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Considering how difficult it is to pick up a new car at the moment, Ars Technica’s look at the Android Automotive OS might be your first chance to take a look at what a current infotainment system looks like. It has been almost five years since the truly mobile version of Android was demoed, and it has finally been released to the public by a subsidiary of Volvo inside the Polestar 2 as well as Volvo’s own XC40 Recharge. These are just the first models which will include AAOS, expect to see it in a vast number of new models from a variety of manufacturers; at least once stocks increase.
Ars is quick to note that this OS is not the same as Android Auto, the smartphone app that pairs with your car’s display to show content; it does incorporate some of those features but also controls everything from the AC to the rear view camera. The implementation is not without issue, the biggest offender unfortunately being Google Maps. For some bizarre reason the interface in the Polestar 2 limits search results to a maximum of nine locations, even when parked, which severely limits the usefulness of the app.
This is just a first look at the new system and might not represent the implementation on all models which will use the Android Automotive OS, however it is the version Google has authorized for sale and thus is fair game. Ars Technica spend quite a bit of time on the review, so make sure to have some time on hand to read through it.
Every car manufacturer nowadays needs to include an infotainment system with its car, and that means developing an operating system, making a UI that isn't terrible, building an SDK and app ecosystem, and doing a million other things car manufacturers have not typically needed to do.