s CarPlay, for that matter).
This opens up all sorts of interesting new questions about the future of in-car infotainment systems. Google’s had its share of platform battles in the past. Is this another new frontier in that fight? How much of a sea change are we in for? And how does Google view these multiple, disparate versions of Android in the car? I sat down with Patrick Brady, the head of Android Auto, at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month hash it all out. We started by catching up on where projected Android Auto is today, but we eventually talked about everything from bringing the tech to motorcycles to making aftermarket systems with native Android and much more.
Also, to be clear, Google tells me it refers to this new platform as both “embedded” or “native” Android and “embedded” or “native” Android Auto, though it prefers the former — or more simply, “powered by Android.” (Brady and I use some of these terms interchangeably.)
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Patrick Brady: For Android Auto, what we call our “projected solution,” where Android Auto’s running on your phone and connects to a compatible car, I think adoption is not really the question at this point. And we’re now at a point where we’ve worked with over 50 different car brands and getting it launched everywhere. We’ve expanded our geographic coverage. So just a short time ago, we launched in South Korea, we launched in Taiwan, we launched in South Africa and several other countries, and we’ll continue to do that and make it more available. The big focus now is going to be on improving the core experience. And so we, just a while ago, in November last year, it seems like decades ago, right?
Sean O’Kane: Monday feels like decades ago at this point, honestly.
We launched an update that improves the media experience. Traditionally, we had kind of two models for playing media. You could talk to the Assistant and have it play something for you. And that’s great for when you know what you want to play. But sometimes you’re thinking, “Oh I want to play Coldplay, but I can’t remember the name of the album.” Then we had browsing, but in a car, that’s obviously not ideal for accessing your full catalog because you just can’t go through that depth of content while you’re driving. So back in November, we launched something where now when you search for something, if I say, “play Coldplay,” or even “play jazz,” we start playing something, but we also give you the ability to pivot into other categorized content that the app provides.
So if you want to play something on Spotify, and you say “play Coldplay,” it will start playing but then show you “here’s the list of their albums, and here’s their top songs.” And we’ve found that’s actually reducing the amount that users are browsing in the car, which is a good thing, and it’s helping them access the content they want in a more safe and seamless way.
There’s several other things like that. Wireless we’re very excited about. Obviously, it has launched in aftermarket units today. But we’re excited about getting that out with carmakers in embedded systems shortly. And then we’ll be doing kind of a big UI refresh that we teased at Google I/O last year that takes advantage of some of the larger screens we’re seeing in cars today.
Last year, we showed it in a Range Rover Velar that has a super wide screen, and so now we can actually enable you to see a full Google Maps view with the map and turn by turn. But also next to that, it’ll show whatever’s playing on YouTube Music or Spotify or whatever it might be and allow you to control that. So you don’t have to switch between the two. And there’s a few other things we’re doing in the system UI to really make it blend better with the in-car environment and again take advantage of the different form factors and screens.
Does that present any challenges? Because for the tech-obsessed, it’s nice to see these car manufacturers coming out with bigger screens, and we’re not at a point where we’re doing resistive touchscreens anymore really. The technology’s catching up. Whether or not you really love having a giant screen in your car is a separate conversation. But does that present a challenge in having all of these form factors, or do you have that pretty well figured out at this point?
The screen size and the orientation and shape is one complexity. But then there’s also — Acura has a touchpad, right? You have relative and you have absolute touchpad. There’s rotary controllers. You have touchscreens. You have all these different input methods. So it definitely is a challenge. You know we have motorcycle manufacturers that want to ship Android Auto, and they’re going to be just driven with a D-pad.
Yeah, there’s that Honda bike with CarPlay. I still really want to try that out.
Yeah, so we’re talking with Honda, and we’re working on that. So it is complex. I think the good news is that it pushes you to create a simpler system. And so some of what we’ll be rolling out over the course of the next six months in 2019 are simplifications of the system that I think will help it adapt to the different screen shapes and sizes, to the different input methods. But also, at the end of the day, I think it will make it more intuitive and useful for users. So we’re really excited about that.
