Netflix and charge? Google Cast support coming to EVs

Watching google cast of NBA app on Rivian R1S infotainment screen
(Image credit: Future)

With electric vehicles, the waiting can be the hardest part — as in the time you spend waiting for your EV to power up at a charging station. Google thinks that time could be spent catching up on your streaming, particularly if you've got an EV with a nice big display on its control panel.

To that end, as part of the Android updates announced during Google I/O, Google said it plans to bring Google Cast to cars with Android Automotive OS in the coming months. First up will be Rivian, whose offerings include an electric SUV and pick-up truck. Google says more car makers will add support in the future.

I got to sit inside a Rivian R1S parked just outside the Shoreline Amphitheater at Google I/O. While Google executives were on stage going into greater depth on their plans for the Gemini AI model, I was sitting the R1S's back seat, watching a trailer for "IF" being cast from the YouTube app on an Android phone to the 15.6-inch display of the vehicle's infotainment system. The audio from the trailer played from the car's 22 speakers, loud enough for me to hear it from the back.

During the Google Cast demo, we soon switched to the NBA app to get a preview of that night's playoff games, but we certainly weren't struggling for options on what to cast. Google says there are 3,000 cast-enabled apps out there, so you'll have plenty of things to watch on your infotainment display while you wait for your vehicle to charge.

And make no mistake — this feature is designed specifically for when your vehicle is parked. If we had tried to rev up that Rivian R1S and drive off — not an easy thing to do when you're parked in the middle of a crowded developer conference — the casting would have come to a stop. So put away those dreams of casting YouTube on your EV's infotainment screen as you cruise at 70 mph.

The casting process is as simple as it would be if you were to cast from your phone to a screen at home — just launch the app, select the cast option and select the desired screen, which was the Rivian's in this case. If you need to access other controls on the infotainment panel, just swipe down. 

In my demo, the Android device was connected to the Rivian's hotspot, which is over LTE, as it is with most EVs. Whether a feature like this persuades car makers to consider 5G for better streaming remains to be seen.

The addition of Google Cast support was just one automotive announcement made at I/O. The number of vehicles with Google Built-in is expanding to include the Honda Acura ZDX and Ford Explorer among others. Compatible cars can access apps, Google Maps and the Google Assistant.

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.