The team-up between Google and Fiat Chrysler is about to extend well beyond self-driving minivans. The two companies have revealed an 8.4-inch Uconnect concept system based on Android. No, not Android Auto — we’re talking full-fledged Android Nougat. While it still uses the familiar Uconnect interface (for better or for worse), the Android underpinnings give it « seamless integration » with core Google services like Assistant and Maps. It should play nicely with third-party Android apps, too, including NPR One, Pocket Casts and Spotify.
The system will be on display at CES in a Chrysler 300, but the two companies haven’t said how likely it is that you’ll see this translate from an experiment to full-fledged production. Having said this, it won’t be at all shocking if they move forward. Fiat Chrysler has been keeping up with the Joneses through support for tech like Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, but it’s not at the cutting edge compared to the likes of Ford or Tesla. Android gives it a solid framework that, by its nature, is designed for the internet and smartphone tie-ins. And it’s not hard to see what Google gains: basing an infotainment stack around Android not only improves Google’s stake in the automotive world, but reduces the chances that car makers will use platforms that support CarPlay and other competing technologies.