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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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

not entirely correct...
By alpha754293 on 7/19/2013 9:27:14 AM , Rating: 2
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed here are solely that of my own and are not representative of Ford Motor Company or its affiliates.

"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."

Mine comes on an SD card. If there's an update to the maps, they can just mail me the new SD card meaning I don't have to stop in at the dealership AT ALL or the next time I get my oil changed (for < $20 BTW) they can swap it out then as well.

It's NOT that bad. Or I just get a loaner for the day, drop it off in the morning, and then I head across the border to "HQ" (I don't actually WORK in the HQ building, or the main campus, but I do work for corporate), swap the cars back after work.

"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."

a) It's only true if you don't bother counting the cost of the phone (now matter HOW you pay for it) and the plan. Like I wrote on the other article, my nav system works out to be $5.83/month for 72-months. Even if I were to half the time, it'd still only $11.66/month (roughly). If you can get a smartphone, either on a 36-month contract (or without) for $11.66/month INCLUDING the voice/data plan - PLEASE lemme know.

And for like traffic updates and stuff, I get my updates through SiriusXM Travel Link.

b) That might also ONLY be true in the US. In Canada, it's different. The rules governing mobile telecommunications are different than that of the US. So unless people here have a "North Korean" attitude/mindset (i.e. "We are the best country in the world because we are the ONLY country in the world" (despite there being absolutely NO evidence to support that claim, but to the North Korean indoctrination, they don't care)); the lack of universality means that it is not necessarily a good solution that can be applied worldwide. And since ALL car companies are global nowadays, no matter which car you look at, what you develop for one region needs to be applicable, work, be functional, and meets the regulations of ANY OTHER region (that the vehicle may be sold in). Or else you end up with a medicine cabinet full of little localized bandaids.




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