So that’s on the classic project, the Android Auto-projected solution. The other thing we’re seeing is carmakers across the board, and you talked about Volvo, we’ve also signed on Renault-Nissan. And there’s a bunch of other companies we’re talking to about adopting Android as their built-in infotainment system in the car. As they all work to replace all the mechanical knobs and dials with digital surfaces, software obviously becomes much more important. We’re seeing larger and larger screens. We’re seeing your HVAC controls and your FM radio controls and everything is moving onto the screen with software. And they need a platform to power that. And they also see the consumer demand for things like CarPlay and Android Auto, and the carmakers want to enable that digital ecosystem in their embedded offering, in their infotainment system.
CarPlay and Android Auto are great in that they allow you to bring your digital ecosystem into the car. But it does present to you as a consumer that you have two worlds, you need to deal with the native system and your smartphone at the same time. That’s not necessarily what consumers asked for. But it’s one way of delivering that. What we’re really excited about with the embedded offering for Android in the car is now we can create a single blended system, where you have Spotify and you have your HVAC controls and you have the backup camera and you have Google Maps or Waze, and it’s all one system. It takes advantage of the entire digital surface in the car. And we think we’re going to be able to strike a great balance where it feels naturally integrated into the car.
As hard as this may be to actually make happen, something that would encourage people to leave their phones in their pockets the whole time.
Yeah, absolutely. That’s one of our goals.
And without the potential wonkiness of wireless projection.
Yeah. And literally we have a vision slide internally that talks through a whole bunch of things of what cockpit experience we want to enable in the future, and the last statement is “I never feel the need to reach for my Phone.” And that really is, I think, a key thing. So we’re super excited about that. We have just tremendous adoption for Android as an embedded system in the car. So we have carmakers now that represent over 50 percent of annual car volumes that are adopting Android as the built-in system.
Wholly? Not just Android Auto native?
So Android wholly as a system. There have been partners, companies like Honda and General Motors, who’ve taken Android in the past and shipped it in automotive. But they had to kind of fork it and make it appropriate for automotive. We’ve spent a ton of time, we’ve invested in building Android to be a turnkey solution for automotive, so that it has everything, you know, the vehicle subsystem control and whatnot. But also all the support for Android Auto apps. So the thousands of apps we have, media, messaging, and whatnot, in the Android Auto solution today will run seamlessly on these native systems. And we have carmakers now adopting that.
I just want to make sure I’m clear on the distinction of how you view, say, what’s going to be in Volvo as a native Android Auto system, an embedded system, versus a forked version, something that was built on Android.
You know, the main distinction will be you’ll actually have the app ecosystem. That is a huge thing. And also, I think you’ll see a more modern system come out of it because, like I said, we’re adding capabilities and features into Android to make it more appropriate for automotive. And, you know, comparing Android Auto projected when it’s running on your smartphone to something run natively in the car — now we can start lining up the ADAS (advanced driver assistance system) with Google Maps so that they have a shared view of the world. You have better support for the multiple different screens and modern cars, cluster support, and whatnot. I’m pretty excited about it. It’s going to be a pretty big leap, I think.
Do you expect, as you move forward, that those sorts of built-on-Android-but-forked infotainment systems die out, or do you think they’ll still be around for a while?
I think they’ll migrate over to kind of the baseline. That wasn’t necessarily a choice they had at that time. When they chose, as General Motors or Honda chose Android as a system back four or five years ago, Google wasn’t working on Android as an embedded system. And so they had to go and make all the changes themselves, and their only real choice was to fork it. And now I think it’s a pretty clear choice to just take what’s available, open source, free, and feature-rich.
Especially around the Tesla Model 3, there’s been a lot of conjecture about how much of the control scheme for the functions of the car do we want to put behind the touchscreen as opposed to physical controls.
Arguably, they’ve gone a little overboard in some cases, but...
I think so. I haven’t spent enough time with it to say for sure. But that’s my instinct, that when you’re a couple of taps away from the wipers, something about that feels a little weird. But does Google have a preference for that? I think it obviously behooves you to build the capability to tap into all of these functions. But do you care either way?
No, we don’t really care. I think we certainly want all of the common features to be readily available. We certainly want them accessible through software because you can do things now with Google Assistant and some of these cars that we’re integrated with. You can say “turn on the wipers.” Right? So you don’t want a physical switch because then you actually have to actuate that through software.
Or you run into that problem where you’ve activated it, and it’s like the dual light switch problem.
