Android Auto Powered Chrysler 300 to be Unveiled by Google and FCA at CES 2017

Android Auto on Chrysler 300 sedan at CES 2017 - Google and FCA

When Google tweaked its Android open source platform to make it usable for connected cars, everyone thought Android Auto was a nice concept, just not practical enough. But at least one car maker is convinced that it will add value to their own connected automobile efforts – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Google and FCA will jointly unveil a new Chrysler 300 sedan fitted with Android. But it doesn’t work alone. The Android HMI will seamlessly integrate with UConnect, which FCA currently uses in its cars, bringing all the great Android apps from Google into the equation. Users will now be able to use Google Search, Google Maps and even Spotify and Pandora. The best part is, they’ll also get access to Google Assistant, the AI-based voice bot found on Google Pixel smartphones and the Google Home smart speaker.

Android Auto is not the same as the Android you’ll find on your typical smartphone. It is customized for the automobile experience, bringing the Android look and feel to the vehicle’s touchscreen interface. In fact, it’s not even an operating system, but merely a secondary layer that sits atop the core operating system that runs UConnect Access. That’s the QNX Neutrino RTOS (realtime operating system) which, incidentally, was set up by Chrysler and Harman, now owned by Samsung Electronics.

So, essentially, Android will be taking a back seat to the QNX operating system, so to speak. That’s how keenly Google wants to get into the automobile space with Android which, as an OS, practically dominates the smartphone and tablet market.

Android Auto, on the other hand, is geared towards allowing automakers the freedom to customize their own platforms and integrate it with the vast bank of applications that Android can bring to the table.

Either way, it’s a win-win situation, with Google getting a foothold in connected automobiles and the carmaker leveraging the full power of Android apps for its customers.

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