Google unveiled Wednesday at CES 2022 a range of new ways to keep its Android devices connected — and that includes cars.
As more vehicles go electric and automakers evolve into software developers, expect to see more plays directed at turning cars into connected devices.
Take Volvo Cars, for instance. The automaker and Google announced at CES 2022 new content and services that will be coming to future Volvo vehicles, including the ability to download and use the YouTube app via Google Play Store and the ability to communicate with the Google Home ecosystem.
New Volvo car models are equipped with an Android Automotive operating system and have embedded voice-controlled Google Assistant, Google Play Store, Google Maps and other Google services into its infotainment system. But YouTube and the Google Home ecosystem weren't part of this system until now.
In the coming months, the Google Home ecosystem will come to Volvo vehicles in the coming months. This should allow car owners to turn their car on and off, control the temperature and get information like battery life by issuing voice commands to Google Assistant-enabled home and mobile devices. Once customers pair their Volvo car to their Google account, they also can talk directly to Google while in their car.
This feature will be available in the United States and in European markets, like Sweden, Norway, Germany, Italy, France and Spain, with others soon to follow, according to Google.
The YouTube app will be the first video platform to be featured and available for download in Volvo cars on Google Play. This is the beginning of enabling video streaming in cars.
"Allowing our customers to watch videos while charging or when waiting to pick up their children from school is part of our promise to make their lives better and more enjoyable," said Henrik Green, chief product officer at Volvo Cars, in a statement. "With YouTube and other major streaming services coming soon, our customers can enjoy their charging break instead of seeing it as just a hassle -- making electric car ownership that bit easier."
That kind of video streaming takes more capable processing power and that's where Qualcomm comes in.
Volvo also announced that it is using Qualcomm's Snapdragon digital cockpit platform to take the Google Android Automotive-based infotainment system to the "next level."
The partnership with Qualcomm is part of a larger move by Volvo to facilitate more digital services and keep passengers entertained. It is also timely for Volvo as it prepares to introduce Ride Pilot, its new "unsupervised" autonomous driving feature that is expected to fully self-drive Volvo's upcoming electric SUV on highways to start, allowing drivers to be completely hands-free for whatever other activities they'd rather be doing than holding onto a steering wheel.
Google isn't stopping with Volvo. In December, the tech giant unveiled its digital car key, which enables users to lock, unlock and even start compatible BMW cars from 2020, 2021 and 2022 through select Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy phones. On Wednesday, Google said users later this year will be able to utilize the ultra-wideband digital car key to both unlock their vehicle without taking their phone out of their pocket, as well as share the key with others. The feature will be available in multiple markets across Europe, Asia, North America and parts of Africa, as well as Russia, New Zealand and Australia.