At a special event at Fiat Chrysler’s Auburn Hills, MI, headquarters, assembled media got a first look at the next generation of FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system.
AutoGuide.com was on hand to get the details of the new, fifth-generation system. We’re already fans of the existing Uconnect thanks to its ease of use, and the latest iteration looks to build on that strength. It will remain a touchscreen affair.
FCA head of design Ralph Gilles kicked off the presentation by talking expansion. Not with Uconnect 5 itself, but the dedicated team behind it. The crew now numbers “around 30” according to Gilles, and counts people with video game development backgrounds amongst its ranks.
Uconnect 5 runs off the Android automotive platform. One of the chief benefits of that foundation is the ability to have over-the-air firmware updates. The bald figures are important too: FCA states Uconnect 5 will be six times more powerful than existing systems, thanks to 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of flash storage. Screen sizes will be as large as 12.3 inches, with up to 15 million pixels promising clean, crisp images. FCA also added that the system can use up to four screens, and that it’s been designed to work with portrait, landscape, or square layouts. This will allow all the brands under the family umbrella to produce their own distinct spin on the system. Further to that, each brand will get unique icons and layouts.
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With the Android base, it should come as no shock Uconnect 5 will support Android phones too. What might surprise is that it will also support Apple CarPlay and Alexa, with all three available wirelessly. What’s more, you’ll be able to connect two devices simultaneously, and they don’t need to be the same platform. With two smart phones connected, users simply have to swipe between them on-screen.
There’s also the ability to create unique user profiles, with up to five plus a valet. These profiles will store preferences for climate control, seating position, radio presets and instrument settings.
What users interact with has naturally come in for a facelift too. The general look is similar to the existing Uconnect. The design team has cleaned up the presentation, going so far as designing a new font specifically for use here. The added resolution allows for sharper images as well. Shortcuts continue to occupy the top bar of the screen, and users will be able to customize that for quick access to common sub-menus. The climate and seat controls always remain up top, making them accessible on any page. In the center are new home pages, where users can drop their favorite widgets and build up a custom layout. TomTom handles navigation duties, including real-time updates.
Just as important as what is included is what is possible in the future. Team members on-site stated Uconnect 5 will be 5G-compatible, though whether this will be OTA-updatable or not wasn’t clear. Similarly, the system can also allow for smartphone-as-key applications. Support for EVs is part of Uconnect 5 as well, with on-the-fly range mapping.
Uconnect 5 will start rolling out later this year.