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Why Automakers Should Stop the Infotainment Arms Race 317

Posted by Soulskill
from the driving-under-the-influence-of-angry-birds dept.
New submitter SomewhatRandom writes "Dailytech recently published an article titled 'Detroit Automakers Vie For App Devs Amid Infotainment Arms Race.' Unfortunately for auto manufacturers, they are in a poor position to complete with companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc... and they should give up the arms race and take a different direction. Mobile operating systems and their associated hardware have a rapid release cycle that significantly outpaces vehicle infotainment systems. Additionally, mobile OSs are developed by specialized companies that can spend dump trucks filled with money on their platform. I'm sorry Dodge, Toyota, Honda and all your friends; you simply can't compete."
SomewhatRandom continues,

"The in-house infotainment systems being brought to market by the automotive industry typically try to replicate a limited subset of features provided by a mobile operating system (ex: Android, iOS), while implementing a clunky interface that feels like a blast from the past. Replicating features that already exist in a consumer's device with a clunky interface does not offer any value to the end consumer.

Automakers should stop throwing money at developing a 'doomed to fail' in-house infotainment solution, and start catering to the consumer by developing a system that allows the consumer's mobile device of choice to control in-vehicle assets (speakers, in-dash touchscreen, noise-canceling microphone) directly.

Consumers would prefer to see a standards-based system that allows the interface of their existing mobile OS of choice duplicated or extended on an in-dash touchscreen, while having audio redirected from their device to the vehicle's speakers. Start focusing on technologies like Miracast and Bluetooth and how they can be used to augment a customer's mobile device, rather than replace it. Manufacturers that choose to adopt this focus not only provide better value to the end consumer, but also be able to reduce the size of their development budgets. Win-Win.

What are your thoughts? Am I crazy, or does it seem like the automotive industry has lost sight of what will best serve the consumer?"
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Why Automakers Should Stop the Infotainment Arms Race

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  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <.ten.3dlrow. .ta. .ojom.> on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:18AM (#44174863) Homepage

    Pioneer AppRadio looks ideal - basically mirrors your phone's screen on it's 7" display. You need to do a bit of hacking to unlock the full potential, but the basic idea is brilliant.

    The only real down-side is that the FM radio side sucks. If you mainly listen to playlists on your phone though it isn't a big issue.

    • Re:AppRadio (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@nexusuk.oGAUSSrg minus math_god> on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:32AM (#44174981) Homepage

      Pioneer AppRadio looks ideal - basically mirrors your phone's screen on it's 7" display. You need to do a bit of hacking to unlock the full potential, but the basic idea is brilliant.

      The only real down-side is that the FM radio side sucks. If you mainly listen to playlists on your phone though it isn't a big issue.

      I really don't want to be using a touch-screen interface while driving at all. If I want to change radio station/volume/whatever I want nice tactile buttons that I can feel without taking my eyes off the road, touch screen systems in cars are a disaster.

      • Re:AppRadio (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:41AM (#44175041)

        Pioneer AppRadio looks ideal - basically mirrors your phone's screen on it's 7" display. You need to do a bit of hacking to unlock the full potential, but the basic idea is brilliant.

        The only real down-side is that the FM radio side sucks. If you mainly listen to playlists on your phone though it isn't a big issue.

        I really don't want to be using a touch-screen interface while driving at all. If I want to change radio station/volume/whatever I want nice tactile buttons that I can feel without taking my eyes off the road, touch screen systems in cars are a disaster.

        I agree. My car has some simple radio controls duplicated on a stalk, up-down channel, volume and mute. I can use these without looking, which is great,

      • Re:AppRadio (Score:5, Funny)

        by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:49AM (#44175093)
        This. Whenever I go to buy my next car with something like this, I'm going to cover the salespersons eyes and say 'ok now change the station to preset #5' and laugh.

        Touchscreens have absolutely no place in cars with relatively untrained people driving. I'd love to see the studies and training for airline/fighter pilots on using the touchscreens vs having tactile controls you can just feel and learn to use without sight.

