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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
VW has switched to using Android automotive as the basis for its open source VW.OS, and the ID.3 and 4 are the first to use it. This is the OS that runs on our infotainment head unit. They have 3000 software engineers working on it so they can get from the current 10% developed in-house up to their goal of 60%. (5000 working on it by 2025.)
Volkswagen to develop in-house software for next-gen cars
It is not the same as the Android Auto app that runs on your phone and sends its display to your head unit. This transition is huge, and likely why we get so many bugs. For the last 15 years VW used the Blackberry QNX OS:
QNX Provides Software Platform for Volkswagen Infotainment Systems

Its great that VW is one of the first to make the big OS switch, and all the big makers are too:
Ford says ‘millions’ of its vehicles will run on Google’s Android starting in 2023
But the current Mach-e are getting the old Blackberry OS, that may be a fun upgrade!

Also Volvo/polestar have it now, and GM and all its brands:
GM will use Google’s embedded Android Automotive OS in cars starting in 2021

Stellantis (FCA-Dodge, Chrysler) are all switching starting now:
Hands-on with Stellantis’ new Android-based Uconnect 5 infotainment

The question I have: will automotive-approved Android apps like ABRP be available in VW's cars via the Play Store without requiring the use of a smartphone? Once we have the Android OS on the head unit, its not hard to allow apps. Volvo, Polestar, GM, FCA and others are already doing it. This would be another big step I can see coming and would like to see on my car. Its a great way to replace the current bad navigation app with something much better like ABRP, or to add apps and features we haven't even seen yet. So far it appears the answer is no, since in my 1st link above VW wants to lock it down tight (to monetize the data) and not let the google play store on our car.
 
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If the current underlying OS is actually Android Automotive like you're saying, then why the hell did they not just use Google Maps as the base for built-in nav??
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If the current underlying OS is actually Android Automotive like you're saying, then why the hell did they not just use Google Maps as the base for built-in nav??
I agree, and the answer may be in the 1st link, where they want to keep full control and monetize all that data. “For this reason alone, we cannot give third parties complete access to data in our vehicles. Future digital value creation should remain within the company. " They say that they are in a transition to android, we don't really know how far along they are, or how far they will go. With all the other makers going to full android auto where you can choose your nav. app, VW will allow much more than they currently are. I expect it all to change quickly, and the ones who can handle the quick OTA improvements will be the winners. That is where Tesla has a huge lead.
 
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If you look at the architecture screenshot in the linked article, VW is using Linux (likely Automotive Linux), and/or Android Automotive, and then a whole bunch of other things. That maps quite well to the subsystem list @Andy at Ross-Tech.com published, recall that there was a Linux and a Java layer.
Also note that the VW article is 10 months old, things might have shifted quite a bit at VW since then.

In Volvos and Polestars you find fairly native Andoid Automotive. Not in VWs. Which makes me think that a third-party app store is not in the cards. But VW has an ecosystem/app thing in the architecture layout graphic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes I agree, and the Android kernel is linux based so could account for it. Things are shifting fast if they really go from 10% in house to 60%, on the 10 million lines of code they mention.
 

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On the VW Automotive Cloud platform side of things, they are partnering with Microsoft and the office VW is building-out in Redmond, WA (Redmond Town Center) is a courtyard away from an Amazon office building that's also in the process of it's build-out.

Hopefully they'll upgrade the 50kW EA chargers in town.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The ironic thing is that if VW doesn't improve their apps, customers will just run Google maps, Apple maps, ABRP etc. and they lost the monetization of that anyway. Yet made it harder on customers by not letting us pick our nav, pick our music, etc. I would choose ABRP for nav. and Spotify for music to default on my head unit!
 

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I'm having trouble with this article, because it says "The new open-source Linux or Android software and platform will be used to drive infotainment system..." so it's not really a kernel for VW OS.

Really, we're just talking of the possibility of a very thin customer-facing Android layer on top of VW's OS. I thought ARS did a good job covering it but this article is older: Volkswagen’s bold plan to create a new car operating system

In that article, I think VW is talking 2025 for implementation!

You can get a pretty good idea of how minimal an Android implementation this is (if it's in there yet, I think not) in that VW launched with their proprietary navigation, with Android Auto running in a window. Nothing in the ID.4 reads as Android until I plug my phone in. Put this in contrast to Polestar, who is very clearly running Google Maps when you click on Maps, and it doesn't require a phone connection to do so.

