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Ford names Google preferred cloud provider, all vehicles will run Android by 2023

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Daniel Howley
·Technology Editor
·2 min read
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The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV is shown at the AutoMobility LA auto show Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Beginning in 2023, all Ford and Lincoln vehicle interfaces will be powered by Google's Android. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Ford (F) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL) are entering into a new strategic partnership that will see the 117-year-old automaker replace its in-car infotainment systems with a new Android-powered offering. What’s more, Ford has named Google Cloud as its preferred cloud provider.

The partnership will not only change the way users interact with their vehicles by adding Android directly to the car’s interface, but allow Ford to take advantage of Google Cloud’s artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and data analytics capabilities to modernize product development, employee training and allow vehicles to receive real-time notifications related to maintenance requests and trade-in deals.

The joint announcement follows a similar reveal by GM that Microsoft will serve as the preferred cloud provider for its Cruise self-driving vehicle business. Cruise, which is a joint effort with Honda, is seeking to commercialize self-driving cars, which Microsoft will assist in.

According to Ford and Google, starting in 2023 all new Ford and Lincoln vehicles will feature interfaces powered by Android and running Android apps. Ford’s current Sync system allows users to access Google’s Android Auto, which lets drivers run Android apps on their vehicles’ screens via their smartphone.

Sync also offers access to Apple (AAPL) CarPlay for iPhone users, which lets users take advantage of certain iPhone apps from behind the wheel. The new interface will continue support for CarPlay.

While Android will power the interface, Ford will still be able to customize it to suit its needs including its look. Google’s Assistant will also be front and center, giving users the ability to request directions or ask questions of the virtual assistant hands free.

Google Maps will also serve as the default in-car navigation service for Ford and Lincoln vehicles and include everything you’d expect of the app including lane guidance, real-time traffic, and automatic rerouting if you miss a turn.

The Google Play Store will also be available through the new interface, allowing users to download auto-specific apps including music and podcast services.

We’re still a way off from the new interface making its way to Ford and Lincoln’s vehicles, so anything can change between now and then. But the team-up should dramatically improve the look and feel of the automakers’ infotainment systems, which have been relatively clunky up until now.

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