Google announced at its I/O event on Wednesday that YouTube will be available for all Google-built cars, starting with Polestar vehicles in the coming weeks.
The expansion of YouTube’s availability comes as more and more new vehicles today are equipped with high-tech infotainment systems that promise to add a new level of convenience and entertainment to the lives of drivers and passengers. What that often looks like in practice is more screens, both in the front for the driver and in the back for passengers.
Many vehicles today can already access YouTube via Android Auto, an app that runs through an Android phone and communicates wirelessly with the vehicle, allowing drivers to access their apps on the car’s display. However, this latest integration is available for cars with Google built-in. In other words, it’s available for cars powered by the Android Automotive operating system, which is modeled after an open-source mobile operating system running on Linux. Instead of running smartphones and tablets, Google adapted it so automakers could use it in their cars, integrating Google apps and services like Maps, Assistant, and Play directly into the vehicle.
As with other Google-based video and gaming services, YouTube will only be available to passengers and while the car is parked, according to the company.
The Polestar 2 was the first vehicle to have Google built in, and earlier this year the automaker said the Polestar 3 will include Google’s HD mapping solution; launching YouTube is the next logical step. Google expects to announce more partnerships with automakers in the coming weeks and months.
Google has announced partnerships with Volvo and Mercedes. It should be noted that the Mercedes deal is a little different from this wider offering. Mercedes has described it as a licensing agreement that will bring the Google Maps platform, Cloud and YouTube into future Mercedes-Benz vehicles equipped with the automaker’s next-generation operating system called MB.OS.
Google also announced new ways to game in the car at the I/O event. Google built-in cars can now also play games from GameSnacks for Android Auto. GameSnacks is a platform that offers a collection of bite-sized games, such as Solitaire or Beach Buggy Racing, that are perfect to play while waiting for your car to charge or while picking up kids from school.
Google said at its annual developer conference on Wednesday that it expects the number of Google-built cars to double by the end of this year. The company didn’t give a baseline, but Google is already built into vehicles from a range of brands like Chevrolet, Renault, Volvo and Honda, meaning the in-car gaming revolution has even more chance to take off.
Others in the automotive industry have pursued other in-car gaming opportunities. Polestar, along with BYD and Hyundai, is also working with Nvidia to bring the company’s on-demand cloud gaming service, GeForce Now, to select vehicles. Tesla has long offered in-car gaming, and last year integrated Steam’s library of thousands of games into its vehicles. And last year BMW teamed up with gaming platform AirConsole to bring a collection of single and multiplayer games to new vehicles, starting with the 2023 BMW 7 Series.