The JOYNEXT GmbH Android IVI Extension Box is the first to enable integration of Android OS 9 Pie as an Android IVI Extension Box. It allows the car itself to support Android functions, without requiring a connected smartphone. The solution, which is entering the Chinese market, was developed for a well-known European OEM.

“The Chinese market is an eager adopter of innovations, and sometimes even demands them,” says Stavros Mitrakis, CEO of JOYNEXT GmbH in Dresden. “Customers want to use exactly the same apps they have on their smartphones in their cars.”

Low power draw essential for automotive use

JOYNEXT’s Android IVI Extension Box delivers Android applications to in-car systems. The plug-and-play box supplements the vehicle’s head unit, supporting all Android functions. Unlike previous solutions, no smartphones or hypervisors are required. All communications run through the vehicle, with the head unit serving as a router. JOYNEXT also integrated a custom security concept in the software to facilitate this.

The Android IVI Extension Box components and operating modes were chosen and optimized to meet the specific requirements in the vehicle. Essential features include a low power draw and a long service life.

Over-the-air updates for apps and security patches

OEMs can specify the interface design and the selection of apps available in the App Store. That means apps popular locally can be installed via the OEM’s dedicated App Store.

The Android IVI Extension Box also showcases an innovation by JOYNEXT, an attractive upgrade to previous technical solutions. Usually, automotive manufacturers can only approve head unit software as a whole. As a result, the system can only be updated in its entirety, as every update affects the overall system. This procedure is very labor-intensive.

As a separate system, the JOYNEXT Android IVI Extension Box is completely independent and can be updated regularly. The design also keeps the Android system sandboxed from the vehicle system for an additional layer of security. Separating the head unit and the Android IVI Extension Box reduces the development workload for the automotive manufacturer, also increasing the speed at which new features can be implemented.

“We were able to implement this project very rapidly without compromising on quality,” says Mitrakis. “That’s what the market wants and expects.” From nomination to the start of volume production in Changchun, the Android IVI Extension Box development project took just one and a half years, reports the CEO of the Dresden-based company.

Chinese market driving innovation

Another new aspect is China serving as the lead market for a premium innovation of this kind. That was a new experience for the experts from Dresden. The JOYNEXT Android IVI Extension Box was created in response to customer requests. With the infrastructure available in China, the technology already has several applications there today.