Exactly. “Is it on? Is it off?” Yes, so you run into that, and you need to be conscious about it. But you want these things to be accessible. And as screens get larger, it becomes easier for carmakers to have larger and more immediately accessible tap targets for the primary functions.
Do you have a baseline of specs or something to show the automakers and say, “If you want to do this, this is at least what you have to be able to handle?”
Similar to phones, we have a compatibility spec that says, “You can take Android, you can ship it as an automotive platform, but you need to fulfill these things.” But just like on phones, I think a lot of people assume that’s very stringent, and that we say, “You must have a home screen that presents apps in a grid,” or something like that. That’s not the case. We want to leave carmakers, or mobile manufacturers, whoever it may be, a lot of room to innovate as long as it doesn’t break some of the core tenets of the platform as they apply to consumers and developers. So that’s really where we try to draw a hard line.
With the Volvo demo this past year, I think we finally got to see what you had talked about the year before. But it still looked very much like Sensus, and anybody who had used a Volvo infotainment system would feel right at home with it. And yet, you have all of these extra capabilities, and it gives you that idea of how it could work together.
Yeah, exactly. And honestly, we showed an Audi Q8 concept running Android as well. And the cool thing for us was Spotify didn’t have to change their app at all. They install it on both of those. It shows up in the Audi, and it looks very much like an Audi. And it shows up in the Volvo, and it looks very much like it was designed specifically for Sensus. We wanted to show the industry and show consumers that you can create that differentiation that really, we think, not only carmakers want, but consumers want. Like I said, it feels natural in that environment. But it still keeps things familiar, especially for developers, so that it’s one experience across the board. You have all your apps.
You mentioned briefly this idea of, in this system, learning how the driver uses it and maybe responding to that. Is that something you expect to push with this?
Yeah, I think that’s not unique to our automotive efforts. With Google Assistant and everything we’re doing, we’re trying to create a more personalized experience that can be more helpful. So, similarly, in the car, we want to do the same thing. Something we already do in Android Auto today is, if you drive frequently... on Fridays, I go and drop my daughter off at school. It should learn that, right? So automatically suggest that route as I’m getting in the car. But you need to do it in a privacy-sensitive way, right? If I lend my car to someone, I don’t necessarily want them to see where these things are. Especially in cars, which are much different than mobile phones and other things, cars are fundamentally shared devices. And so we’re really thinking about that experience, and how do you trade off things like a highly personalized experience with user privacy to make sure that it’s protected.
Personally, I get to the point with some of these things where, especially on feeds, I’m apprehensive to do things because I don’t want to mess up the algorithm and make other things harder to find. I’ve talked to some other automotive startups and car manufacturers that are thinking about how to revolutionize the interior of a car. That’s one of the things that they always talk about, and it sounds like they’re trying to push it a bit farther, like, “We always want to know what you’re going to tap.” And I always worry about that. I want it to suggest some things, but I don’t want it to be completely fluid because then I never know what to trust or what is going to show up.
You have no muscle memory, right? Yeah, so it’s a balance. We try to create places in the platform for this. For example, in Android today, you can customize your home screen, and this is very predictable. I tap on things, and I know exactly where these apps are. When I swipe up, it tries to predict what things I’ll tap, and it has suggested actions. We try to find places in the UI where we can introduce prediction without shifting the entire UI to be prediction-based because then it completely compromises muscle memory and whatnot. So it’s a trade-off. In automotive, I don’t think we’re doing anything different than what we’re trying to do on phones there because it’s the same problem across the board.
As you move forward with embedded Android in cars, is that something that we can also expect to see come to third-party / aftermarket manufacturers? Eventually being able to put a system in your car that isn’t just Android Auto compatible, but runs native Android Auto?
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Is that something you’ve already started working on? Or are you sticking to starting with the manufacturers?
We’re starting with the manufacturers for the most part, for a variety of reasons. One of the primary benefits of building it into the car is the deep integration you can have with all the advanced systems in new cars. And those aftermarket systems, there’s only so much integration they can actually do in those systems. And so to really stretch the platform and take advantage of all the deep integration, you work with the carmakers.
