back to article Volvo is letting Android 'take over underlying car software' – report

Volvos of the future will include an in-car entertainment system built on Android, the stolid Swedish automaker announced earlier today. The new in-car infotainment system will allow users to install apps from the Android App Store, Volvo said, which it hopes will let the driving denizens access “connected and predictive …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    How much of the underlying software will be under Android's control, we dread to think.

    Took the words out of my mouth. No buy. While I really like a well built Android based infotainment system (in fact, I retrofitted one in my car), its level of access to anything internal should be properly firewalled off an limited.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "its level of access to anything internal should be properly firewalled off"

      Air-gapped would be even better.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      More importantly

      we need to know how much data slurping it will do and if the users choice of music will influence the adverts that it shows as you drive along.

      No?

      Well maybe not yet but that is what Google wants. No escape from targetted adverts even while driving.

      It is not beyond the realms of fancy that the car will tell Google where it is and Google will direct video ads from the roadside at you. Even less chance of escaping the "Hey, Bill, you have not been to KFC this week. The next one if 2 miles ahead. Go now and get 5p off any order over £20".

      Fancyful? Well the car is going to need some form of 3G/4G/5G connection so that you can use the google App store. Who is gonna pay for that eh? How will the car gets the Android updates for the first 28 days and then stop?

      Being able to DL Apps means that the on-board android system can send data to the google Borg mothership.

      1. Fan of Mr. Obvious

        Re: More importantly

        No idea how Volvo is going about it, but Ford's newest implementation of Sync Connect which comes in a limited number of 2017 models has some connectivity in place. It does not have dual antennas so I am not sure how it is connecting, but it does allow bi-directional communication between a phone and the vehicle with Ford playing monkey in the middle. At least 1 vehicle (Fusion Platinum) includes the subscription for Sync Connect for 5 years. I believe Sync 3 with Connect updates it apps over-the-air, but I know for sure that Sync 3 OS will accept updates if you connect the car to Wi-Fi. Andoid (and presumably iOS) compatible apps will get pulled in to Sync 3 from a connected and authorized phone. Sync 3 apps and phone apps (Sync Connect apps??) are in different categories within the Sync 3 UI.

  2. gv

    Future updates/upgrades/patches/security

    Is this the automotive equivalent of the "smart" TV?

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Future updates/upgrades/patches/security

      Pretty much. After the first couple years, I wouldn't expect bugfixes except when (not if, when) bugs are found that let you get into the CAN network and control the car.

      Luckily it is just in the infotainment system, which is an extra cost item you can ditch. Who wants to pay $2000 for a 7" screen, nav system, and the same apps you can get on your phone?

      If they integrate it to the point that it controls your radio, climate, and everything else, then I guess you tell them where to go by buying another make that doesn't integrate it outside of an option you can decline (or pull the fuse on if you buy a used one that comes with it)

  3. Elmer Phud

    Grinder

    "Like the driver on your left? Just side-swipe to let them know"

  4. patrickstar

    So, if you don't want Google spying on you, don't get a Volvo car? Or can this be avoided by simply not sticking a SIM card in it?

  5. Tikimon Silver badge
    Devil

    Google in my car? Oh, the horror...

    So autos will now be packed with pre-installed bloatware and spyware that we won't be allowed to delete? FAIL and move on to other brands.

    Maybe we can hope for a future John McAfee Sport-Utility Vehicle? No internet connection, face-distorting windscreen, encrypted ECU data, explosively self-destructs if stolen...

    Help me, Obi-Wan McAfee! You're my only hope!

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    Android. What can possible go wrong.

    Anyone following the NHS ransomware story can probably answer this question.

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: Android. What can possible go wrong.

      Well at least they aren't putting Windows 10 on it.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Android. What can possible go wrong.

        That's supposed to be better? Android had several iterations of a bug that could be triggered remotely via SMS or MMS. Couple that, with a bug that lets you get out of the infotainment system into the CAN network, and a hacker halfway around the world could "brick" your car and ask for bitcoin ransom to re-enable it. It would make the current ransomware epidemic look like no big deal by comparison!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android. What can possible go wrong.

      Why? Android is infinitely more secure than Windows. Have you not spotted the difference? The news is full of REAL Windows issues, but android news is always potential, you never hear of real world issues. That's because it's 99% horseshit funded by apples research partners, or companies wanting you to buy security snake oil "solutions".

      Given there are now more android devices in the world then Windows, funny nobody ever really knows anyone that's ever actually been affected... Ever get the feeling you have been cheated???? You should.....

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Android. What can possible go wrong.

        The Windows bug being exploited the last few days was "potential" until someone decided to use it in a ransomware exploit.

        The gain from an Android exploit would be pretty small - who is going to pay ransom to unlock the data on their phone, given that the backup rate on phones is way higher than PCs (since both Android and iOS make it very easy to do, and free) while businesses and governments that aren't always so good about backups have the money to do so. Find a way to make as much money off an Android exploit as a PC exploit, and they won't be 'potential' for long.

