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2011 Chevrolet Volt – Click above for high-res image gallery

The interwebs are rife with rumor that the mysterious General Motors technology partner is none other than Google itself. Motor Trend is reporting that GM is currently courting the search guru in order to use the Big G's Android operating system in its vehicles. If successful, the company should have a telematics system that's more than capable of taking it to Sync – the excellent Ford/Microsoft mashup currently available in most Blue Oval products.

While MT claims that GM wants to out and out buy Android, we doubt that's the case. Google hasn't exactly made a habit of selling anything it produces – opting instead for an advertising-based revenue stream. What's more, Google is making major inroads into the consumer electronics marketplace with Android. Still, that doesn't mean the open-source Android couldn't find its way into the next generation of smart-phone capable vehicles from Detroit.

If the rumors prove true, we should first expect to see some iteration of the system on the upcoming Chevrolet Volt. GM has already said that owners will be able to monitor things like battery life and charging from their smart phones. They'll also be able to start and unlock the vehicle via a Volt app. Similar usability will likely trickle down into the rest of the GM ranks.


  • 11/29/09 7:17:39 -- Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A Vehicle Chief Engineer Andrew Farah and the new Chevy Volt during the Dodger Stadium ride and drive.

[Source: Motor Trend via Engadget]


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  • 33 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope the Android platform works better in cars than it does in cellphones. I wish GM would partner with Apple instead!
        • 4 Years Ago
        apple users love to mask their inability to use computers with smug superiority.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @katshot

        I guess now we know many of Engadget readers are also Autoblog readers :-)
        • 4 Years Ago
        Apple would have been a good partner.

        Google would probably be the next best choice though for this kind of venture. Good Luck GM. Fords got a strong foothold with SYNC, and if the muscle cars wars teach us anything it's competition is better for everyone.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @homunculus & superx1919

        i use windows only, love firefox, and will never buy a mac...but i am also honest to myself & others and understand it is a fact that apple is more stable..so far from a "fanboy" since fanboys ignore the facts and still proclaim something better when it isn't

        Flash = Evil

        hilarious thing was after the uproar about iPad not using flash, the next day twitter shut down flash on their site because they were hacked...through Flash! it has serious security issues and is a resource hog, this is a fact, plus it is old tech ..HTML-5 FTW!

        I honestly don't want GM with Apple, Apple would do better with a higher end brand
        • 4 Years Ago
        "apple users love to mask their inability to use computers with smug superiority."

        You just need to run with a different crowd. All of the apple users I know are programmers and system administrators, myself included. :)
        • 4 Years Ago
        the last thing cars need is endless restrictions and moronic prohibitions like apple hardware.

        open source > apple.
        • 4 Years Ago
        How did this turn into a PC vs. Mac discussion? I've never used a Mac but I understand that in some ways it's better than a PC. IMO, it's similar to the VHS vs. Beta argument of many years ago. I suppose if I was a total computer geek, or my job was heavily dependent on computing, I might lean more toward a Mac but my feeling is that the cost difference, software availability, and user features outweigh the alleged slight technical superiority.
        As far as Google's Android OS, I must say that my Droid Eris is by far, the best phone I've ever owned. So I say good for GM if they are partnering up with Google.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I wish it didnt matter who partnered with who.

        I dont want to have to worry about what cell phone I buy so it integrates better with my car.
        Mainly because I WILL buy a cell phone because of the OS but I will NOT buy a car based on the OS of its infotainment system.

        and i can see lots of grumbling by the GM/ Apple fanboy isnt going to know what to do when his ipad wont sync with his malibu running android.



        • 4 Years Ago
        If GM partnered with Apple, the vehicle could only do one thing at a time. And you'd never be able to Flash anyone.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Android seems to work excellent on the HTC Incredible that I bought for my wife... I have an iPhone...

        My personal opinion (and another prediction, I suppose) is that Google is going to defeat Apple in every area of everything within the next 5-10 years. I love Apple - I have a MacBook Pro, I bought my wife a MacBook and I've converted a bunch of people away from Microsoft and PCs to Macs... That being said, I would NEVER bet against Google...

        Sal Collaziano
        AndNowIFeelGuilty.com
        • 4 Years Ago
        Seems like there are some Apple fanboys w/no sense of humor at all. To quote the noble sage Foghorn Leghorn, "It's a joke, I say, it's a joke, son.". Perhaps you should try not to infer malicious intent so often.

        In all seriousness, Apple would be a good partner, but so would Google.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Wow, a lot of varied opinions... mostly unfounded by anti-Apple trolls. I was a "PC Guy" for 15 years and I switched to a MacBook Pro 17 2 years ago. Unlike every single one of my Microsoft products, this thing has run 100% perfectly. No bugs, viruses, incompatibility/driver problems etc... I turn it on, it starts quickly, multi-tasks all day with heavy use and has 0 issues doing so. How could that be a bad thing? From my experience, the majority of the Apple haters can't afford one so they talk bad about them to make themselves feel better about having inferior technology. Trust me, my Mac will never be replaced with a Windows anything, ever.

