Google will work on integrating its collection of Android connectivity applications with Fiat Chrysler’s in-car entertainment system under a collaborative agreement between the two companies announced this week.
The goal is to give owners of FCA vehicles a way to interact more easily with Android applications using the Uconnect 8.4 inch hands-free communication system in their vehicles.
Attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show 2017 will have an opportunity to see what the end result will look like when the two companies demonstrate a Uconnect system with Android inside a Chrysler 300 sedan at the event.
The demonstration will show how users will be able to interact with Android applications like Google Assistant and Maps and those from other application developers such as Pandora and Spotify using the Uconnect interface. Eventually, Google and FCA hope to be able to integrate a wider set of Android applications with Uconnect.
The collaborative agreement with FCA highlights Google’s commitment to making Android a turnkey platform that integrates deeply with in-vehicle information and entertainment systems, Google’s director of Android engineering Patrick Brady said in a statement issued jointly by the two companies. “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,” he said.
The latest agreement builds on an existing partnership between the two companies announced last May.
Under that partnership, Google is working on integrating its autonomous vehicle technology into a fleet of about 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans. The two companies hope to test the modified vehicles sometime this year.
The collaboration with Chrysler is Google’s first with a major automaker since it started work on developing autonomous vehicle technology several years ago.
The partnership announced this week is very different from the self-driving car initiative between FCA and Google. Still it reflects Google’s desire to develop technology for the automotive industry.
Separate from the work it is doing with FCA, Google is also developing Android Auto, a version of its operating system that allows users to stream their smartphone functions directly to their in-vehicle display. The idea is to give car owners a way to use their vehicle displays to interact with Google apps in the same way they would with a smartphone.
In addition to Android Auto, Google is also rumored to be trying to get automakers to use Android as the base operating system for their vehicle infotainment systems. The goal is to have vehicle navigation, entertainment and connectivity systems all be powered by Android.
Chris Barman, head of electrical engineering at FCA this week described the new partnership between the two companies as offering an opportunity to explore the benefits of integrating in-vehicle infotainment systems with connectivity applications such as those from Google.
“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,” he said.