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Print 38 comment(s) - last by Piiman.. on Jul 20 at 10:09 AM

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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RE: Just dock the damn thing.
By BRB29 on 7/18/2013 1:53:19 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Why not just dock a smartphone and just mirror it on a 7" screen in your car? Get a car app or whatever on your phone and dock it. That way you can do firmware updates via your phone. Seems like the simplest and logical solution to this problem.


Actually, what I don't understand is why they can't use an Ipad or any decent tablet as the starting point. Strip out everything they don't need like the camera or polished aluminum shell. Simplify the GUI even more since it's limited in functions and apps.

Seriously, an ipad, android tablet or even the expensive Win8 tablets are far better in performance and has a better screen. They can sell it at a cheaper price and make billions. These car companies are charging you 4x for an inferior "infotainment" system with laggy performance, cheap screens and frustrating UI.

Any infotainment system should not cost more than $1k. The average system should only cost 300-500 in economy cars.


RE: Just dock the damn thing.
By Micronite on 7/18/2013 6:00:00 PM , Rating: 2
Because an iPad or other tablet would take a massive amount of additional engineering to ever meet the automotive requirements on electronics. At that point, you have burned up the cost advantage.

Seriously, the best idea is to have a display that will wirelessly sync with your phone (like Bluetooth, but it would need to be beefier than Bluetooth). Then you don't have to make the phone automotive-standard worthy, just your small display and audio repeater.


RE: Just dock the damn thing.
By Azethoth on 7/19/2013 6:25:30 AM , Rating: 4
I have a kenwood touch panel thing. It is basically an iPad with a row of buttons at the bottom. Here is the big secret though: touch panels suck in a car. By suck I mean rotten donkey balls. They are unsafe as hell. They need constant looking at to home in on the touch area you want. Old style single purpose dials and knobs do not have that issue, you can find them by touch only if you want.


RE: Just dock the damn thing.
By Piiman on 7/20/2013 9:54:44 AM , Rating: 2
Too bad the story is about cars with SCREENS systems just like a tablet and not knobs and dials.


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