        As a counter argument perhaps you don't want a fighter pilot firing a missile without actually looking at the control to do so ;-)~ So touchscreens in cars are ok for the roof mounted missile launcher!
        • Re:AppRadio (Score:5, Informative)

          by Lemmeoutada Collecti (588075) <obereon@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @09:01AM (#44175211) Homepage Journal

          From a professional driving standpoint, there is a reason that the radios, CBs, atc. with tactile buttons sell much better than any touch screen. In aircraft, at least in all of the ones I have been in so far, the LCD is bracketed by a set of hard buttons. I have yet to see any interface that is FAA approved that does not have all critical functions on tactile buttons. That is not to say that there are none, but most pilots I know prefer the buttons.

          As for the missile, missile engagement requires operation of anywhere from 2 to 8 individual controls to arm and fire. I think it should stay that way.

        • I use a dash-mounted iphone with a touchscreen interface for nav and music in the car, but I have it set up so that I can use tactile feedback for hitting the spots I need while driving. The traffic map and music apps are set up in corners of the screen, so I just need to hit a corner to get to them.

          I also just started shopping for cars and was having thoughts similar to the submitter-- why would I want to pay $$ for a built in, dedicated system from the car maker that's already behind what I can do on a p

      • Re:AppRadio (Score:5, Insightful)

        by businessnerd (1009815) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @10:22AM (#44176215)
        I will agree on this one, and I speak from experience. I travel a lot for work, and as such, rent a lot of cars. Every week I get to fumble around with whatever asinine "state of the art" infotainment system each manufacturer has come up with. Lately I have seen Toyata, Ford and GM's take on this. I have seen none that are better than just plain old buttons. Even just forgetting the fact that there is no tactile feedback for a second, the actual UI of the system is not conducive to operating with quick glances. The make it such a "rich" interface that I can't easily tell what is info and what is an actionable button. Then add in the fact that once you find a button and tap it, the whole screen changes and you have a whole new set of information and buttons to try to process (and god forbid the buttons stay in the same place or follow and common pattern from screen to screen). With the old classic buttons, I could generally hop in the car for the first time, take a quick look over the dash to figure out where volume and seek are and how to adjust the A/C, get those all set once, and then from then on, adjusting on-the-fly was easy, since I had already figured out everything that needed to be figured out. Not possible with these touch screens and I often catch myself fiddling while driving (which I really try to avoid, but these tend to lure me in much more easily).

        Ford decided to take the idiocy to a new level, though. And I guess this makes sense given their relationship with Microsoft. So Ford was probably hearing all of these complaints about no tactile feedback and needing buttons and they say, "you know what, you're right, and boy do we have the solution for you!" They decided to put buttons in, but instead of regular old buttons (cause those are for losers!) they use touch sensitive buttons built into a textured panel. They function similar to those buttons that are not really buttons that some laptop and TV manufacturers started using a couple years ago (which I HATE) and the main Android buttons on many smartphones.So it looks like your old buttons, with each function having a dedicated location and being raised up from the dash with painted on labels/logos, but a little slicker since there are no gaps/seems around the buttons since nothing needs to be pressed in. At first glance, you think, neat, Ford gets it. Then you try to use it like your old school button interface, and that's where it all breaks down. You feel for the radio station seek buttons. There is a + and a -. You what to seek up, but your fingers find the down first .Ok, just gotta move over one and I got it, you think as you blindly feel around. But it's too late! you have already touch + and the radio station has switched in the wrong direction. You try to correct, but this time, when you again try to reach without taking your eyes off the road, you brush against the thermostat, and you've set it to full blast hot. An it's July. In Arizona. So now you are stuck literally sweating to the oldies while you barrel down the highway in a car you are not very familiar with. I'm sure if I owned these cars, I would get used to them, and it would be a little safer over time, but is it any better than what we had before

        I'm OK with including a touch screen, but it can't be the only way to interact. It has to be a combination of buttons and touch. Buttons should be there for all of the standard, commonly used functions like volume, input change (i.e. FM, AM, SAT, AUX), seek, etc. If you want to then make all of the audio tweaks (Bass, treble, balance), car setup, device pairing, or other odd functions, sure, put them on the touch screen, since those are things I will typically only do when I'm not driving. Or if it's something like answering the phone, it just becomes a big touch screen button that I can mash with my hand quickly without the need for much accuracy. I think some manufacturers get this, or at least used to get this, and have done what I suggest (My parent's VW has such a system) but so many are getting carried away with turning the car into an iPad that they forget where they are putting it (a car) and what you will also be doing while trying to operate it (driving).
        • Re:AppRadio (Score:5, Insightful)

          by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@nexusuk.oGAUSSrg minus math_god> on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @10:58AM (#44176705) Homepage

