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Google teams up with Fiat to make Android as prevalent in cars as it is on mobile

Alphabet-owned Google has teamed up with Fiat Chrysler to create an in-car infotainment system with apps based on the U.S. search giant's Android operating system (OS).

The 8.4 inch connected vehicle system called Uconnect will be featured in the Chrysler 300 sedan during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas this week.

Android on mobile allows device makers to customize the look and feel of the OS. Google wants to allow carmakers to do the same with their own in-car system. Android is the world's dominant mobile operating system and Google is hoping it could become as strong in the auto industry.

"Google is committed to building Android as a turn-key automotive platform that integrates deeply with the vehicle in a safe and seamless way," Patrick Brady, director of Android engineering at Google, said in a press release on Monday.

Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Uconnect system will allow popular Google apps such as Maps or the voice assistant as well as other popular ones like Spotify, to be integrated with the car. This product differs from Android Auto which is also produced by Google. Android Auto is an in-car software that brings the functionality of a smartphone to the screen in the vehicle. It's not an operating system however. Instead, it's a user interface that sits on top of an OS.

Google's latest venture with Fiat is a full-blown OS that powers the in-car experience and will allow the U.S. technology giant to embed itself deeper in the dashboard.

"This collaboration with Google has been an extremely beneficial opportunity for both companies to explore how in-vehicle infotainment and connectivity technology continues to evolve, and what it takes to meet consumers' increasing desire for innovation of information with minimal distraction," Chris Barman, head of electrical engineering at Fiat Chrysler, said in a press release.

"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."

It's an important step for Google as technology companies battle for a leading position in the auto market. Technology giants see the car as the next big mobile platform and many carmakers are willing to work with these firms to boost the connectivity of their vehicles.

Google and Fiat have been working together for the past few months. The two companies collaborated to create the Chrysler Pacifica minivan – a hybrid vehicle that's part of Google's autonomous car test fleet.