Cadillac’s All-New Infotainment System has No Name

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Cadillac’s All-New Infotainment System has No Name

Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system was widely considered to be a dud, something the company is painfully aware of.

“That was not our finest moment,” admitted Brian Ullem, global product head of infotainment at General Motors.

But the luxury automaker’s latest salvo of in-vehicle technology is poised to right these wrongs. “We’re getting away from the name CUE and trying to refocus on the meaning of the system and the experience that it delivers to the customer,” explained Ullem while demonstrating Cadillac’s latest infotainment technology in an interview with AutoGuide.com.

Curiously, unlike practically every rival system on the market today, this one will remain unbranded. “We’re not going to invest in names behind an infotainment system. It’ll become part of the vehicle experience,” said Ullem.

CUE is on the way out, slowly being replaced by the brand’s fresh-faced and un-christened offering, which just launched in the Cadillac CTS. It’s coming to the ATS and XTS sedans later in the year while the brand’s CT6 flagship is slated to receive it in 2018.

Friendly and Familiar

Compared to CUE’s confusing interface, this offering is a breath of fresh air. It provides a few notable features but what sets it apart is its familiarity. “It’s much more like a consumer electronics user interface,” noted Ullem. You can hold down and drag icons around to configure them how you want, swipe between menus and use pinch-to-zoom gestures on the navigation map, all motions that are familiar to smartphone owners.

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It also offers something called Summary View, a separate screen that’s somewhat akin to Google Assistant, the internet giant’s digital concierge. For instance, it can show how long it will take to drive home from the office, provide up-to-date weather information and offer quick-access audio controls, all on one easy-to-access screen.

For maximum versatility, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also supported. More and more vehicles feature this hand-in-glove smartphone integration, but Ullem said there is still a place for embedded infotainment systems. “There are limits to what the phone integration can do. It doesn’t have the same access to vehicle data that we do.”

Standout Features

Aside from all this, Cadillac’s new infotainment system brings a handful of unique features to market. One headline item is the option of having separate user profiles. Stored in the cloud, these keep track of things like home and work locations, radio presets, navigation preferences and audio settings, with the ability to, for instance, pick up right where you left off in an audiobook. This is great for spouses that share a car or folks that frequently switch vehicles.

ALSO SEE: 2018 Cadillac CT6 Promises to Deliver ‘True Hands-Free Driving’

Like other GM vehicles, Cadillacs can be had with 4G LTE connectivity; this is hardly earth-shattering, nor is in-vehicle wireless internet. “But what is relatively new,” said Ullem, “Is this $20 unlimited [data] plan,” which in a way ties everything together, giving you effortless access to updated maps and real-time fuel prices. You can also stream music or keep your kids entertained with Netflix, without ever worrying about an overage charge.

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Data is purchased through OnStar as a mobile hotspot plan. For better or worse, depending on your location, AT&T provides the connectivity.

Updatability is another area that could set Cadillac’s latest infotainment system apart from the pack. Its goal is to provide frequent software enhancements, even on a quarterly basis, not annually like they’ve been doing. Ullem noted, “I think we’ve got a roadmap… that’s fairly aggressive to be able to touch not only all of the capabilities in the radio but other parts of the vehicle as well to leverage that data pipe.”

Nuts and Bolts

Cleanly breaking with the past Ullem said, “It’s a completely different platform on a completely different operating system on a completely different combination of hardware.” Backward compatibility with CUE is, not surprisingly, unavailable. Google’s worryingly ubiquitous Android operating system serves as the foundation for this technology, providing numerous benefits.

And arguably the most important is how easy it should be to create apps that run on the system. Catering to folks that code for a living, Cadillac has released a software development kit that provides access to some 400 vehicle elements. This will allow developers to do some neat things in the future.

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Unlike consumer-electronics companies, Cadillac is not hyping feeds and speeds. “There’s certain automotive OEMs that talk about having a dual- or quad-core, octa-core processor, we don’t talk about the horsepower inside the vehicle,” said Ullem. He acknowledged that their technology must be fast, provide low latency and be upgradable, but processing power is not something they’re going to trumpet.

Keeping it reasonably future proof, Cadillac’s next-generation infotainment system should be no slouch. Ullem added, “This is a beefy set of hardware to be able to accommodate all of those functions.”

CUE in the Rear-VUE

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With its new unnamed infotainment system, GM’s luxury division is rapidly putting CUE in the rear-VUE. After an admittedly short time with it, this fresh technology seems to respond readily to inputs, exhibiting no obvious lag. The interface is elegant and obvious, which is a breath of fresh air in the automotive space where sloppy and slow are all too common. Look for this updated experience to spread across the Cadillac range soon.