          The make it such a "rich" interface that I can't easily tell what is info and what is an actionable button. Then add in the fact that once you find a button and tap it, the whole screen changes and you have a whole new set of information and buttons to try to process (and god forbid the buttons stay in the same place or follow and common pattern from screen to screen).

          I think half the trouble is they are trying to make a good first impression rather than a good lasting impression, because its the first impression that sells - people look at the cars *in the show room* and fiddle with the entertainment system and obviously they prefer the one that looks really flashy. The only time they get to use it in anger, where functionality is more important the flashyness is after they've parted with their money.

          Same reason why most laptops are now glossy screens instead of antiglare screens - in the showroom the glossy screens look brighter and sharper, so people spend their money on those machines; but in real-world use, the anti-glare screens are nicer because they don't have horrendous reflections all over them all the time while you're trying to work.

      • Re:AppRadio (Score:4, Insightful)

        by plover (150551) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @10:32AM (#44176309) Homepage Journal

        What amazes me is that companies like Ford refuse to acknowledge this. To me, it's incredible that they can be so stupidly focused on trying to make a product that can never be made to work properly, because humans don't work that way.

        And it's not like they aren't being told this repeatedly. Consumer Reports states in every article featuring a Ford product that has their "Ford MyTouch" system that the car lost somewhere between 4 and 8 points on its overall score due to the crappy interface. And in many cases those points would take the vehicle from the middle or bottom of their grouping to the top of their category. This has been going on for every MyTouch equipped vehicle they have released since the 2012 model year.

        After looking at this carefully, the conclusion I have come to is they must have some hyper-egotistical VP of infotainment who has an MBA or marketing degree but no engineering background, and he has deemed by fiat that "touch screens are what people buy on their phones, make it happen on the dashboard", ignoring the advice of his safety engineers and human factors team. Microsoft was overjoyed to sell them their misnamed SYNC system (it actually syncs with nothing) as a base product, which they then had developed by some team who had no idea they were writing a car interface, and who still think popup "Are you sure you want to exit?" dialogs are appropriate for a vehicle. I wouldn't be surprised if their next release has the Windows 8 interface, complete with animated tiles trying to tell the driver that he has a new Facebook follower, three emails, and a coupon offer for a free trial of Angry Birds.

        If Ford can't change under pressure from engineers and consumers, I expect that there will be several lawsuits from the victims of distracted drivers. And that's a tragedy.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Pioneer AppRadio looks ideal - basically mirrors your phone's screen on it's 7" display. You need to do a bit of hacking to unlock the full potential, but the basic idea is brilliant.

      The only real down-side is that the FM radio side sucks. If you mainly listen to playlists on your phone though it isn't a big issue.

      Not really an option when you have a fairly sculpted dash, unless you want it to look like something the local maniac hacked together with his own three hands.

    • by xerxesVII (707232)

      The only real down-side is that the FM radio side sucks. If you mainly listen to playlists on your phone though it isn't a big issue.

      Oh, that's not an issue restricted to Pioneers. FM radio sucks regardless of the manufacturer.

    • by mmcxii (1707574)
      The only real down-side is that the FM radio side sucks.

      That has nothing to do with the head unit... broadcast radio sucks under any and all circumstances.
  • by jfdavis668 (1414919) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:19AM (#44174865)
    If you are going to build something like this into a car, it must be upgrade-able and replaceable. Cars are used well over 10 years, any computer system would be hopelessly obsolete in half that time.
    • by Cenan (1892902) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:26AM (#44174925)

      That is why you would rely on a standard interface, like Bluetooth or USB, for connecting devices. Don't replicate what you think people want, give them a way to put what they actually want on the screen, job done!

