Google has made significant inroads with its Android Automotive operating system and built-in services in recent years, attracting several big-name automakers as partners. Companies from General Motors to Volvo have jumped on board with the tech, which brings all manner of Google built-in features like Maps, Google Assistant, and the Google Play Store. The tech giant recently announced expanded functionality for its software that will bring WebEx, Zoom, Prime Video, and the Weather Channel to select vehicles through the interface.
Before you start panicking about overworked executives distracted by Zoom calls on the highways, it’s important to note that the videoconferencing app will be audio-only, and the same goes for WebEx. Some Polestar, Volvo, and Renault models that have the Google Play Store will be able to install Prime Video and the Weather Channel apps. Prime Video will only work while the vehicle is parked. Also available is the Vivaldi web browser, which owners can download from the Play Store and use while stationary.
While many will roll their eyes at yet another distraction for drivers, Google built-in has improved the infotainment experience for most of the automakers that have adopted it. Google’s voice commands and the available apps function well in most situations, which can make using some of today’s more confounding interfaces much easier.
Other automakers are taking similar approaches, though with their in-house systems. Mercedes-Benz and VW announced that third-party apps would be available to select models earlier this year, and Tesla started offering Zoom capability late in 2022. Google said Zoom and Prime Video are available now, while The Weather Channel and WebEx will come later.
The war between in-house and third-party infotainment tech is heating up as automakers and tech companies look to vehicle owners as data sources and eyeballs for advertisements. General Motors announced that it would stop offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in its EVs starting in 2024, and every automaker is exploring more ways to extract the most revenue from buyers, whether upfront or through subscriptions over time.