Volvo is integrating YouTube and Google Assistant into its vehicles

Volvo is a company that made its name on safety, and like many other automakers, it's currently working on transitioning from traditional vehicles to electric vehicles only. While completing its transition from a mix of EVs and combustion-powered vehicles to pure electric vehicles will take some time, Volvo is looking towards that future and aiming to solve some of the problems it sees arising for owners.

Volvo has announced that it is doing two things that will benefit owners of combustion-powered Volvo vehicles but could be particularly appealing to those who own a Volvo electric vehicle. Volvo has announced that YouTube is coming to all Volvo cars with Google built-in. The automaker has also announced that it will be the first in the industry to launch direct integration with Google Assistant-enabled devices.

YouTube Integration

Volvo has announced that integrated YouTube video playback is coming to all Volvo cars with Google built-in. Volvo will allow owners of compatible vehicles to download the YouTube app via Google Play directly on its vehicles. Volvo isn't the first automaker to support YouTube video streaming in its vehicles.

Tesla currently supports the streaming of YouTube and Hulu in Model S, Model X, and Model 3 vehicles. However, both Tesla and Volvo only allow streaming of YouTube while the vehicle is parked. Volvo says it sees the ability to stream YouTube videos in its cars as an important feature for those who own electric vehicles.

Electric vehicle owners will potentially spend hours sitting at a charging station on longer trips waiting for their vehicle to charge so they can continue. By offering YouTube streaming in the vehicle while parked, those waiting for charging to complete who don't want to leave the vehicle or who are charging in an area with nothing else around will have something to do.

With Volvo's reputation for safety, we don't expect it to allow YouTube streaming while the vehicle is in motion. YouTube streaming for passengers would certainly be a welcome feature, but Volvo has stated it won't compromise safety and only intends to allow video streaming while the car is stationary. The video will stream on the large center display of its vehicles. YouTube streaming is enabled by the unlimited data connection in the vehicle.

There are other scenarios where streaming YouTube videos would be welcome that don't involve charging. For example, any parent sitting in a pickup line waiting for their children to come out of school will appreciate the ability to stream videos. Volvo has also confirmed that it intends to allow owners of compatible cars to download navigation apps, including Sygic and Flitsmeister and apps from Chargepoint and Plugshare.

Volvo owners will also be able to download apps to help them find parking spots like SpotHero and ParkWhiz. Apps of that type are essential for assisting Volvo owners in finding a place to park their vehicle or charge it in busier urban areas.

Direct Integration with Google Assistant Devices

Along with the announcement of YouTube streaming and the availability of various apps, Volvo Cars also announced that it's the first automaker to enable direct integration of its vehicles with Google Assistant-enabled devices. The intention behind integration with Google Assistant devices is to allow vehicle owners to control functions in their vehicle using their voice.

The integration allows owners to warm the vehicle up on a cold winter day before they go out and start driving. One of the things that many people loathe about the winter months is getting into a freezing car and waiting for it to warm up while driving. Volvo will allow users to pair their vehicle with a Google account.

Once the vehicle is paired with a Google account, users will be able to talk to Google in their car in addition to remote control of vehicle functions. In addition to warming their vehicle remotely, an owner can remotely lock the doors. Volvo promises to grow the list of available voice commands for its vehicles in the future.

Among the planned future functionality with the Google Assistant integration is charge scheduling. Charge scheduling is an important feature for electric vehicle owners who want to charge their car at off-peak times when electricity is the cheapest. Presumably, that functionality will allow EV owners to say things like, "Google charge my car at midnight."

Since Volvo is a company that is extremely focused on safety, certain functions, such as unlocking car doors will require two-factor authentication. That's an important security feature that would prevent any unauthorized person who gained entry to a home from using Google Assistant to unlock the vehicle doors and steal the car or items inside the vehicle.

The two-factor authentication would presumably send a text message to the phone number associated with the Google account or an email for the owner to confirm they want to unlock the doors. Volvo says Google Assistant functionality will be made available "in the coming months" in a gradual rollout of all Volvo owners of vehicles with Android-powered infotainment systems and to Google Assistant-enabled devices in select areas. However, it's unclear where the select areas are at this time.