      • Most systems in cars nowadays accept Bluetooth phone and audio music streams. Most have a USB so you can dump songs on the radio.

        But general iPhone or Android units themselves might be more time coming. Radios have safety ratings with respect to touching the vehicle electronics and in-car networks. Even if a giant OS could be reasonably proven crash-free, every dinky app you might want won't be.

        And who gets sued because a 3rd party app crashed, distracting the driver? Ford, GM, or Chrysler.

        All of this d

      • by thegarbz (1787294) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @09:14AM (#44175341)

        Sorry but that still don't work. If I look at my car I would see that it was released the year the first WiFi standard was ratified, it would be running DirectX 5, the USB 1.0 spec would have just come out, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group wouldn't have been created for another 2 years let alone actually made a usable interface for anything other than a mobile phone accessory, real media was the cutting edge of music formats, the monitor would have been a 640x480 CRT, and it would potentially have come with a ZIP drive.

        I think you are underestimating just how quickly a standard interface can be replaced in our rapidly changing world of technology.
        - No bluetooth device released even 2 years after my car was would handshake properly with any modern equipment (standard not to be ratified for another 5 years), but if it did it would be woefully slow maxing out at a top speed under ideal conditions which would take more than 30 seconds to transfer a typical MP3, and no one ever saw that speed in practice.
        - If my car had WiFi it would not be able to connect to any modern encrypted wifi network as lack of encryption is not backwards compatible.
        - And if it had USB what device should it emulate? It would be another 8 years before USB hosts would seamlessly support all mass storage devices in a standard way.

        My car is 15 years old and showing no signs of dying or being replaced. Yet any technology in the entertainment systems which existed back then simply would not work any more even using completely open standards. I don't know what the computer world holds for us in 10-15 years, but I don't think anything I currently have would be compatible with it, and this is not even taking into account that the car industry is about 5 years behind in technology development.

        • I was trying to think of a good response, but this is better than I would have come up with. Thanks.
        • by xaxa (988988)

          My car is 15 years old and showing no signs of dying or being replaced.

          A 15 year old car might not have a CD player.

          Is it possible to replace the entertainment system? I'm sure it used to be, but I don't have much interest in cars (I don't own one) so I don't know.

          Alternatively, once the portable device is otherwise obsolete, keep it just for use in the car.

          • My 15 year old car has a cassette player. A CD changer was an option that the dealer could install. My iPhone communicates with the car via FM transmitter in a Jabra Freeway bluetooth speakerphone. The setup is pretty reasonable, though I find it easier to put the speakerphone in the middle of the dash instead of the visor. The FM transmitter on the Freeway isn't as good as the one that was on the Cruzr2, but it handles multiple phones better. Wheel mounted controls would be nice though.

          • by plover (150551)

            Older cars used to have a fairly standard interface for the in-dash radios, because they were simply radios. But with factory installed sound systems featuring a dozen independent speakers, trunk-mounted amplifiers, integrated climate controls, navigation systems, and all tied into the car's CAN bus, replacing them with an aftermarket product is much less of an option these days. On many of these tightly integrated vehicles, I fear they may never be upgradable.

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            Is it possible to replace the entertainment system?

            It is, but it would probably exceed the value of the 15-year-old car!

        • by mystik (38627)

          This is not an insurmountable problem -- so long as the 'head' is user-upgradeable, and offers all and any 'modern' connections.

          The Interface to the car's electronics has largely been stable. IIRC the CAN/ODB/ODB2 bus are extensible. RS232 has been around since 1962. It would not take much effort to define a simple, *OPEN*, and extensible monitoring + control protocol over any of these connectors, but they seem to not want to.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          That is why you would rely on a standard interface, like Bluetooth or USB, for connecting devices.

          Sorry but that still don't work.

          Yes, yes it will. But the standard wouldn't be bluetooth or USB, it would have been component or VGA and a USB touch/buttons interface back then, and today it would be HDMI/CEC (to handle screen buttons) and USB (for the touch panel.) The idea is good, even if the suggested particulars were incorrect.

