Android Auto jumps from phone to dash in new Chrysler-Fiat concept

With the launch of a standalone app last fall, Android Auto removed the need to purchase a new car to take advantage of its hands-free navigational tools. Soon, you might not even need a phone.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is showing off a new collaboration with Google at CES that will use Android to power the in-car infotainment system. The technology merges FCA’s Uconnect system with Nougat to create an integrated system that bakes Android’s best features–Google Assistant and Google Maps, along with popular apps like Pandora and Spotify–right into the dash. The system is still in the concept stage, but Fiat Chrysler will be demoing the tech inside a Chrysler 300 sedan at the Las Vegas expo this week.

The company is working closely with Google on the system, which expands beyond the capabilities of Android Auto to include things like radio tuning and climate controls. Google had previously shown off in-car Android Auto integration at its I/O conference last year in a Maserati Quattroporte that used Nougat to power the entire console, including the speedometer and other gauges. However, Fiat-Chrysler looks to be the first automaker to bring the technology to market.

The two companies also announced a partnership last May to turn 100 Pacifica minivans into autonomous vehicles. The results of that collaboration were spotted late last year as Google continues to hone its self-driving system. 

Why this matters: While the press release doesn’t divulge how much of the system will rely on a smartphone, it’s clear that Google’s vision for Android Auto is one where turning on your car is an extension of your smartphone. While the technology is still in development, the day isn’t far off when you’ll be able to make calls, send texts, and get the best route to work even if you’ve forgotten your phone in the house.

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