Android Automotive Goes Mainstream: Review of GM's New Infotainment System

Android Automotive Goes Mainstream: Review of GM’s New Infotainment System


Android Automotive, Google’s operating system for cars, has historically been very narrowly focused, only being used by a handful of high-profile cars like the Polestar 2. But now Android Automotive is becoming mainstream and we’re starting to see some of the biggest car manufacturers implementing Google’s operating system across all ranks.

Today we’re taking a look at the 2022 GMC Yukon, but it’s actually General Motors’ Android Automotive system, and you’ll see it appear on most GM lineups in the future. The same basic setup powers the Hummer EV1, and with all the parts sharing going on at GM, expect this system to appear in Chevys, GMCs, Cadillacs and Buicks. With Ford and Honda jumping into the Android Automotive ecosystem in the near future, Google’s automotive OS will soon be everywhere.

Let’s skip the usual disclaimer: This article is No about Android Auto, Google’s tethered phone app and competitor to Apple’s CarPlay. Android Automotive, fully explained (sometimes referred to as “Google Built-In”), means that the car is one big Android device. A computer runs the car’s infotainment system, and this computer uses Android. Even if you have an iPhone in your pocket, it won’t change your car’s operating system (it does support CarPlay, though). For most models, buying General Motors will mean buying Android Car. During setup, a message appears on the screen: “By using this car, you agree to Google’s terms of service.”

The idea here makes some sense. Consumers want their car infotainment system to look and function more like a smartphone, so why not upload a smartphone operating system to the vehicle? Then you can get the smooth scrolling, touch screen that people expect from a modern computer. Android Automotive is a Google-blessed operating system, and like phone companies, manufacturers like Ford, GM, and Volvo sign agreements with Google to license the operating system and many Google apps. This car has Google Maps on board, arguably the biggest killer app in the automotive industry. You also get Google Assistant voice commands and the Google Play Store for cars, allowing easy access to apps like Spotify and other media players.

Hardware: Four screens, three operating systems

The main infotainment screen.
Magnify / The main infotainment screen.

Ron Amadeo

Checking the computer in the car is an odd proposition because the hardware is always so old. A car takes about five years to develop, and when the cars finally hit the market, the computer hardware isn’t all that exciting. The hardware for our Android Car system – internally called “General Motors Infotainment 3.7” or “gminfo37” – is a 5-year-old Intel Atom A3960 SoC with Intel HD Graphics 500, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. flash storage.

This isn’t just a GM issue, and the same CPU exists in the Polestar 2 – although that system only has 4GB of RAM – so we’re classifying both cars as “first generation Android Automotive hardware”. However, the age of the hardware is remarkable. Android Automotive won’t let you load apps into a production car, but check out the Atom A3960’s Geekbench score and you’ll see that the $78,000 in-vehicle computer is barely faster than a $35 Raspberry Pi 4. The GMC Yukon and Polestar 2 both pack one of the slowest processors you can buy in any trim today.

I’m sure the Atom A3960 has gone through a lengthy certification process to ensure it survives the heat and vibration of a harsh automotive environment, but it’s disappointing to see GMC basically supplying cheap PC parts since 2016. Although a five-year hardware delay is inevitable , the company could have started with mid-range or high-end Intel 2016 hardware rather than cheap Atom parts.

#Android #Automotive #Mainstream #Review #GMs #Infotainment #System

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.