Ford partners with Google, bringing Android to its cars starting 2023

Our phones have two main operating systems, and you only have to choose between Apple or Android. But for some reason, car manufacturers seem to prefer to roll one themselves, which – more often than not – results in half-baked infotainment systems that are unintuitive at best, or completely unusable at worst.

Fortunately, more carmakers are slowly realising that it just isn’t feasible to create their own infotainment system any more, leaving software to the pros. Ford and Google today announced a strategic six-year partnership, that will help the carmaker accelerate its transformation plan and “reinvent connected vehicle experience”.

The big news in this partnership is that all Ford and Lincoln models at “all price points” will be powered by the Android Automotive operating system, with Google services baked right into the cars. These services include Google Maps, Google Assistant, as well as the Google Play Store, where users can download various other applications – all optimised and integrated for in-vehicle use.

The Android system will also open up the doors for third party developers – in addition to Ford themselves – to build new apps that will provide an “ever more personalised ownership experience”.

Ford President and CEO, Jim Farley commented on the newly-minted partnership: “As Ford continues the most profound transformation in our history with electrification, connectivity, and self-driving, Google and Ford coming together establishes an innovation powerhouse truly
able to deliver a superior experience for our customers and modernise our business.”

Ford’s Sync 4 system from the Mustang Mach-E.

Alongside the Android Automotive operating system, Ford will also leverage on Google Cloud’s Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and data analytics technologies to modernise the carmaker’s operations, while also powering connected vehicle technologies.

The cars will be able to receive constant over-the-air updates to ensure everything in the vehicle is working smoothly or even enable new features, as well as real-time notices such as maintenance requests or trade-in alerts.

To alleviate any privacy concerns, Ford has also clarified that Google will not have access to Ford data in the cloud. Google also further assures that they won’t share third-party data with advertisers through this system, according to a spokesperson at the press conference.

“From the first moving assembly line to the latest driver-assist technology, Ford has set the pace of innovation for the automotive industry for nearly 120 years,” said Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai. “We’re proud to partner to apply the best of Google’s AI, data analytics, compute and cloud platforms to help transform Ford’s business and build automotive technologies that keep people safe and connected on the road.”

The two companies will also form a new collaborative group called Team Upshift, which will make use of the talent and assets of both Ford and Google to develop anything from a new personalised retail experience, new data-driven ownership offers based on connected vehicle data, and more.

“We are obsessed with creating must-have, distinctively Ford products and services,” said Farley. “This integration will unleash our teams to innovate for Ford and Lincoln customers while seamlessly providing access to Google’s world-class apps and services.”


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