        • A standard 3.5mm aux port would have been a pretty standard connection and back then connecting a portable CD player was something that was done frequently and most of the time using the awful cassette adapter. The whole process would have been much easier if auto makers had just used a standard 3.5mm jack instead. As an added bonus you could now connect your modern phone, ipod, etc. through that as well since they all still have a 3.5mm jack for connecting headphones.
        • by Sloppy (14984)

          Yet any technology in the entertainment systems which existed back then simply would not work any more even using completely open standards.

          Analog audio line-in.

        • by chihowa (366380)

          The correct solution to all of this is the solution we had ~15 years ago (maybe slightly modernized). Replaceable "media centers" in DIN, double DIN, or a new standard format with a uniform wiring harness on the other end.

          As you pointed out, the vehicle is going to outlive any computer standard. Allowing the entertainment/navigation computer to be entirely replaced along the way is the cleaner solution to the problem.

        • You bring up a good point, but I guess what I think of when people say "standards compliant" in this context is making a new standard listing:

          Form factor
          Mounting bracket size/position
          Standard connection for power (including voltage levels and minimum wattage).
          Audio out (for music)
          Audio in (for voice recognition)
          Antenna
          Discrete lines for key signals
          A dumb serial bus

          You can the bluetooth, wifi, USB, etc on the head itself; dozens of tablets do it already and without a need for a battery there is even more roo

      • by fermion (181285)
        Standards change. It was not so long ago that phones each had their own cable, and not everyone had USB. Bluetooth, and what is can do, is evolving. A car made two years ago is not necessarily going to meet expectations of a user with the greatest and latest equipment.

        Really, if look at what would have made cars expandable in term of devices, we are looking at a simple aux port. How many cars built in the past 10 years were built with a radio that did not have an aux port? Why did the radio not incl

      • by MacDork (560499)

        That is why you would rely on a standard interface, like Bluetooth or USB, for connecting devices. Don't replicate what you think people want, give them a way to put what they actually want on the screen, job done!

        Give me an 3.5mm audio line in on the dash and I would be happy. No patent licensing required. Why are auto makers so incompetent when it comes to providing basic features like this?

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      If you are going to build something like this into a car, it must be upgrade-able and replaceable. Cars are used well over 10 years, any computer system would be hopelessly obsolete in half that time.

      And the minute you buy the car some improvement comes out and if you can't upgrade a module easily you're stuck.

      Sirius and XM merged about ten minutes after the car radio for my VW was manufactured, so it doesn't go to the higher channels. I'm not about to fork over $700 for a newer radio, when only the tuner needs a fix.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:20AM (#44174871)

    Mobile operating systems and their associated hardware have a rapid release cycle that significantly outpaces vehicle infotainment systems.

    Let's hope car companies don't learn to emulate this, Engine Control Units actually work reliably.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Let's hope car companies don't learn to emulate this, Engine Control Units actually work reliably.

      As long as you don't have a 7.3 powerstroke. Those are reliable too; they reliably fail. The ones for California trucks (you know, the nation with the most vehicles) are becoming scarce and the upgrade path involves either hacking and re-pinning (!) a different PCM. Apparently builders can't get all the components to rebuild these, so if yours goes out and you send it in you run a significant risk of finding it is non-rebuildable. And you've paid shipping for nothing.

      I imagine some other people have some ot

      • I'm not saying there aren't screwups and bad designs, but that the overall level of reliability for ECU's in the industry has been pretty good. I've never had to replace one, and only know one person who had to once. Their software is also pretty good, with failsoft modes and the likes. If they worked as well as you average smart phone, or whatever the latest consumer geegaw is, we'd all go back to riding horses. Real engineering isn't always as glamorous as the latest toy, but it's what you need for things

  • Ford Tough (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:21AM (#44174887)

    I'm sorry Dodge, Toyota, Honda and all your friends; you simply can't compete.

    That's why Ford is going to be laughing all the way to the bank - their 2014 Ford Focus will be the first car to include both MySpace and AltaVista integration via an exclusive agreement with CompuServe.

    • I guess that leaves Chevy to grab an exclusive agreement with AOL. The Camaro just got better!
    • by Necroman (61604)

      I've been doing a lot of car research recently (shopping for a new car), and I've been reading a ton of different reviews from consumers and professionals.

