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BMW the latest to adopt Android Automotive

Caption: Google wants to take its Android Automotive OS into many cars and has already started with Honda, Polestar, some Volvo models, the GMC Hummer EV – and now BMW.

First BMWs with Android Automotive-based infotainment tech to launch in March 2023

1 Jul 2022

BMW is the latest cab off the rank to sign up for Google’s advanced Android Automotive OS software architecture on which to run its infotainment systems in new models from March next year.


Android Automotive has been gaining traction in the broader automotive industry including Honda, Polestar, some Volvo models and the GMC Hummer EV, while some future Ford and Lincoln vehicles and other manufacturers are looking to adopt the platform in future.


BMW plans to develop its Operating System 8 infotainment software using Android Automotive for some vehicle models from early next year but will maintain the current Linux-based version for others.


The new OS will also have over-the-air software updating capability that, apart from keeping the vehicle’s capabilities fresh, can enable car-makers to circumvent certain supply bottlenecks by making some features available via software rather than hardware after the vehicle has been delivered.


BMW Group lead developer for the digital driving experience, Stephan Durach, said adopting Android Automotive is about having a second technological approach.


“We are integrating the best aspects of all worlds – that could be our own in-house developments, open source or commercial software products, depending on what the specific solution looks like,” he explained.


He added that BMW ensures customers always have a unique, customised digital experience in their vehicle, and that the approach for two software platforms can vary based on which BMW series it is running on. 


BMW is often ahead of the curve in adopting new connectivity technologies, being one of the first car-makers to include wireless Apple CarPlay, and it was also early getting in on Apple’s version of a phone-as-a-key feature that enables drivers to use the vehicle without a traditional fob. 


Although BMW was late adopting Android Auto smartphone mirroring, because the majority of BMW owners were found to be iPhone users, with Android Automotive, BMW is getting in early.


Android Automotive is a full-on vehicular operating system and platform running directly on the in-vehicle hardware.


It can be embedded into car infotainment and instrument clusters and is a full-stack, open source, highly customizable platform powering the infotainment experience. Android Automotive supports apps built for Android as well as those built for Android Auto.


Android Automotive is not to be confused with Android Auto, which is Google’s platform running on the user’s phone, projecting the Android Auto user experience to a compatible in-vehicle infotainment system over a USB or wireless connection.


With Android Automotive, Google wants to take its software mass-market into many cars. With BMW on board, the pressure is now on Apple and its new-generation CarPlay.

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