CES 2017 will be packed with automotive announcements, from new electric vehicles launches, to autonomous technologies, and connected driving developments.
Ahead of the show’s official opening on Thursday, Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) just announced an interesting new smart infotainment system based on Android.
The new Uconnect system features an 8.4-inch touchscreen and runs Android. As far as we can tell, its “regular” Android, not Android Auto, the lighter solution Google develops specifically for cars. It’s not clear why Google is now pushing Android over Android Auto, but according to the press release announcing the system, the new Uconnect heralds “next-generation connected car systems enabled by the power of an open platform and ecosystem of Android.”
If you’re familiar with FCA’s Uconnect UI, you’ll feel right at home using the new system: “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,” said Chris Barman, Head of Electrical Engineering at FCA.
It seems that Android – Nougat, to be precise – serves as the underlying platform, with FCA supplying the “skin,” similar to how smartphone makers customize the appearance of their Android implementations.
“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, Director of Android Engineering at Google. Again, no mention of Android Auto.
The system will be compatible with Android apps, including Google’s Assistant and Maps, as well as third-party apps like Pandora, Spotify and Pocket Casts. It’s worth noting that the new Android-powered infotainment system is a concept that may or may not arrive to production models. We’ll make sure to check it out at CES later this week and we’ll bring you all the details.