A couple of years ago, we started to see Android Auto come into the car, CarPlay come into the car. And there was this tension of like, will the automakers want to accept it? Some were holdouts, but it’s been resolved for the majority of them. Now that we’re talking about native systems, are we set up for another sort of platform war? We don’t know that Apple wants to do the same thing, but we have
Automotive Grade Linux, LG is teasing a webOS system. Does it feel like we might have that same sort of competition start happening in the car?
It’s hard to say. One thing we’ve found is it’s very hard to create a platform. Anyone can create an operating system, but it’s hard to create a platform that is relevant to developers and gets developer attention. So if you want to build something that has connected services, you need developers. And developers chase the platforms that have the highest volumes because that’s where they get users, right? We find this, even though we’re shipping Android, it’s Android Automotive, and we need to get developers to think about building the automotive app, not just their smartphone.
Automotive is way smaller than mobile. And we know how hard it can be to launch a new ecosystem. So I don’t know that we’ll see a huge proliferation of platforms competing there, but certainly, there will be multiple options. You mentioned Automotive Grade Linux. I think you’re seeing the industry move toward open-source, more modern platforms because the carmakers want to bring more of that in-house and kind of take more ownership of the software, and I think that’s a good thing, that they’re investing more in software, because it will be more important in the car going forward.
The other cool thing, I think, when we were doing CarPlay or Android Auto, it was kind of one system integrating with another. Now, we’re working with carmakers on the same system. So when we’re working with Volvo and Polestar, we’re working with them together to make the best possible experience. And we did to an extent with Android Auto, and as Apple does with CarPlay, but it’s not quite the same. You’re not building one system together.
When you start talking to these automakers, as you’re sort of approaching the idea of coming together, but you’re not there yet, how do you pitch them on this? What are the things that you say? “Here’s our vision for it, here’s why we think it would be a great idea for you to use this to build your next infotainment system” or something?
It’s pretty interesting. A lot of times, we sit down with carmakers, and they pitch their vision for the connected car of the future, and we pitch ours. And it’s literally the same thing. I think what people want is you never feel the need to reach for your phone. But you want to be able to get into a car and have your digital life flow seamlessly and take advantage of all of the digital real estate in the car, and feel like it’s naturally integrated and it’s all there, available for you. You don’t plug in, you don’t sign in. It’s just there. And when you leave, it goes with you. And it gets better as you use it. That’s very much a shared vision.
So we start from there, and then it’s a matter of how do you enable that? With Android, the way we’ve positioned it is, we’re building the platform and giving it away for free because we want to create — just like we did on mobile phones — we want to accelerate innovation in the space and make it easier for everyone to focus on innovation through connected services and less on integration. Back in the day, in smartphones, we had hundreds of different versions of Google Maps for the different phone platforms. And as you can imagine, it’s pretty hard to innovate at pace there.
You create a common platform like the web or like Android on phones, and now all device makers can adopt it and immediately get access to all of these different apps, and all the app providers or connected service providers just build it once and have access to all these devices. So we’re doing the same thing in automotive, and we’re really focused on making it the best possible solution for carmakers. And so we tell them, “Look, if you choose not to go with Android, we want to know why because it means our job’s not done, and we need to go invest and fill those gaps.”
Are these exclusive contracts?
So if Volvo felt like some other solution might suit a certain car better, they could go do that while the other ones still have Android Auto?
Yeah. I would say, by and large, though, that the carmakers... it’s not like back in smartphones, where you could afford, as a device manufacturer to have different phones running different systems. I think all the way back to, like, HTC in the early days. They had the HTC Touch or something running Windows, and they had a whole bunch of those, and they had their Android line. Carmakers generally don’t do that. Because the investment in these infotainment platforms is so high that doing multiple different versions of them just increases their cost, and R&D, and time to market, and maintenance, and everything, so they tend to kind of go all in on one. But, short version: no, the contracts aren’t exclusive.
When you started to reveal more information at this past Google I/O about how this is going to work, one of the questions we asked and got answered was if this precludes CarPlay from working. The answer was “of course CarPlay will work.”
Will there be that kind of openness for other competing services, whether it’s like Amazon Alexa or other things like that? Are you committed to staying open with the platform?