So is VW's plan to take this Android layer (have they already??) and not use it natively, but run it only as the Infotainment source code source code with a VW skin?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm pretty sure the ID.4 is not running Android Automotive OS. Where are we seeing that?
Its not, its running VW.OS which is based on android, it may only be the kernel and some java, and slowly they add more. They have not released much info about how much android is in there now versus how much we may eventually get. Android Automotive OS is what many other brands of cars are now getting even more phone like features of android like the polestar,volvo,and GM, but it sounds like polestar did a poor customization of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Really, we're just talking of the possibility of a very thin customer-facing Android layer on top of VW's OS. I thought ARS did a good job covering it but this article is older: Volkswagen’s bold plan to create a new car operating system
The interesting part of that is "Senger also revealed that VW Group will be using Android for future versions of the MIB infotainment platform, in large part because of the robust third-party app ecosystem with that OS versus Linux. "I think we need to open up. So Android will come in cars, giving customers access to this enormous ecosystem." The ID.4 is the future version of the MIB since that was 2019. So when do we get to see that ecosystem?
 

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That's not how
Its not, its running VW.OS which is based on android,...
I'm interpreting this the opposite way, that they don't want to rely on Android or QNX, so they're building VW OS completely in-house, clean sheet, and they'll add on a thin slice of Android for the UX and its apps, but sandbox Android from the rest of the system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
I'm interpreting this the opposite way, that they don't want to rely on Android or QNX, so they're building VW OS completely in-house, clean sheet, and they'll add on a thin slice of Android for the UX and its apps, but sandbox Android from the rest of the system.
From my 1st link, article a year old:
"The transition will start this year on Volkswagen’s electric MEB platform including the ID.3 hatchback and forthcoming ID.4 crossover SUV, then roll out on the high-performance PPE EV architecture in 2022, and finally all platforms by 2025.
It will also use Linux’s Realtime OS or Google Android’s Infotainment OS, both of which are open-source."

Google's infotainment OS is an alternate name for Android Automotive OS. They show it in the infographic in a layer as part of the VW.OS. Maybe someday we can go look at the source code and find out which parts of AAOS we got. Maybe that's a look at future plans where some cars will get more of AAOS. Since VW also shows an "ecosystem app store", that's what really got me thinking. That's not a thin slice of android, since those would be android apps. And that is the part I care about, so I can run ABRP and spotify, and other apps too, on my head unit without my phone.

And that arstechnica article linked above VW calls it "An Android-based infotainment system". I don't think they would call it that if its just the Android auto features it now has.
 

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I'm interpreting this the opposite way, that they don't want to rely on Android or QNX, so they're building VW OS completely in-house, clean sheet, and they'll add on a thin slice of Android for the UX and its apps, but sandbox Android from the rest of the system.
I get wanting to avoid complicated business relationships or having to pay royalties. But I hope that they leveraged some existing codebase and didn't try and write the whole thing from scratch.
 

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My iPhone 12 just shuddered with disgust.
Same, but remember that Android Automotive OS is years ahead of any other car system. I was surprised how responsive and polished Polestar's infotainment system was. I really dislike Android on phones and tablets but Android Auto is surprisingly good. I wish VW used it in the ID.4. Given how the ID.4's infotainment systems stalls, freezes and does everything a modern OS isn't supposed to do, I highly doubt they much, if any Android code.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I also wish they used full AAOS like Volvo/Polestar and GM are already doing (and Ford is planning) since we then would have google maps and the play store so we could install ABRP, spotify, etc. It would be more stable, and it would get updates every month. One of the advantages of AAOS is that it is open source and can be sliced and diced however the maker wants, and put their own skin on it to look like their legacy products and not like android phones. This is what VW and FCA (dodge,chrysler) have done, and they outline how and why in the links I gave. VW wants to monetize all our data so google doesn't get it, which is understandable, so they left off the play store and maps. In multiple of the interviews in the links above that's why they did not give us the full AAOS. They can choose whatever parts of AAOS they want, and polestar and GM are already hyping that they have Google maps as a big feature, and it is great compared to the stock VW nav.

I think the reason we get the bugs is what they said in the 1st link, they have a new OS and are trying to integrate it with "currently, up to 70 control units operating with software from 200 different suppliers must be networked in a T-Cross, Arteon or Touareg." Another vid today from Munro says they have reduced the number of control units in the ID.4 to 52, and that probably introduced new bugs since the remaining ECMs have to do more work.
 
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