FCA’s next-gen Uconnect system may be powered by Google’s Android

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2017 Chrysler 300

2017 Chrysler 300

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU] has teamed up with Google to develop a version of the Uconnect infotainment system powered by Android. Uconnect can be found in most of FCA’s brands and features an 8.4-inch touchscreen display as its main input source.

The version of Uconnect powered by Android, to be demonstrated in a Chrysler 300 sedan at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, will run the latest version of Google’s popular operating system, version 7.0, nicknamed Nougat.

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The infotainment system has been designed so that the Android OS works away in the back end, controlling some key car features like the radio and comfort settings. There are also a few of Google’s own apps integrated with the system, such as Google Assistant and Google Maps.

At the front end, the user will be faced with FCA’s own designs for the various screens, tailored to each of its brands.

Google a step closer to taking control of infotainment

Though a release date hasn't been mentioned, the move brings Google a step closer to taking control of car infotainment systems, just as it has in the smartphone world. Recall, the tech giant has already developed its own Android-based infotainment system.

“Google is committed to building Android as a turn-key automotive platform that integrates deeply with the vehicle in a safe and seamless way,” senior Android developer Patrick Brady said in a statement. “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.”

Other automakers have been wary of ceding control of key components such as the infotainment system to an outside firm, especially when it comes to privacy of data collected. For example, we’ve already seen Toyota reject Android Auto and the similar Apple CarPlay smartphone integration system. It will be interesting to watch this battle play out.

CES starts January 5, 2017. For more on the show, head to our dedicated hub.

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