Earlier this week the folks at Ford and Google have inked a deal on connected cars, with new models set to get Android-powered dashboards, while Team Upshift will be a new collaborative group to explore new ways to build, connect, and sell cars, SUVs, and bakkies. Meanwhile, the Google Cloud will be Ford’s preferred cloud provider – though not its only cloud provider – with implications for owners, dealers, and the automaker as it begins production of new models.
From 2023, we’ll see the first Ford models to use Android in the dashboard. That will include the Google Assistant for voice control, Google Maps for navigation, and access to the Google Play store for third-party apps and services tailored to in-vehicle use.
We’ve seen Android Automotive OS used this way already, of course, with Volvo and Polestar already having vehicles relying on the car-centric platform in dealerships. Unlike Android Auto, which projects a smartphone interface on top of the vehicle’s native software, Android Automotive OS runs in the vehicle itself. That allows it deep connections with things like engine status, battery charge level, and more.
What it may not mean, though, is an end to the now-familiar SYNC design we’ve seen in recent Ford vehicles.
Manufacturers using Android Automotive OS can customize its UI, to match the rest of their cabin aesthetic. The end result could be an interface that looks like what you’d find in, say, the new Mustang Mach-E electric crossover, but with a completely different – and more flexible – OS behind it. For now, Ford isn’t giving details though it is confirming that things like Apple CarPlay and Ford Smart Device Link (SDL) will continue to be supported even after the Android transition, as will Alexa integration.
Ford and Google won’t stop at what’s shown on the dashboard touchscreen, though. The two are creating what’s being described a collaborative group, Team Upshift.
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