      A lot of people don't like the Ford SYNC stuff as it is just too complicated for them. They want a radio and climate controls in their center stack, not all that other crap that some auto makers are pushing. GM with their Buick brand is having the same issue, their older customers are annoyed with a lot of the center-stack tech that is being added, as t

      • Nice to know I am not the only person who drives a vehicle until it doesn't move under its own power any more. The tech I would like in a vehicle entertainment system would be:
        AM radio
        FM radio
        Weather band radio
        3.5mm aux port
        A mode for displaying OBDII data and error codes
        This kind of thing is simple, cheap, reliable, useful and not flashy hence why it will never be included. I don't drive my car to be entertained (well I actually do but when doing that I don't have the radio on when going around the t
      • by plover (150551)

        Ford's SYNC is bad, but MyTouch is abysmal. Not only do you have a touch screen, but the fixed controls are touch sensitive. Reaching for them blindly is the same as activating them. And they reportedly don't work with gloves, which may not be a problem in San Diego, but here in Minnesota that's a killer.

      • by afidel (530433)

        BlueTooth with AVRCP is probably here to stay and the 2.0 audio codecs will probably be supported forever just like MP3, they're good enough at getting music from a device to the head unit that it seems unlikely they will be abandoned.

  • Or maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foghelmut (2817869) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:22AM (#44174895)
    Or maybe you should be driving instead of playing with infotainment systems.
    • If these were being installed on motorcycles, you may have a point. Cars, however, frequently have multiple occupants.

  • "Infotainment" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gmarsh (839707) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:24AM (#44174915)

    ... can we stop using that word? I don't know if it's the same for anyone else, but whenever I hear that word it sounds like something between the word "synergy" and an ice pick stabbed into my ear.

  • You change cars so much more often than desktop computers? Are you implying that desktop computer component builders should stop their line of work, because they can't compete with Microsoft, Apple, Google?

    Maybe your phone's software is tied to your phone, but that's your problem not the new status quo.

    And even if you planned to keep the same car for a decade, which may render the hardware obsolete, haven't you ever changed a part of your car?

    Automakers could put in computers for passenger/driver use in car

    • It appears to me that the suggestion in the article is more or less what you are saying. The submitter, at least, is suggesting that the in-car system used for info-tainment (I understand why people do not like that term, but it does some up what these systems do--they provide entertainment by playing music AND they provide information such as GPS) be something like the radio, something which has a standard interface which would allow people to swap it out for third party devices.
  • by AuMatar (183847) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:32AM (#44174977)

    The driver doesn't need that many distractions. A radio is fine. Hooking up to your playlists is fine. Anything beyond that isn't.

    • The driver doesn't need that many distractions. A radio is fine. Hooking up to your playlists is fine. Anything beyond that isn't.

      I'd agree and say the latest multimedia screens along with a mouse type input are bordering on ridiculous (and gaudy - Lexus at least). I can't imagine trying to use one of those in a vehicle. As for connecting to your mobile, numerous companies have joined with at least 2 companies to at least get the media over to the car and the other can actually interact with the phone.

      But what is "needed" is a way to play music (bluetooth) and maps and voice interaction.

  • Yes, there is nothing us app developers hate more than a stable, long-term OS that isn't constantly being upgraded to some new damn dessert. Must really suck to develop for a platform that not only has completely standardized hardware, but on has the same set of features for years.

  • All I want from an in car system is:

    1. FM and/or DAB radio.
    2. Bluetooth interface
    3. Steering wheel controls with actual buttons for the most used radio and whateverplayer functions - i.e. volume, previous track, next track, previous station, next station. Less used controls on the front panel of the radio but still physical buttons. Not a touch screen.
    4. USB power points.

    I don't want a CD player, MP3 player, satnav or anything else. They will be hopelessly outdated in no time and touch screens are quite fra

    • All I want a car to be is:

      • a car

      What I do NOT want a car to be is:

      • a rolling airco
      • a rolling ghettoblaster
      • a rolling home theater
      • a rolling tube light
      • a rolling home computer
      • a rolling communication device
      • etc.

      Is that really too much to ask for?

