In anticipation of Google I/O this week, the company announced that Google Maps, Google Assistant, and the Play Store will be coming to Volvo's Sensus infotainment system during the next few years. It also won't require owning an Android phone to use.
This announcement isn't necessarily "new" per se. In fact, Volvo, Audi, and Google announced their partnership at last year's Google I/O in order to build their new infotainment systems around Android Nougat. Today's announcement is an important step in fully realizing Android in the car and hopefully modernizing an area where cars haven't particularly been well liked.
Car manufacturers have been slowly rolling out Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to their respective infotainment systems. The technology essentially acts as a mirror for your phone, allowing you access to important features such as music, podcasts, phone calls, and even messaging while driving. Obviously, the latter is done in a way to keep your eyes on the road. In Volvo's case, the entire car's operating system will be Android although Volvo will be able to tailor the actual experience similar to how smartphone OEMs customize their phones.
Speaking of Android Auto, Google also announced that the UI itself is getting a visual refresh. In addition to supporting group messaging, Android Auto will also support Rich Communication Service (RCS). This is important because it's the same technology that Google is trying to leverage for its new messaging service called Chat.
Google is also trying to make Android Auto better for third party app integration by making it easier to display actionable information thus cutting down on the amount of taps the driver has to do. This will hopefully cut down on distracted driving.