This is the Polestar 2, the first long-range battery EV from Volvo's new spinoff. [credit: Polestar ]
Volvo's newest brand, Polestar, took the wraps off the Polestar 2 yesterday, the company's all-electric Tesla Model 3 fighter. Polestar has done some interesting rethinking of how a car should work (The car starts via a chair-mounted pressure switch! It has a crazy ownership subscription plan!). And one of the more wide-ranging features is in the infotainment system: this is the first car with Android Auto built in.
Previously, we've seen a smartphone app from Google called "Android Auto" that, like Apple's CarPlay, runs on your smartphone and uses the car display as an external monitor. This project with Polestar is a full-blown operating system instead of a single app, and it is built into the car's hardware instead of running on your smartphone. It doesn't really have a name yet. Volvo was just calling it "Android," and Google in the past has referred to it as both "Android Automotive" and "Android Auto built-in."
Since at least 2014, Google has been on a mission to expand its phone-operating-system business into a car-operating-system business. Google's plan for car manufacturers really is a direct extension of how Android phones work: Google builds a special car version of the Android OS and car manufacturers build the hardware. Car manufacturers can skin Android to make it look different from the competition, but they all share Google's app ecosystem, which includes the Play Store, Google Maps, and the Google Assistant. Car manufacturers get a much more capable, more compatible OS than they could build themselves, and Google gets revenue from ads and the app store.