In a move that mirrors other segments of GM’s lineup, Cadillac will offer enhanced infotainment options and connectivity through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto starting in the 2016 model year. The new integration is part of a broader revitalization of the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) system, and promises new features and more streamlined operation. 

Apple CarPlay will first appear for the 2016 model year, slated to begin this summer, with support from the 8-inch CUE multi-touch screen. This excludes the SRX crossover, which will receive a new generation early next year. Meanwhile, Android Auto is expected to see support “at a later date.”

Access to the new systems will be provided via a “Projection” icon on the CUE screen. Selecting this icon will enable basic smartphone functions through the car’s infotainment system.

Apple CarPlay provides features like making and receiving calls, sending and receiving text messages, listening to music, talking to Siri, access to navigation, and use of a variety of third-party apps (see a full list here). Meanwhile, Android Auto will offer Google Maps, Google Now, Google search, Google Play Music, and several third-party apps (like WhatsApp, Skype, Spotify and podcast players. Check out the full list on g.co/androidauto).
Phones connect via USB to integrate with the infotainment system. Apple CarPlay requires iOS 7.1 or higher (or an iPhone 5 or later), while Android Auto requires the Android Lollipop operating system.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

GM also recently announced its intentions to offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in 14 different Chevy models starting with the 2016 model year. Support will come from the 7-inch and 8-inch MyLink screens. Like Caddy, the Chevy models will first offer Apple CarPlay and follow up with Android Auto at a later date, with features controllable via both voice commands and through buttons mounted on the steering wheel. 

“For most of us, our smartphones are essential,” said Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, in a previous press release. “Partnering with Apple and Google to offer CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility across the widest range of models in the industry is a great example of how Chevrolet continues to democratize technology that’s important to our customers.”

While the new features and hardware will undoubtedly enhance the user experience, I can’t help but see a bit of redundancy overall.

For Cadillac, wireless charging and OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi services, both of which were added for the 2015 model year, will be retained.

The CUE system will also be enhanced with a faster processor for quicker start-ups, voice recognition, navigation searches, and media playing. The nav system’s control structure has also been simplified for easier use. Furthermore, the Escalade, CTS, and XTS will see the addition of Surround Vision, which offers a 360-degree view around the vehicle for easier parking and close-quarters navigation. 

While the new features and hardware will undoubtedly enhance the user experience, I can’t help but see a bit of redundancy overall. For example, the CUE navigation system may have been redesigned (again), but it’s far more likely drivers will use their more familiar and easier-to-use smartphone interfaces. Unfortunately for Cadillac, the standalone CUE system just can’t compete.

To understand why, we have to look back at the sordid origins of CUE. Back in the 2013 and 2014 model years, reviewers heaped praise onto just about every aspect of Caddy’s new European-rivaling luxury vehicles, with one glaring exception – the infotainment system. When CUE was first introduced, folks were less than impressed. While ambitious, the system was extremely complex, confusing many with overly dense navigation for the most basic of functions. Support was minimal. The lack of physical controls meant users would have to take their eyes off the road while operating the touch screen, with icons often placed in seemingly random, haphazard locations. The system was not just frustrating, but a danger on the road, requiring far more attention than could be deemed safe. 

To its credit, Cadillac was quick to update and improve the system. However, compared to the layouts found in Apple and Android products, CUE isn’t even in the same ballpark. After all, these tech companies have always designed device user interface systems, while in-car touchscreens are relatively new.

Integrating the product design of Apple and Android is a safe, smart move for Cadillac. Its just too bad it didn’t happen sooner.

2016 Cadillac CTS-V

2016 Cadillac CTS-V High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review here.

Press Release

Cadillac’s 2016 model year products will feature enhanced connectivity and control, including the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the predominant new systems for in-car phone integration. These additions are part of a broader enhancement of CUE, Cadillac’s user experience, with new features and a faster, streamlined operation.

Apple CarPlay will debut in 2016 Cadillac models featuring CUE’s 8-in multi-touch screen except the SRX Crossover, a model that will move to an all-new generation in early 2016. Android Auto is expected to be phased into 2016 production at a later date. The 2016 model year will begin this summer.

“Cadillac’s product transformation includes continuing upgrades to connectivity and in-car technology,” says David Leone, Executive Chief Engineer. “In 2015 Cadillac became the first luxury brand to feature broad use of wireless charging and 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity, and now in 2016 we’re moving quickly to enhance phone integration and overall system performance.”

Phone Integration

Cadillac CUE provides owners a smart and simple way to access both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A “Projection” icon will appear on the CUE screen, to enable simpler, easier access to key smartphone functions, including navigation, contacts, hands-free text messaging and select applications supported by Apple or Google.

Apple CarPlay takes the iPhone features you’d want to access while driving and puts them on the vehicle’s display in a smart, simple manner. This allows drivers to make calls, send and receive messages and listen to music right from the touchscreen or by voice via Siri. Apple CarPlay supported apps include Phone, Messages, Maps, Music and compatible third party apps. A full list of those apps can be found at Apple.com/ios/carplay.

Android Auto is built around Google Maps, Google Now and the ability to talk to Google, as well as a growing audio and messaging app ecosystem that includes WhatsApp, Skype, Google Play Music, Spotify, and podcast players. A full list of supported apps is available at g.co/androidauto.

Many features can be controlled via voice commands through a steering wheel button, helping drivers spend more time with eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. In addition, Cadillac added wireless charging and OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi service in the 2015 model year.

Both phone integration systems require the phone to be connected via USB. Apple CarPlay requires iOS 7.1 or higher or an iPhone 5 or later or higher, Android Auto requires Android Lollipop operating system.

CUE Enhancements

A more powerful processor will be added to CUE for all 2016 models, enabling faster system start-up, voice recognition, navigation searches, and media playing.

For the navigation system, the control structure has been simplified for easier destination entry and quicker destination searches. Map screens have been redesigned for easier use, including one-touch control of commonly used features like “muting” voiced navigation instructions and route cancellation.

For the Escalade, CTS and XTS product lines, the Cadillac CUE screen will add Surround Vision, a 360-degree view of the vehicle’s perimeter. Driving mode information will be expanded to the screen as well.

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