In a move reminiscent of Ford and Microsoft 10 years ago, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Google are teaming to create the newest version of FCA’s Uconnect connected car system. Like their forefathers, the duo will unveil the new system at CES in Las Vegas.
The new Uconnect 8.4-inch system will seamlessly integrate Android, the world’s most used open-source operating system. The system will allow Uconnect to customize its interface, a full featured infotainment stack through Android Auto, and the ability to integrate Android apps into the infotainment system.
“This collaboration with Google has been an extremely beneficial opportunity for both companies to explore how in-vehicle infotainment and connectivity technology continues to evolve, and what it takes to meet consumers’ increasing desire for innovation of information with minimal distraction,” says Chris Barman, Head of Electrical Engineering for FCA. “With Android, we are able to maintain our unique and intuitive Uconnect user interface, all while integrating our easy-to-use systems with Android’s features and ecosystem of applications.”
The integration will also use the latest Android OS — 7.0 Nougat — which includes radio and comfort controls, in addition to popular apps such as Google Maps, Google Assistant virtual personal assistant, Pandora internet radio, music service Spotify, National Public Radio’s playback app NPR One and podcast-player Pocket Casts.
Perhaps more importantly, the Uconnect touchscreen will look similar to what Android smartphone and tablet users are used to their mobile device screens.
“Google is committed to building Android as a turn-key automotive platform that integrates deeply with the vehicle in a safe and seamless way,” said Patrick Brady, Google’s Director of Android Engineering. “This collaboration with FCA brings together the industry standard for connected car systems with Android to create powerful infotainment systems designed for the digital age.”
The system at CES will be shown as a concept but it will be very close to integration, making it into the first FCA vehicles for the 2018 model year and possibly as early as the spring on some late-2017 models.