Android Automotive OS in Volvo XC40 Recharge Could Make Android Auto and Carplay Extinct–But Too Smartphoney?

A new user experience evaluation from Strategy Analytics’ In-vehicle UX (IVX) group has assessed the Volvo XC40 Recharge Electric 22MY infotainment system and relevant HMI. The result of collaboration between Google and Volvo initiated back in 2016, this system provides a seamless digital experience in and outside the car, and benefits from the unbeatable Google navigation and speech systems. However, driving features have been relegated behind design, hindering usability.

Although shadowed by the release of Polestar 2, The Volvo XC40 Recharge Electric is Volvo’s first infotainment system powered by Android Automotive OS (AAOS) and provides a seamless digital experience for both iPhone and Android users, consequently rendering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto unnecessary.

Diana Franganillo, Director IVX and report author commented, “The system has been designed to have some parallelism in appearance and usability not only with smartphone devices, but also with the coexisting Sensus OS, as exemplified with the four-tabbed home view. But in some cases, smartphone resemblance has been taken too far and driving features are not given sufficient importance, are not easy to access whilst driving, and are not obvious enough. The lack of use of icons and color coding to support the system operation whilst driving is more evidence of this.”

Continued Franganillo, “Furthermore, the lengthy and tedious process of logging into Google’s account to link it with the vehicle profiles does not add to the user experience and its aesthetics, which are more Google-like than Scandi, and may establish a functional rather than emotional connection with the user.”

Added Chris Schreiner, Director IVX, “Google Maps-powered navigation and Google Assistant-enabled speech make the vehicle unbeatable in these areas, but limitations in accessing essential driving functionality hinders usability. However, we await the next generation of AAOS, which promises a more contextual, personalized and customizable experience. And hopefully the return of a more Scandi-Volvo look.”

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