FCA to demo a concept of its new Android-powered UConnect infotainment system at CES 2017

Article by Christian A., on January 5, 2017

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is indeed placing more of its focus into in-car technology as evidenced by its decision not to unveil any new production vehicle or show car at the Detroit Auto Show as well as by its intention to demonstrate a concept version of its planned Google Android-based infotainment system at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Essentially, the UConnect connect vehicle system to be shown at the CES 2017 isn’t the final version yet. The demonstration aims to show the seamless integration of Google’s Android operating software and FCA’s UConnect infotainment system. This means that via the demo, FCA and Google want to show that the new UConnect still has the easy-to-use interface and functionality of the current system but now comes loaded with several elements that are only found in Android-powered devices.

As part of the hands-on concept demo at the CES 2017 (scheduled from January 5 to 8, 2017), FCA and Google will showcase a Chrysler 300 unit. Its current 8.4-inch UConnect software has been replaced with a prototype UConnect system that is based on Google’s Android 7.0 (Android Nougat) operating system.

The hands-on one-on-one demo will include the presentation of core infotainment features like radio as well as climate controls. It will also show the compatibility of popular Android-based programs (applications) with the new U-Connect infotainment system. In addition, the demo would show that the new UConnect infotainment system also works smoothly with Android apps like Google Maps and Google Assistant as well as Spotify, Pandora, Pocket Casts and NPR One.

While many infotainment systems currently available on existing vehicles are compatible with Android Auto, these technologies could only access Google features through the vehicle’s display when a suitable Android-based smartphone is connected. Once the infotainment system is disconnected from the smartphone, it loses the ability to use the features of the Android device. However, with the UConnect now being powered by Android Nougat, the infotainment system could access Android-based features even without connecting to a smartphone.

Chris Barman, Head of Electrical Engineering at FCA, remarked that the partnership between the carmaker and Google provides both companies with the opportunity to explore how in-vehicle infotainment and connectivity technology would further evolve and to determine what is needed to continually cater to the increasing demand from consumers for more in-vehicle information but with less distraction.

Patrick Brady, Director of Android Engineering at Google, quipped that the partnership between the two companies combines the Android operating system and the industry standard for connected car systems to create infotainment systems suitable for the digital age.

For those who want to take part in the demo, they could visit FCA’s booth at exhibit 6306 at the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Press Release

FCA and Google Collaborate on a Uconnect System Concept Powered by Android

FCA and Google are using CES 2017 to demonstrate a seamless integration of the award-winning Uconnect 8.4-inch connected vehicle system featuring Android, the world’s most popular open-source operating system.

A hands-on concept demonstration of the power of combining Uconnect with Android is on display at CES, Jan. 5-8, inside a Chrysler 300 sedan.

FCA is in collaboration with Google regarding the next-generation connected car systems enabled by the power of an open platform and ecosystem of Android.

“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, 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.”

CES attendees can get one-on-one demonstrations of the Uconnect system powered by the latest version of Android, 7.0 Nougat, which includes core infotainment features such as radio and comfort controls.

The Uconnect and Android integration also enable a system that is built for connectivity and compatibility with the universe of popular Android applications. The demonstration will show a seamless integration with Google Assistant, Google Maps and popular Android apps like Pandora, Spotify, NPR One and Pocket Casts.

“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, Google. “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.”

To visit the FCA exhibit, #6306, navigate to the North Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center from Thursday, Jan. 5 – Sunday, Jan. 8.

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