        The idea that Android is "infinitely more secure than Windows" is laughable. Its arguable it isn't even "more secure than Windows", given that Android exploits that are found today will still be good on the better part of a billion phones two years from now. At least Microsoft provided a fix for this weekend's bug in a timely manner, though the end user can disable/delay it, especially for corporate managed PCs. Google can provide fixes, but there is no hope even half the Android devices that exist the day a patch is delivered will ever see the fix.

  7. JCDenton

    Just use Security Software!

    No problem. I'll just install anti-virus software. Let's see here..."download Avast" Okay!

    Hey, what happened to my GPS!??!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Expect much more of this from Volvo in future

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qY3bnZaNht0

  9. Lars Silver badge
    Coat

    According to theverge

    "But Android will now also control basic functions like heating and cooling, seat position, or opening and closing the windows. (It won’t go as far as controlling critical safety systems like brakes, though, according to Google.) ".

  10. EveryTime Silver badge

    I expect an un-maintained disaster

    I can't see this going well on the scale of automotive longevity.

    But it looks better when graded on a curve. Pretty much every automotive entertainment system looks dated and clunky while still on the dealer lot, and only gets worse (rather than classic) with age.

    Android Auto doesn't solve the problem. Everything it does, it does badly. The map display is worse. The UI is nearly unusable. Traffic info isn't available. Calls are dropped. Music can't be found, and it is difficult to select the music it can present. I'm stubborn, and I still gave up. I have a cigarette plug charger so that that charging the phone doesn't try to use Android Auto, plus it charges the phone at a rate that keeps up with the GPS discharge.

    This is a 2017 model car. Older cars were even worse, and haven't been updated with fixes. They aren't going to get better with age. Pretty much like console mounted cell phones, they are going to progress from looking silly to looking stupidly short-sighted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I expect an un-maintained disaster

      Weird, I have a Sony XAV-AX100 android auto head unit, and it's superb, one of these issues. Maps, doddle to use, live traffic, music works, just fine (Google, Spotify, audio books),. Reading and replying to messages work without fault, and never drops calls when the phone is in good reception area.

      Are you even sure it was android auto you were using? It doesn't sound like it. Perhaps it was Apple carplay, that's got well documented map problems, and is locked down to apples apps....

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clickbait horseshite

    "Google’s previous stab at connected car tech didn’t go so well. Android Auto was last seen on El Reg after being accused of broadcasting so much engine data"

    It's not even connected to the engine management system, unless it's connected by the secret special unicorn tears bus...

  12. Chemical Bob
    Facepalm

    Remember when carmakers used to make cars?

    Don't know what this new shit is, but it ain't cars...

  13. Frank N. Stein

    My 96 Volvo 850 GLT thankfully, doesn't have any connected tech. I don't need that nonsense. I use my Android Phone already for GPS. That's as far as I'll go. So, I won't be buying any new Volvo's or Audis that have any connected Tech other than a radio. #PASS.

    1. Ian Entwistle

      I'm with you having just "regressed" from a VW Phaeton with more control systems than can possibly be healthy to a old shape C70 Cab... IMHO all in car tech should be well segregated from the actual functionality of being a car. I use a Logitech Zerotouch to allow me to control music, start navigation, share location with the missus if running late, send/hear text/email/whatsapp etc if I want, instigate phone calls, yada yada. The music/audio is streamed through the excellent in built Dolby pro logic system via a bluetooth adaptor so I don't even need to hack the car with an aftermarket Halfrauds special disco delight.

      All the "connected stuff" you could want in a car that can be fixed as and when needed ( currently on 142K miles and increasing at 2.5k/month) without taking out a second mortgage.

  14. JassMan Silver badge
    Linux

    Interesting

    It seems that Volvo are also a member of the GENIVI consortium. Are they trying to play one set of developers off against the other? "Add these features or we won't use your software in the next model."

    Icon because genivi and android are both based on linux.

    1. annodomini2

      Re: Interesting

      Never put all your eggs in one basket

  15. cdrcat

    I bought a Ford (not recommended) and if the dashboard "crashes" then the headlights turn off (because headlights are not critical to safety? WTF).

    This is damn scary when driving at night at speed (I live in a rural area at present).

  16. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "the stolid Swedish automaker" is owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. They bought it from Ford in 2010; after Ford owned Volvo for some 11 years.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      It's still a Swedish auto-maker.

      Making cars and buying shares are two separate activities.

  17. Oengus

    Already do.

    You may want to steer well clear of new Volvos in the coming years.

    Because of the way they drive I have been avoiding Volvo drivers for years... I can't see this changing anything.

  18. M7S

    Removing the SIM so that you can control things like over the air updates

    If its anything like the Tesla, and I asked the salesperson directly, then you also lose some of the useful built in things like mapping, traffic updates etc.

    This seems to be the way newer cars are going at present.

    That's a shame, possibly very stupid, as I'd prefer any updates to be done only with the thing is parked at home and when I accept them (having hopefully checked there are no reported problems for early updaters) but would rather need some of the navigation functions to make the car useful. Yes I could have a backup satnav from Halfords stuck to the windscreen but that's not really the point in a modern car and most drivers of such things will not understand the need to be so discriminating regarding their data connections.

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