      • by mmcxii (1707574)
        Why do you have to ask for it? From what I've seen by doing a bit of car shopping recently it seems like unless you go balls wall with a new car you're not going to get anything beyond a standard radio/CD system anyway. If you're lucky it'll have an iPod connector. Most low end cars don't have advanced head units as an option.

        Point in case: I was looking at the new Subaru Outbacks. I have an indash GPS in my car and I'd like for my new car to have one too. The Outback starts around 23k. It isn't until you
    • by mmcxii (1707574)
      Outdated in what fashion? I find that term is used way too often.

      The question of being outdated should be in the form of a device's utility. Sadly this isn't the case anymore. Now-a-days outdated is determined by how high the watermark is raised from outside the system. So what if your car radio isn't the latest and greatest as long as it does what you want it to do. The only kinds of people who look at another system and become envious to the point that they feel ripped off by their older technology are 1
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:52AM (#44175127) Journal
    Forget electronics, even in their bread and butter cars, engines, torque and power these companies fare very poorly. We have known for about 100 years, some basic facts:
    1. Electric motors have maximum torque at zero rpm
    2. IC engines have peak torque at some 3000 rpm
    But till Tesla came out with a car using electric motors to beat the big "performance" car makers BMW, Porche, Jaguar and Benz, they kept messing with making the IC engines more and more powerful, with more and more complicated transmissions, in their acceleration pissing contest called 0 to 60 time. They have seen diesel - electric locomotives completely dispensing with transmissions, and using pure electric motors to produce oodles of torque needed to get a a mile long freight train moving. They should have added a small 10 or 20 HP electric motor to their high end cars, to go from 0mph to 5 or 7 mph in 0.5 sec and go fro 7 to 60 in 2 sec flat with their enormous 8 cyl, 12 cyl engines producing 300 to 500 HP. They could have done it 25 or 30 years ago. The technology needed to do it existed then. I am not talking about super efficient hybrid or regenerative braking or any such thing. I am talking about the pissing contest all these car companies took to heart and fought hard, and where there was big prize money awaiting the winner. Still not a single one of them thought of using a small electric motor to supplement their IC engines. But no, they were set in their ways till they were forced it eat the dust of Tesla with a liberal helping of crow.

    When it comes to electronics, they think they will make big profits here by the "walled garden" approach. All companies pack their GPS in bundles and try to charge 500$ to 1900$ to get the GPS. Then they want 100 to 200$ to upgrade the maps. Hello! Google maps and spoken driving directions are free. They think they are going to make money of these things?

    It is not just the auto makers who lack imagination and innovation. The whole industry reeks of anti-competitive behavior and following the rut. The dealers are lobbying to prevent Tesla from selling the cars directly to the customers.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Forget electronics, even in their bread and butter cars, engines, torque and power these companies fare very poorly. We have known for about 100 years, some basic facts:

      You started out OK, with your basic facts, and then proceed to jump to some completely unsupported conclusions. You assume that because the automakers are always chasing performance and making cars that break down just after the warranty period that they are failing. You assume that because the automakers are not pursuing fuel efficiency as their primary goal that they cannot do this. These are unsupported assumptions and you are making an ass of yourself as a result. The fact is that automakers HAVE made E

      • You are right in claiming electric motors are inherently more reliable by an order of magnitude or more. In Washington PA there is a museum for trollies and street cars. There there is a picture of twin brothers from some Eastern European country. Their claim to fame? They wound an electric traction motor for a trolly car in 1918 and it never needed to be rewound till the car was scrapped in 1984. All these years that motor dragged the trolley car through mud and snow and heat all through the streets of Pit
    • by Rich0 (548339)

      All companies pack their GPS in bundles and try to charge 500$ to 1900$ to get the GPS. Then they want 100 to 200$ to upgrade the maps. Hello! Google maps and spoken driving directions are free. They think they are going to make money of these things?

      Yup. I'm as much of a gadget guy as anybody, and the last thing I wanted in my car was the manufacturer's GPS system. Feature-wise they can't come close to Google Nav and the latter is $2k cheaper and actually accurate all the time.

      Yet, what is the one feature no car seems to have?: A simple way of mounting a phone to the dash. There should just be a standard-sized socket to mount a holder onto, and then device vendors can make a coupler specific to their devices.

