Volvo Will Bake Google Maps, Google Play Store, Google Assistant Into New Infotainment Systems

Android users, rejoice!

Following its announcement of an Android-based infotainment system last year, Volvo is taking another step toward integrating its tech with Google. The Swedish automaker will add Google Maps, the Google Play Store, and Google Assistant to future versions of its Sensus infotainment systems.

Some Google apps are already available to Volvo drivers through Android Auto, but instead of projecting content from a phone onto a car's infotainment system, the apps will now be baked directly into the car's system. Through the Google Play Store, Volvo said it will eventually be able to offer "thousands" of apps on its infotainment system.

Since these systems will be Android-based, Volvo noted software updates and new apps pushed by Google will be made available to drivers in real time, similar to how Android smartphone users get real-time updates.

For Android users, at least, the Google-Volvo partnership should make life easier. Not only will the same familiar Google apps be available on their cars' dashboard screens, but the underlying software will be shared by car and phone. But that doesn't mean Volvo's decision to lean on Google was an obvious one.

Whether automakers should continue to develop their own infotainment systems and apps, or just rely on tech companies like Google, is an important question. Not everyone in the auto industry is happy about the rise of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it's hard to argue with the logic of using the same familiar graphics and controls from smartphones in cars. At the same time, automakers risk ceding valuable territory to tech companies.

If new-car buyers are really as obsessed with smartphone connectivity as the auto and tech industries say they are, then it won't be surprising if other automakers are hesitant to follow Volvo's lead. Doing so could mean losing control of a major part of the vehicular experience, one that could become even more important with the development of autonomous driving and connected services.

In a press release, Volvo said it will continue to develop its own software, including apps and connected services, using a "growing force of software engineers."