Many auto makers have been ramping up their in-car entertainment systems to match the proliferation of smartphones and streaming music services over the last several years, and GM's Cadillac division is taking a big step today with the introduction of its new Cue platform at CTIA today. The system revolves around an 8-inch capacitive touchscreen mounted in the center of the dashboard that serves up the usual array of radio, climate, and navigation controls — but it's got a few tricks up its sleeve that we haven't seen on similar systems from other companies. First off, it's a capacitive display that supports swipes, pinches, and other smartphone-like gestures; most in-car touchscreens are resistive, so that's a big change in the experience. Secondly, the Cue console has a proximity sensor that detects your hand from 8 inches away and switches the display from an information-centric view to a control-centric view; in other words, it adds buttons only when your hand is near so that the view remains as clean as simple when you're not trying to control the system. Third, both the display and the capacitive controls below it have haptic feedback that lightly vibrate your finger as you activate commands. And finally, certain models pair the Cue center console with a 12.3-inch LCD that takes the place of a traditional instrument cluster, features real-time navigation and radio information, and can be changed between multiple styles and modes to cater to the driver's whim.
As with competing systems like Ford Sync / MyFord Touch, Cue integrates tightly with your phone. The panel containing physical controls for volume, tuning, temperature, and the like can be opened to reveal a fairly large rubberized compartment with a USB port; just drop your phone in there and either cable up (if you want it to charge) or use Bluetooth to make the connection. Cue can naturally play tracks stored on your phone, but it'll also support third-party services like Pandora.
Cadillac will be rolling out Cue in 2012 on 2013 models of the SRX, ATS, and XTS — a crossover, mid-size sedan, and large sedan, respectively — but in the meantime, you can check out our photos and video of the system in action.