Google plans to expand the range of applications on offer in cars using its Android Automotive infotainment software – with some owners set to gain the ability to watch YouTube videos in their cars.

    The technology giant says Polestar and Volvo will bring YouTube to their latest vehicles with an over-the-air update, although drivers will only be able to watch videos while they’re stationary.

    Also being added to the list of available apps on Android Automotive are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Cisco Webex – albeit in audio-only form, given most cars don’t have driver-facing cameras suitable for video conferencing.

    Waze mapping will be added to the Play Store for owners who want an alternative to Google Maps.

    A range of games will also be available to download, although once again they’ll only be available when the vehicle is stationary.

    Speaking with The Verge, director of Google product development Roshan Khan said driver distraction is something the company is taking seriously as it expands the range of apps it offers in-car.

    “That complexity of handling driver distraction, it’s a really high burden,” Mr Khan told The Verge. “And actually, you know, a lot of developers don’t know how to navigate the nuances of that.”

    Mr Khan argues Google setting safety standards within the Android Automotive world “allows the developer, Google, and the automaker to kind of all play a role without having to absorb all of the complexity of driver distraction just purely on the developer”.

    Android Automotive software underpins the infotainment systems in the latest Stellantis products, and will form the base of Ford’s next-generation SYNC system. It’s already been rolled out in Polestar and Volvo vehicles.

    Unlike Android Auto, which is powered by a user’s phone and activated by the driver, Android Automotive is a toolkit that allows carmakers to design their own experiences using Google software as a base.

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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