Yeah, absolutely. Because when someone goes and buys a Volvo, we don’t know what services they have at home. And again, the vision is not to bring their Google digital life into the car. It’s to bring your digital life into the car. So just like on Android phones today, Facebook, whatever other other services are out there are, they’re crucial to have as part of your platform experience. I think, in the car, the main challenge is how do you ensure that these apps are designed for automotive and are safe to use in the car. So I don’t think it will be as open as what we have on smartphones because there’s just a higher bar. But we’re trying to make it as open as possible.
Yeah, because then you start getting into questions about security, and not just like hacking security, but stability for the car, and safety for the car.
At a high level, what are some of the things that you discuss with a manufacturer like Volvo when it comes to that stuff? About making sure that you have something in place that is going to offer that stability for the car, that safety.
We have a lot of conversations with carmakers on how we’re going to secure the platform and the ecosystem. All the apps that are there are uploaded to the Play Store for Automotive go through extensive review to make sure we’re not going to introduce anything that’s potentially harmful. So we talk through all of that.
But a lot of it comes down to how we design the experience as well. So, you know, in a car today, media apps don’t control every pixel on the screen. They fill in a template that we provide. And we give them as much control as possible. So Spotify can say, “Hey, I want you to present this, our suggested features in a grid instead of a list, and here’s how I want this one in a list, and here’s my iconography.” So you can more or less reconstruct their app. But you can do it in a way that adapts to the screen size and input controls and things like that. It reduces development complexity for them, but it also manages driver distraction and safety and security and things like that because we’re running it more of a slim box. And so I would say we’ve intentionally designed the system from the ground up to manage for that.
On a similar note, what do over-the-air updates look like in a system like this? If an automaker is going to use your platform but wants to be an automaker that offers over-the-air updates, is there room for them to do their own thing to update their UI or something like that?
Yeah. I mean, we want them to, I think all carmakers... This isn’t even a point of discussion. All carmakers are moving to building connectivity, and they’re moving to software over-the-air updates. It’s what consumers want. I think it’s what the carmakers want. They can now push fixes for issues instead of having to have everyone come into a dealership. So that’s the trend, that’s where things are going regardless. And we love it because it means, again, we want to increase the pace of innovation. So it’s not just fixing bugs and things like that, or security issues, but also delivering new features.
We’re working with — especially with the partners that we’re working most closely with like Volvo and Renault-Nissan and some others — working with them to ensure that, even if they ship their initial system on Android P, they can very quickly upgrade to Android Q, to Android R, and keep those things up to date, and push them out to users over the air.
How do you expect those updates to happen? If someone buys a car with native Android, and the automaker wants to push updates, is that something that is going to come through the Google side of things?
It depends. Just like on phones, we have our own over-the-air update service that deploys updates through Google’s global data center network. Some partners use that, some partners use their own. There’s all sorts of different alternatives, even in the mobile industry, that people use.
As cars go digital and there are finally infotainment systems that are up to snuff, we’re starting to hear about services as a potential new revenue model for these automakers. Is that something you’ve talked about with these car companies?
Oh, for sure, yeah. You see them experimenting with all sorts of different things. I think definitely having just a connected car, in general, is something that is a huge opportunity for them to do all sorts of different things. And you see carmakers going into usage-based insurance, you see them going into fleet management, you see them going into in-car delivery partnerships where Amazon can deliver a package to your car because it remotely unlocks, and things like that. So it’s definitely interesting. You know where we can, we try to enable them for these things, but we’ll see what sticks with the consumers, and what really takes off.
Is that something that you would do some sort of revenue split for, or is that something you would stay away from since you’re platform level?
We’re focused on the platform right now, and the Google services, and things like that. A lot of those, especially around shared mobility, and things like that, that’s a place I think the carmakers are best positioned.
On the platform competition side of things, one of the only trends I feel like I’ve seen at the show this year is big media companies trying to find ways to do interesting things in cars. I think we’ve all been dreaming about what kinds of entertainment we might have in a fully self-driving car, but now we’re starting to see some more near-term stuff. For example, Audi did this thing with Disney where they are trying to imagine a VR experience in the back seat of a car in a ride-hailing setting. Intel showed off a thing with Warner Bros. that’s similar. Do you guys have any skin in the game of wanting to bring media experiences to the car, even to the smaller screens?
