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    Cadillac User Experience (CUE)


    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    December 12, 2012

    The introduction of the new Cadillac XTS at last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show marked the beginning of a new era. The XTS would be one the first Cadillac models to use their new CUE (short for Cadillac User Experience) infotainment system. Since then, CUE has made its way into new ATS and refreshed SRX. I sampled CUE in the 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD reviewed yesterday.

    CUE is made up of four key components: a large eight-inch capacitive touch screen with haptic feedback. This means when you press the screen, you’ll feel a pulse as if you had pressed a button. The screen also features a proximity sensor which allows the system to bring up controls when a hand is waved or fades the controls, giving a less distracting screen. Next is the capacitive touch buttons which sit underneath the screen and feature haptic feedback as well. Third is the voice recognition system which can control certain functions of the system. Finally, there is a reconfigurable LCD instrument panel that a driver can customize to their liking. This is only available on the SRX and XTS. The ATS makes due with a regular analog instrument panel and 5.7-inch color display providing trip computer, navigation, and audio information.

    gallery_10485_520_1175669.png

    Reviews of CUE have been pretty mixed. Most say they like the layout and design of the system, the voice recognition, and the haptic feedback when you press one of the buttons or the touchscreen. On the other side, most don’t like how the system is somewhat sluggish when you’re moving around, the buttons don’t always respond when pressed, and the system is distracting when on the move.

    I had only briefly played with CUE at the press introduction of the new ATS back in January and found it to be very interesting and unique. I did wonder how it would work out in the real world as I was leaving the event. I would find out when a Cadillac ATS 3.6L AWD Luxury would arrive to my residence.

    My first day with CUE wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience. The capacitive touch buttons didn’t always respond whenever I pressed them, the touch screen had lag in certain situations, and trying to move around the system while moving was a bit nightmarish. I almost reached a point of where I wanted to put my fist through the screen and yank its electronic guts out.

    Thankfully, reason entered my head and I took some time out to read the manual and play around with the system. Before I knew, CUE wasn’t as frustrating as before. That’s the biggest takeaway with CUE; you have to spend time learning how to use the system and play around with it before it clicks into your head. If you don’t, you’ll be in a world of hurt.

    gallery_10485_520_607283.png

    Once I got my head wrapped around CUE, there are some bright spots to the system. For example, the large eight-inch touch screen is very bright during the day, provides the right amount of brightness during the night, and is very readable whenever given a quick glance. The haptic feedback provides acknowledgement that yes; you did touch the screen or button.

    One of the big surprises of CUE was the voice command system. No matter what command I threw at whether it was to change a station, provide an address, or a dial a phone number, the system was able to process and perform it with no problems. Not many systems that I have tried can boast as a high of a success rate as CUE.

    However for all of its good points, CUE has some huge downsides; the biggest one being how distracting the system is on the move. When you’re stationary, you can perform any function of CUE very easily since your attention focused on the screen and controls. However on the move, trying to find which button you need to press turn the temperature up or where you are on the map or a number of other things means your eyes are off the road. This isn’t helped by the capacitive touch buttons not always responding to your press, meaning you have to hit it again.

    gallery_10485_520_467412.png

    Cadillac does deserve some credit for at least trying to reduce distractions while using CUE. For starters, the eight-inch touchscreen features a proximity sensor that brings up the on-screen controls when a hand is waved across If the sensor doesn’t detect any motion, it will fade the on-screen controls. The system also locks out certain functions while the vehicle is in motion. The voice command system is able to perform many of the commands. Finally, there is the 5.7-inch color display that gives you a readout on certain items. Still it doesn’t fully cure all of CUE’s distraction ills. There are certain things that still to need to be performed on the screen or the buttons which takes your eyes off the road.

    Aside from this, CUE is also in its first generation. That means the system has a lot of bugs. During my time, I found the system to be somewhat sluggish when moving around from screen to screen. Plus, the buttons don’t always respond when pressed. Hopefully this can be fixed with some software updates.

    CUE is an interesting idea of what an infotainment system can be. In the real world though, the results are mixed. The system has some very good ideas and impressive features. Those are overshadowed by the problems of CUE being a first-gen product, distractions, and amount of time you have to spend with it. Over time, these problems will work themselves out. But it will hurt Cadillac in the short run.

