Ford is partnering with Google in a big way to bring Android software to its in-car tech. Google will be helping Ford in a number of ways, but the most impactful news for end users is that future Ford and Lincoln vehicles will have Android-powered infotainment systems with Google apps built into the user interface.
That means Google Maps will be the vehicle’s native navigation system. Google Assistant will be the voice assistant. And Google Play will be on board with its mountain of apps to choose from for listening to music, podcasts and audiobooks. Thank Google’s open-source Android Automotive software for making this possible.
Several other automakers are gearing up to implement Android Automotive as their infotainment systems. GM, Volkswagen brands and Volvo are all destined to have Android Automotive in the future. Polestar has already launched the Polestar 2 with Android Automotive, and we thoroughly enjoyed using it. Ford says we should expect to see it show up in its products come 2023, but it’s not saying which ones yet.
We asked Ford what this meant about Sync’s fate, but the answer isn’t clear yet. A Ford spokesperson said that “SYNC is our connected vehicle brand and we are building on its popularity.” The branding and future naming is a bit murky for now. Ford did confirm to us that this Android Automotive software will still be capable of running Apple CarPlay, though, so Apple users have nothing to worry about.
In addition to the infotainment news, Ford also says it’s going to take advantage of the Google Cloud to improve its cars’ artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. Plus, there will be a collaborative Ford/Google team called Team Upshift that will work on projects “ranging from developing new retail experiences when buying a vehicle, creating new ownership offers based on data, and more.”
It’s a little vague now, but should come into focus as the years go on. We’re most excited to see Android Automotive as Ford’s infotainment system. Though, the Mustang Mach-E’s Sync 4 software is pretty good to live with for the time being.