Discuss this story on our Cadillac Forum

  • Alfonso D

    Will 2017 models be upgraded or are we SOL?

  • Frank Yoster

    Uconnect rules

  • squint9

    ANYTHING that takes the driver’s eyes off the road is, IMHO, a driving distraction (and I hold the same high opinion of everyone else’s “idiot box driving aid” for that matter).

    Bad enough Marketing has never developed the heads-up speed display to any commercially acceptable degree.

    As each generation develops a shorter and shorter attention span, adding these sophisticated electronic toys to multi-ton flying chunks of plastic and steel is obviously lunacy. The fact that the target market has to communicate with little tiny images (aka, emoji) should tell us something about the level of attention they are prepared to devote to piloting said tons of plastic and steel.

    At the very least most of the controls should be locked until the vehicle is in Park. Speaking of Park, this should be the only time that cell and wifi signals should be accessible from inside the vehicle cabin. Death and destruction from morons staring at their devices instead of oncoming traffic are well-known already, AND TOTALLY PREVENTABLE. If they had to pull over to use the phone, they wouldn’t be driving into your kid pulling out of that parking lot, eh!

    The sadder part is the con job being foisted off on the uneducated public in that these centralized electronic extravaganza’s are merely a way to turn $100 repairs into $2,000 repairs. It may, in fact, already be that manufacturer’s make more money repairing their vehicles than selling them.

    If Marketing was really interested in public safety with these gadgets in the vehicles, they would all have speech interfaces — the technology for which has been around since 1985 — to control all functions. Yes. Still distracting but at least you’ll have to look that person in the eye before you hit them while running the light. 🙁

  • squint9

    Here’s a couple suggestions for GM:
    • Disconnect the system from any wifi circuitry once the vehicle is out of Park. Unless you think customers will be impressed with being in danger every second of vehicle operation from unseen, unknown sources with a laptop and an agenda. Some Chrysler Jeep owners learned of this the hard way. Updates should done in Park with the engine off anyhow.
    • Skip all the driver-distracting icons and button pressing, to be replaced by voice controls. Real voice controls. As in, “[Computer], set driver temperature to 74°.” Or, “[Computer], directions to Jilly’s bar in Alameda.” Or the ever popular, “[Computer], eject backseat driver in right rear passenger seat at next red light!.” Real voice controls.
    • Put some controls back in the form of real switches in driver-friendly locations. Do you know how one adjusts their radio in a 1997 Miata? Not by looking at it. One merely has to follow the emergency brake handle to the end where one finds the power / volume switch waiting; along with the channel selection buttons* immediately to the right of that. All can be accessed without looking; even in the dark! One hand off the wheel beats the pants off of all eyes off the road any day of the week.
    _________________________
    * Know where the channel selection buttons are on UConnect? Two or three menu layers deep and essentially impossible to access without totally taking one’s attention off of driving. Dumbest thing I’ve seen in many years.

  • squint9

    LOL – Apparently you don’t use the radio for more than one station. You know, where the channel selection buttons are two or three menu layers deep and essentially impossible to access without totally taking one’s attention off of driving. Dumbest thing I’ve seen in many years.

  • Cory Johnson

    I have a new 2017 CTS-V with the new infotianment mod. By the way it still say Cadillac CUE when getting into the car. Anything CTS built after March will have the new system.

  • KsKKKKKK

    They are getting rid of the name so that it can’t be called out by name as terrrible if it flops again.

  • Max Power

    So use the volume & channel changer on the right hand side of the steering wheel…..or are up/down arrow buttons to complex & confusing for your​ big brain ??

  • Max Power

    And if you have a passenger are they not allowed to make adjustments either ?? Should everyone be forced to sit up straight, eyes forward, & hands folded on their laps with no talking ?
    If you have no ability to multitask while operating a vehicle, then hang up the keys because YOU are the ones that are truly the danger out on the road.

  • Max Power

    Apparently squint, you don’t own a Cadillac or you’d know that once in gear you cant use many of the infotainment & communication features in the CUE system.
    Why you think its any more safe to be navigating off a 3×4 piece of paper with micro printing, rather then a digital screen showing your exact location, highlighting the route to take & verbally telling you where to turn next, is only reaffirming the fact the you & all the others like you, shouldn’t be allowed to be on the road endangering the competent.

  • Boomstick

    A system has no name? Is it sponsored by game of thrones?