    So the question comes to this, should you buy into CUE now or wait? If you’re willing to learn how to use the system and put up with its shortcomings, then yes. Otherwise wait. There will be changes and updates coming.

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Great review, I am interested in knowing how fast GM will provide software updates to their CUE system and other versions used by the sister divisions. How big is their software development and testing group? Will updates be provided for download from the customer site, provided on a usb flash drive, OnStar update enabled like a computer or only dealer available?

    Also features really need to be locked out? Compared to Euro and Asian systems, there seems to be two schools of thought. One is lock out 75% of the features when the auto is in motion and the other is have everything available. As a heavy GM owner I have gotten used to what I can and cannot do on the nav systems but have to admit, I wish I could easily do things while driving rather than having to pull over and stop and then get access.

    GM is trying to be good about safety, but I disagree with them locking out so many features/functions that you need to respond to at times.

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    I believe all of GM's systems run on an Android back end, so there is a solid base under all the Cadillac fluff. It seems like a solid first effort. Additionally, in spite of the initial hiccups, it does seem to be better thought of than iDrive. I doubt CUE will hurt Cadillac more than iDrive did with BMW. CUE as a system is more intuitive and people are more familiar with how smart phone screens work.

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    I haven't used CUE yet, but read mostly bad reviews. I don't like not having old fashion buttons for radio controls, because I am more likely to adjust the radio than climate. Other cars do it too, but Cadillac has all sorts of climate control buttons, when it is an automatic system, you shouldn't have adjust it.

    A second problem I see is they want this to work like a tablet, but the iPad is the best tablet. It isn't going to work better than iPad, GM should have just paid Apple to design the system.

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    No, because then Apple would have wanted their branding all over the place. They are just that smug.

    I just spent 3 days in a Chrysler 300c rental again, the Uconnect isn't as comprehensive as CUE is, but everything works and works well. I can even activate the heated seats via the screen with my gloves on.

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    Ah, I love certain functions being locked-out. Because we all know the driver NEVER has a passenger to assist with certain things.

    By the way, how'd you like the CD player in your ATS?

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    CUE runs Linux but not Android. The latency quirks sound awful. From what I've read, the CPU is ARM11, which is quite old by today's standards. If I were GM, I'd be on the phone with Texas Instruments for some OMAP4's that could brute-force through the unoptimized coding until the second software revision.

    They should look at RIM's QnX as an example of efficient, in-car computing.

    A second problem I see is they want this to work like a tablet, but the iPad is the best tablet. It isn't going to work better than iPad, GM should have just paid Apple to design the system.

    Apple would make GM use their map software too, and GM really doesn't need people driving off cliffs.

    Edited by FAPTurbo
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    Apple is soooo over rated. GM does not need their garbage.

    GM just needs to put in a proper CPU to run the Bloated Linux code.

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    ...and a CD player. Proper CPU and CD player, check.

    ASgreed, the CD player should be at either the top or bottom of the nav system and use the already included ripping software from the Linux system to rip the music onto a 40 or 80GB flash drive to allow a person to have a large database of awesome music.

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    GM just needs to put in a proper CPU to run the Bloated Linux code.

    After some poking around, it appears the Linux kernal here is monolithic. Any crash or bug in one instance can cause the whole operating system to lag or crash entirely.

    I think GM should have definitely pursued a microkernal setup, where the drivers and filesystems operate on the 'outside,' meaning if one program crashes, the rest of the system operates fluidly while the program restarts.

    Some of the bugs could be related to just one or two instances that are causing the rest of the system to drag or hang.

    This approach would allow GM to continue using an older ARM chip but still having it function similarly to a modern tablet. Of course, Texas Instruments' OMAP's would offer the best of both worlds, with efficiency that has very little power draw on standby, whilst providing acceptable cpu/gpu performance for this system's modest needs.

    ...and a CD player. Proper CPU and CD player, check.

    ASgreed, the CD player should be at either the top or bottom of the nav system and use the already included ripping software from the Linux system to rip the music onto a 40 or 80GB flash drive to allow a person to have a large database of awesome music.

    It'd be very easy to implement a process where a CD is automatically ripped in FLAC format as it plays. GM is wise to use an open source system in a way, as these features could be implemented freely or with minimal licensing fees.

    Flash storage is still a little expensive but you might be on to something. Ultimately, the system would incur few writes over its life, save for a few dozen CD's, and the durability is far greater than a standard disk drive that many of these systems likely rely on.

