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There's a large disconnect between smartphone apps and vehicle software

There's a growing debate surrounding whether automakers should still offer embedded infotainment systems, or if mobile apps and smartphones should take the helm.

Infotainment systems, which are offered by many different auto companies, are typically embedded in the dashboard and offer navigation, entertainment and phone services via a touchscreen. 

While auto navigation systems offer beautiful graphics and larger screens, they have their faults. For starters, they're very pricey. These systems run anywhere from $500 to $2,000.

In addition, a lot of these systems run on pre-made DVDs instead of the Internet. This means that they don't run real-time updates, and to have this software updated means a time-consuming trip to the dealership.

Mobile apps found on smartphones, on the other hand, are cheap (and sometimes even free) and offer the same services as these infotainment systems. What's more is that they're constantly being updated so the driver has the most relevant information while on the road. 

The problem is obvious. Automakers can't keep their infotainment systems updated fast enough, and on top of that, many drivers are complaining that the systems don't always work properly -- hence, another trip to the dealership. Mobile apps, on the other hand, receive fixes from developers and are sent directly to the smartphone users' device. 

This information begs the question: should automakers keep offering their own infotainment systems, or just let drivers use their smartphone apps on the dashboard display?

Automakers will tell you that the infotainment software from their respective companies is deeply integrated into the very functions of the vehicle. Where smartphone apps are designed to apply to many vehicles and events, automakers create their software as a specific partner to that particular vehicle. 

Also, if a driver forgets their phone, they always have the infotainment software available right in their vehicle.

Ford said it will allow developers to create apps that work with the MyFord Touch infotainment system, but won't hand over full control of the system to developers -- and it doesn't see smartphones to be a full replacement. 

Others outside of the auto industry will say that automakers should stick to making cars while companies like Apple and Google should take care of the navigation, entertainment and communications.  

There's a disconnect between the software in cars and the software on smartphones, and automakers will have to attempt to bridge this gap if they want their systems to be successful -- or hand the keys to the tech companies.

Source: The Detroit News

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What if there is no cell service?
By othercents on 7/18/2013 11:19:38 AM , Rating: 2
While having to update my GPS is an added distraction that I don't do with my smartphone, I do find that sometimes I just don't have cellular service everywhere I drive. Then you have data caps that come into play too.

I also notice that my Garmin works much better than my smartphone for directions and I don't have to pull my phone phone out when I get into the car and I can still use my phone without interrupting my GPS.


RE: What if there is no cell service?
By spamreader1 on 7/18/2013 11:30:49 AM , Rating: 3
I pre-load maps of areas before I travel. turn by turn get's a little screwy though when connectivity drops. IMO the GPS systems in cars really just to have the ability to update wirelessly and by the owner in some fassion, but it MUST have some serious security planned out to prevent GPS updates from somehow mucking up other computer managed auto components (injectors, abs, etc.)

RE: What if there is no cell service?
By othercents on 7/18/2013 11:38:54 AM , Rating: 2
GPS updates via bluetooth phone?? You already connect your phone to the car, so why not get the latest software updates through the phone, or an app in the phone?

RE: What if there is no cell service?
By Master Kenobi on 7/18/2013 2:38:04 PM , Rating: 2
My Acura has a standard 3.5" DVD drive mounted in the trunk that I just swap the DVD out to update the GPS/Software system in the car. No need to bother the dealer, just order the disk and away I go.

RE: What if there is no cell service?
By BRB29 on 7/18/2013 2:49:39 PM , Rating: 2
Lol I remember the trunk drives. I'm more than glad my dvd/cd 6 disc changer is in my dash. I remember stopping on the highway just to change the CDs...unless you got friends sitting in the back seat.

But seriously, having to update via trunk DVD drives are annoying. Even the simple usb memory stick or SD card is a much better option. Updates roll out every week these days, why would you want to burn a DVD every week.

I'm sure they can make an app so you can update your vehicle nav system via bluetooth or wifi from your phone.

By Griffinhart on 7/18/2013 4:51:52 PM , Rating: 2
MyFord Touch system updates the core system via USB stick, and Ford will ship me, free of charge, any updates to the GPS system on an SD card that is simply inserted and you are done.

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