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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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I hardly ever use my car's GPS anymore...
By CList on 7/18/2013 1:22:04 PM , Rating: 0
I live in NYC, and traffic here is a bitch. My car GPS doesn't connect to google traffic and for that reason alone I almost exclusively use my phone's google maps instead of my car's GPS.

I couldn't imagine *not* driving with the traffic options turned on - it can mean a difference of up to an hour at times, and around here there are so many alternate routes to get anywhere, but you really need to weigh the extra distance vs time savings, and google maps does that for me automatically.

The other reason is that there's so much work getting done around here, that my 2008 car's GPS is out of date for some interchanges, and there's no way I'm giving the dealership $200 or $300 for a new maps CD - that's just a ridiculous rip off.

Lastly, while we have sirius xm in the car, I find even their "alternative" channels to be rather corporate and repetitive; I'd much prefer listening to to huge selection of web-casted college radio stations.

I'm currently so far away from hitting my data limit each month with my phone, that using it while driving is really not a concern for me at all... it'd certainly be much cheaper than buying a new car with enhanced features that probably wouldn't work nearly as well as those of my phone or iPad.

The biggest problem right now is that the steering-mounted, and other hard-wired / tactile console controls don't interface with the phone... I would love a car that would do something like that via bluetooth or usb...

There's so much crappy, ugly "infotainment" getting built in to cars these days, I seriously resent paying for it when the phone I already can do it so much better.


By Griffinhart on 7/18/2013 4:45:45 PM , Rating: 2
Well, in the defense of these built in systems, your experience is with a system built durring the age of the Razor. When your car was built, it's in dash GPS was better than any phone. Considering Androids and iphones were non-existant when your car was built.

Fast forward to 2013 and most of these systems integrate surprisingly well with smartphones.

My 2012 Ford allows me to control any audio from my phone, lets me read and send text via voice, has free map updates from Ford (Overnighted for free on a SD card), allows me to attach multiple USB devices (Thumbdrives, any smart phone), Blue tooth connections, and other audio sources. I get Traffic updates and rerouting (like I did on my old Garmin). It will even use my phone to look up businesses to navigate too or call. I can get current weather radar on it and even find out what's playing at the local movie theater. It will even let me turn the car into a mobile hotspot via phone or a USB Cell Modem.

All without having to mount anything on my windshield. I don't even have to take my phone out of my pocket.

They still have a lot of room for improvement, but they aren't bad at all.

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