        "apple users love to mask their inability to use computers with smug superiority." You sound like a typical clueless, broke, Windows zombie.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @homunculus

        Agreed, the last thing a vehicle worth thousands, traveling down highways at 60mph with people inside needs is a safe, protective closed source os like apple...

        ..curious how the google/gm mashup will play out with the ongoing google china drama
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hm, Im curious why they didnt just go with Microsoft on this. Its already done and people already know it. I do see functionality with Onstar as win for GM. Onstar is about safety and convienence. All good stuff, so how long really 2-3 years?
        • 4 Years Ago
        My guess is there's some sort of agreement with Ford that prevents Microsoft from partnering with competitors to develop similar solutions. Otherwise you'd have to be a complete dolt to start from scratch with either Google or (heaven forbid) Apple.

        While Google has Android, that doesn't mean they have a viable automotive/telematics solution that could be used without tons and tons of custom work just to get it to a base level of functionality. And lord knows Apple isn't known for software development prowess so you'd be even farther behind partnering with them.

        If this indeed turns out to be true, it only means that GM sees no other alternative and is making a big gamble that they can pull off something that'll show up as a v.1 product by 2016 at best.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Polly

        Microsoft also makes a SYNC-like product for Kia called "UVO"


        http://www.autoblog.com/2010/01/05/kia-uvo-details-released-virtually-same-as-sync/
        • 4 Years Ago
        IMO, GM is making a smart move partnering with Google. Google has experience with lightweight, real-time, embedded OS via Android.

        Microsoft is buggy and unreliable - like WINCE. Or even regular Windows.
      • 4 Years Ago

      What a great idea. Google doesn't know enough about my interests yet. Why not tell them every place I ever drive to, so they can build a better database of what to advertise to me. Heaven forbid they accidentally tell the world that I've been visiting some store where privacy matters. No doubt they learned their lesson from the Buzz launch.


      No way I'm buying a GM car with a Google product in it!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Just think of the new GPS option: "I'm feeling lucky"
      • 4 Years Ago
      I honestly don't want GM with Apple, Apple would do better with a higher end brand......................GM is just fine for apple!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      That makes sense. The federal government owns GM, and have entered into a strategic partnership with Google for other services.

      That said, I'll never own an Android-powered device. Google's electronic privacy record is a bit spotty. I'm not really interested in the Goog keeping tabs on my driving destinations, thankyouverymuch.

      • 4 Years Ago
      As cool as this sounds, were not far from the day a hacker can turn off all of our cars.

      In the meantime, let the goodtime's roll!
        • 4 Years Ago
        As opposed to having the car randomly "crash" due to MS BSoD?

        I'll take a Google-modified and hardened Linux OS inside the car over Microsoft Windows any day.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ten years ago, I used to joke around about Microsoft being the operating system for cars in the future.. You'd be driving along and suddenly stall, hear the classic "bonk" sound and get the blue screen of death on your windshield...

        I love Google - and my new prediction is there will be a free, ad supported system using Google Adsense/Adwords and a pay version without the ads. I can't wait to send Cadillac drivers using the "free" version an ad for CadillacOwners.com while they're driving. :p

        Sal Collaziano
        Yes, CadillacOwners.com :)
        • 4 Years Ago
        BSOD never CAUSED a computer to crash....it is merely a diagnostic screen, displaying information about a crash. Crashes are caused by a multitude of things, such as faulty hardware or poorly written hardware drivers...and rarely caused by Windows/Microsoft itself.

        Have there been many reports of Sync systems crashing?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I must be the last crazy guy left who just wants a good car to drive. I guess the extra toys are to keep people busy so they don't know they are driving a boring car...

      • 4 Years Ago
      Excellent.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Makes logical sense for them to build a marketing-product partnership.

      I do wonder when the day will come that some hacker will be able to unlock people's doors, open the rear hatch and power down all the windows while the owner sits oblivious in their office cubicle. That would s*ck on a rainy day.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The underlying OS's for Apple and Android are somewhat similar, both being based on 'nix technology. Apple uses FreeBSD, and Android (and Google OS) uses a Linux kernel. Apple's iPhone and iPad are using modded (smaller) versions of their Mac OS.

      Due to the lightweight kernel, Android does run rather quickly, so if GM helps with the vehicle UI (improving on Ford's critical darling), this could be a big hit for GM. And since iPod integration is nearly ubiquitous in new car sound systems, that should remain the same. And mobile phone integration will most likely be heterogeneous as well. So other than having the partially-eaten fruit logo, not having Apple as a partner is not a hindrance here.
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