Android Automotive is going mainstream: a review of General Motors’ new infotainment system


Android Automotive, Google’s operating system for cars, has historically been a sweet spot, and few have been as high-profile as Polestar 2 I used it. Now, though, Android Automotive is going mainstream, and we’re starting to see some of the biggest car manufacturers roll out Google’s OS across entire lineups.

Today, we’re looking at the 2022 GMC Yukon, but this is GM’s Android for cars, and you’ll see it introduced in most of GM’s lineup in the future. Same basic setup Hummer EV1And, with all the parts involved going on at GM, expect to see this system pop up in Chevys, GMCs, Cadillacs, and Buicks. with Ford and Honda Jump to Android Automotive in the near future Google’s car operating system will soon be ubiquitous.

Let’s get the usual disclaimer out of the way: this article Not About Android Auto, Google’s connected mobile app and Apple CarPlay competitor. android the carswritten in full (sometimes described as “Google built”), means the car is one of the big Android devices. A computer runs the car’s infotainment system, and that computer runs Android. Even if you have an iPhone in your pocket, it won’t change what operating system your car is running (it supports CarPlay, with That).For most models, buying a GM means buying an Android car.You’ll see a pop-up message on the screen during setup that says, “By using this vehicle, you agree to Google’s terms of service.”

The idea here is kind of logical. Consumers want a car’s infotainment system to look and function more like a smartphone, so why not just load up the car with a smartphone operating system? Then, you get all the smooth, touchscreen-based navigation for quick navigation that people have come to expect from a modern computer. Android Automotive is a Google-blessed operating system, and just like the phone companies, manufacturers like Ford, GM, and Volvo sign deals with Google to license the operating system and a slew of Google apps. This car has Google Maps, which is probably the biggest killer app in the auto industry. You can also get voice commands from the Google Assistant and the Google Play Store for cars, allowing easy access to apps like Spotify and other media players.

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Hardware: four screens, three operating systems

Main infotainment screen.
Zoom in / Main infotainment screen.

Ron Amadeo

Revising a car’s computer is a strange proposition because the hardware is always very outdated. It takes about five years to develop a car, and when cars finally hit the market, computers aren’t all that excited. The hardware for our Android Car – internally called “General Motors Infotainment 3.7” or “gminfo37” – is a 5 year old Intel Atom A3960 SoC with Intel HD Graphics 500, 6GB of RAM , and 64 GB of flash storage.

This isn’t uniquely a GM-specific problem, and the same CPU is in the Polestar 2—though that system only has 4GB of RAM—so we’ll classify both cars as “first-generation Android Automotive devices.” However, the age of the devices is noticeable. Android Automotive doesn’t let you upload apps to a production car, but you can search for them Atom A3960 Geekbench scoresAnd you’ll see that the computer in this $78,000 car is… Hardly faster From the $35 Raspberry Pi. The GMC Yukon and Polestar 2 both feature one of the slowest CPUs you can buy today in any form factor.

I’m sure the Atom A3960 went through a lengthy certification process to ensure it can withstand the heat and vibrations of a tough vehicle environment, but it’s disappointing to see GMC ship what are essentially PC parts from 2016. Even if it’s five years of hardware delays, it’s unavoidable. The company may have started with mid-range or high-end 2016 Intel hardware instead of cheap Atom parts.

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