    Edited by FAPTurbo
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    Apple is soooo over rated. GM does not need their garbage.

    GM just needs to put in a proper CPU to run the Bloated Linux code.

    Well Apple is the richest company in the world, so over rated or not they do something right. And I have a Droid phone so I am not just an Apple fanboy, I do own an iMac though. Bottom line is I have read more poor reviews than good form CUE. When you are trying to break the German luxury car strong hold you need to be perfect top to bottom because people already don't trust Cadillac like they do BMW or Mercedes.

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    The problem with including Apple is that their products are closed-source and the ecosystem, limited. As it stands, CUE works with Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Symbian, WebOS... you get the idea.

    Nowadays, iOS doesn't offer anything different in terms of interaction than an Android tablet or a PlayBook. Competing UI's have caught up and have even surpassed Apple's experience.

    CUE's issues appear to be more granular and that's to do with coding. Unless CUE was entirely driven by iOS, Apple wouldn't be too much help if all they worked on was the front-end.

    The one thing worth noting is that CUE runs on a CPU that was used in the iPhone... the original one... I wouldn't be surprised that GM stuck with the CPU for all 3 years of CUE's development because the accountants figured it was 'good enough,' even as the coders and engineers added flourishes, transitions and flashy effects which end up taxing the system more than they initially planned.

    Edited by FAPTurbo
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    Cue should run on an Intel core 2 processor powerful enough to run a good home computer, and the hard drive should be 150 GB minimum. That way 4 years from now the whole software can be updated. The problem with all these car computer/Nav systems is they will get dated quickly. People get a new smart phone every 2 years because they change so much, imagine having one of these car systems for 10+ years how dated it will get.

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    Cue should run on an Intel core 2 processor powerful enough to run a good home computer, and the hard drive should be 150 GB minimum. That way 4 years from now the whole software can be updated. The problem with all these car computer/Nav systems is they will get dated quickly. People get a new smart phone every 2 years because they change so much, imagine having one of these car systems for 10+ years how dated it will get.

    The best thing that could be done due to the power requirements of the intel duo core CPU's is to use the Armstrong CPU, it was developed originally by DIGITAL and through multiple purchases became Intels property and they then took it where it was always planned to be. Low power consumption, high performance and is currently used in many smartphone to tablet applications.

    GM would be wise to move to this CPU and pick up at least a 40 or 80gb flash drive to run their CUE system and allow updates via the USB slot or via a Paid current OnStar subscription. This way they could push out updates every 6 months or at least every 12months and keep the system cutting edge.

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    Cue or not, there should be redundant buttons and knobs on the dash more traditional in style so as not to confuse people so much. I have seen pictures of the non CUE interior of an ATS and I think it's laid out nicely.

    I like all the CUE's features and stuff but I played with one in the showroom at a Caddy dealer and the haptic feedback was so cheesy i could barely stand it. Maybe you get used to it. I also think stuff like this needs a glass screen. I'd almost rather have an ipad mini for a dash touch screen.

    http://www.morries.com/detail-2013-cadillac-ats-4dr_sdn_2_5l_rwd-new-9571846.html

    black base ATS with tan interior and standard radio

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    Cue should run on an Intel core 2 processor powerful enough to run a good home computer, and the hard drive should be 150 GB minimum. That way 4 years from now the whole software can be updated. The problem with all these car computer/Nav systems is they will get dated quickly. People get a new smart phone every 2 years because they change so much, imagine having one of these car systems for 10+ years how dated it will get.

    The Cue system can be updated at anytime that there is software updates whether it be 2 years or 6 years. Thats the beauty of the infotainment system!!

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    Cue should run on an Intel core 2 processor powerful enough to run a good home computer, and the hard drive should be 150 GB minimum. That way 4 years from now the whole software can be updated. The problem with all these car computer/Nav systems is they will get dated quickly. People get a new smart phone every 2 years because they change so much, imagine having one of these car systems for 10+ years how dated it will get.

    The Cue system can be updated at anytime that there is software updates whether it be 2 years or 6 years. Thats the beauty of the infotainment system!!

    That's all well and good, but the internal hardware becomes more stressed with each update. You can install iOS 6 onto an iPad 2 but it makes everything slow and horrible to use.

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