Your car is about to get a lot more entertaining. Although engineers have long debated the merits and feasibility of an in-car information and entertainment system, it’s been mostly a theoretical conversation. At least it was, until one car company decided to take the plunge and give infotainment a try.
Fiat Chrysler Automotives has teamed up with Google to give the world a very different type of driving experience. Engineers have fitted a Chrysler 300 Sedan with and Android-powered infotainment system. They plan to unveil the technologically tricked-out vehicle at CES, as an example of how cars can integrate outside operating systems.
Google’s Android system has been melded with the vehicle’s standard infotainment program, UConnect. Drivers and users will be able to enjoy all of their favorite Android apps, as well as the the features from UConnect they’ve come to know and love.
This is a significant step forward for Google, which has been banking heavily on entering the automotive field for some time now. But with so many car companies determined to create their own infotainment systems, it has been slow going indeed.
But just because they share a name, don’t assume that Android and Android Auto are the same. For one thing, Android Auto isn’t actually an operating system; instead, it’s a secondary interface that sits on top of the actual operating system, UConnect. The original Android operating system, meanwhile, has enjoyed a cosmetic makeover in its most recent update that makes it dashboard friendly. All of this is geared towards proving that Android can interface effectively with existing infotainment systems.
Until the Fiat is unveiled at CES with the fully integrated Android Auto system, it’s hard to know how other automakers will react to Google’s leap into the car world. Will Android Auto be the new must-have feature for vehicles? Or will car companies continue to stick to their own interfaces? For their part, Google is hoping that the union of infotainment technology that handles media streaming, app usage, navigation, HVAC, and Bluetooth will be seen as a necessary feature by major car companies and consumers alike.