We’re not focused on the smaller screens. I think definitely, as you shift to autonomy, or you shift to just higher-capacity cars, like minivans and things that have rear seat entertainment, it’s definitely interesting. But I’d say it’s not a primary focus for us right now. It’s not clear where that space is going to go. If you remember airlines all building screens into the back of every seat, now you walk up and down the aisle and everyone’s watching something on their own personal device. And so it’s not clear to me where that’s going to go. But it’s really cool to see the experimentation and innovation going on now.
Pulling way back to where we started. How do you see this new venture for Android Auto moving forward alongside the projected stuff? Do you expect them to run sort of parallel for a while?
Projection’s not going away. I mean we’re in a serious number of cars on the road now. So it’s a big thing. And it’s something that now consumers are making purchase decisions around, and that they expect to be there. If you remember when Bluetooth was first rolling out in cars, now it’s like, you would never buy a car without Bluetooth.
Or even rentals. I realized the saturation point we had gotten to when every rental car I get into now has CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility.
And it’s actually a great use case for those, right? Because you get in, you plug in, you have your stuff there in a car you’re not even familiar with, and that you’re only going to use for a day or two, or whatever it might be.
Other than the part where it wants my contact list.
Yeah. So projection is definitely there. I also think that we have a future where having both... if I have an Android phone that has apps installed that are Android Auto-capable... because Spotify, and WhatsApp, and Waze, all of their Android Auto capabilities are built into the smartphone app here. Imagine I get into a rental car, and it runs Android as an embedded system. We can create an even more seamless experience where you’re not necessarily flipping between two different systems like you do today with Android Auto and CarPlay. It’s all one system, but the apps show up. And you as a consumer, you don’t know or care if they are running in the car or if are they running on my phone. You never need to install them in the car. You’re not logging into them in the car. They’re actually running on your phone, but they show up there. We’re super excited about that. And again, I think that’s really taking the kind of best of both worlds there. The built-in, kind of seamless experience in the embedded system, and the highly personalized and continuous nature of the mobile phone as something that you bring with you everywhere you go, it knows you better than any other device.
That’s like the ultimate platform move, where you’re letting the apps get in front of the user and speak for themselves, and it doesn’t matter where they’re coming from.
And I don’t think that’s necessarily unique to cars. I show up at the Wynn here, where I’m staying, and I get into the room, and I’m like, “Oh I’d love to continue watching that movie I was watching, and it’s like, “Oh, well I could watch it on here, but I have this gorgeous TV.” Things like Google Cast and other technologies are starting to make that kind of available. But I’d love if I could just walk into the room and turn on the TV and my apps from my smartphone, and my content, are immediately there, and it knows where I was in that Netflix show, and it’s right on the screen.
And you don’t have to bring a Chromecast with you, or worry about logging into their smart TV or whatever. If they even have it.
Yeah, and then you log in. I remember staying at an Airbnb, and the check-in instructions say, “If you have an Apple account, sign into the Apple TV,” and the check-out instructions, in big capital letters, said, “DON’T FORGE TO SIGN OUT OF APPLE TV.” So having a more seamless experience where you come in, and your identity’s retained on your mobile phone, but it’s kind of seamlessly married with all the devices around you, I think is going to be a really powerful trend with IoT.
What does the next year look like for what you guys are doing?
On the Android Auto side, on projection, we have a lot of new things coming, including the UI revamp, like I said, to take advantage of the larger, taller screens, things like that. We’re super excited about that. On the embedded side, working with Volvo and Polestar and Renault-Nissan and a couple other companies that haven’t yet announced, to get the first cars to production. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re pretty excited about it. We hope to show some more previews and sneak peeks of those coming up at Google I/O in May, and then we’ll be heads down getting those ready for end-of-year release.
What do you expect that post-launch couple weeks, couple months to be like?
I hope to be on vacation. [Laughs] It’s really the lead-up to the launch that will be a lot of work for us. It’s interesting, too. I’ve worked at mobile phones, been working on Android for a while. You finish the Pixel 3, or whatever phone, put it on sale, and you sell tons of them. And cars, obviously you’re not selling millions of them on day one. So we’ll have kind of a slow ramp through the industry, but we’re pretty excited about the user experience and the benchmark that we’re going to set with those initial cars. And we know hope to really make that a showcase for what a modern digital experience in a car can be.