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Google and FCA put Android in the dash of a Chrysler 300

The next step beyond Android Auto might mean your next car has a chewy, Nougat center.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Recently, Google delivered on a big promise made at its 2016 I/O developer conference, releasing a version of Android Auto that would run directly on a phone, removing the need for a new car or costly aftermarket head unit to access the service. Later this week, at CES in Last Vegas, the company will demonstrate another aspect of its automotive aspirations announced at I/O: Android running right in the car.

Google and FCA have partnered to create a concept Chrysler 300 that runs Android 7.0, a.k.a. Nougat. The open-source OS will be powering a version of FCA's 8.4-inch Uconnect system, sitting behind the scenes and still offering the "unique and intuitive" interface that allows Chrysler to differentiate its infotainment offerings.

This is an important detail. The rising popularity of systems like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which look the same regardless of where they run, has threatened auto manufacturers' control of the dashboards of their own cars. The ability to customize the interface of an in-dash version of Android could provide the apps and connectivity that owners want while maintaining the distinct look that manufacturers feel they need.

There are plenty of cars running some flavor Android already, but that's typically buried behind the scenes. With this implementation, full-on Android apps will be available from within the dash, including Google offerings like Assistant and Maps, along with popular third-party selections like Spotify and the ubiquitous Pandora.

This is only a concept and only on display at CES over the coming week, so don't head to your local Chrysler dealership asking for Nougat just yet. However, it is a good sign pointing toward more flavorful infotainment systems to come.

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