  • by 1000101 (584896) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:53AM (#44175129)
    I drive a 2013 Ram 1500, and it has a relatively large LCD screen with an 'infotainment' system. I see no reason why it would ever need to be updated. It basically serves the following functions: Radio, Media (usb, aux, etc.), Phone, Navigation, Climate Control, and Settings. There is an 'app store' but it is useless to me and there really isn't much there anyway. Since all of the existing functionality already works, and they provide all of the features I need, where is the need for an upgrade? If there was a bug in the system, I could see where an upgrade would help. But from a pure functionality perspective, it isn't necessary.
    • by nblender (741424)

      Great. It's a 2013. What about installing new maps when the truck is 10 years old and the likes of me can afford to buy it from you?

    • by hackertourist (2202674) <hackertourist@xm ... t.nl minus berry> on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @09:26AM (#44175485)

      Navigation: I have a Volvo V40 that's 10 years old. It has a navigation unit built in. 5 years ago Volvo stopped providing map updates for it. And even if updates were available, its user interface sucks, it's slow and the CD player (it reads the map data from CD) is becoming increasingly unreliable. So yes, I want to be able to upgrade the infotainment, and not be stuck with 10 year-old technology that can't be removed from the car.

      What we need is the return of the DIN standard for car stereos, with some additions:
      1. a standard video connection to the screen that's usually found at the top the dashboard.
      2. a standard protocol and connector so the steering wheel buttons can control the stereo etc.

      • I just ordered a new BMW and the salesman could not understand why I would insist on ordering one without Navigation and the upgraded entertainment system and wait four weeks rather than pick one off the lot with all the fancy (fancy to the car guys) stuff. I told him BMW should stick to what it knows, IC engines and car bodies and keep its nose clear of things it has no idea of what fancy is.
        • by dargaud (518470)
          So what did you pick instead ? Leave a black hole in the middle of the dashboard ? It's not like you can purchase compatible systems anyway except maybe for basic radio with no link to the steering wheel buttons.
        • Sounds like my recent car shopping experience for my new daily driver. Sales people looked at me like I was retarded because I didn't care about all the fancy electronic gadgets that cars have been getting over the last 10 or so years and just wanted a mechanically perfect used car with a manual transmission. I would prefer the old arm-strong windows and mechanical locks as well but I don't think that there has been a vehicle built for sale in the US in the last 10 years that had that. Why does my car key n
      • by dj245 (732906)

        What we need is the return of the DIN standard for car stereos, with some additions....

        As much as I love the idea of the DIN standard, car radio theft is a huge problem with DIN style radios. Removing the faceplate every time you leave your car somewhere is a pain in the butt, and doesn't guarantee the radio won't be stolen anyway (radio theives aren't the smartest bunch). Car makers moving to nonstandard radios is the biggest reason car radio thefts have almost disappeared. I would much rather have bluetooth, a USB charging point, and an Aux port. Maybe we won't be using USB and bluetoot

  • There is no question that texting while driving is about as stupid a thing you could possible imagine doing (I'd compare it to going out and randomly firing a gun outside - probably won't kill anyone but you could easily)

    To that end I am glad to hear about NY's increased penalties for texting while driving. [ny.gov]

    But what has me scratching my head is the wording, which says:

    - -
    What are the laws on cell phone use, texting or sending email while you operate a vehicle in NYS?

    Under New York State law you cann

    • by alen (225700)

      you have to be using it in your hands. my iphone hooks into my car via a USB port and plays music. the steering wheel controls can control the device.

      and by NY State law its also illegal to use your phone while at a red light. you have to pull over and park to use it without a hands free device

  • by alen (225700) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @09:27AM (#44175503)

    at WWDC Apple had a quick preview of some car systems running iOS that will integrate with iphones using Siri and whatever else. Honda will have this on their 2014 models

  • I'm sorry Dodge, Toyota, Honda and all your friends; you simply can't compete.

    I think perhaps they can.

    In 2010, Toyota employed 325,905 people worldwide, and was the third-largest automobile manufacturer in 2011 by production behind General Motors and Volkswagen Group. Toyota is the eleventh-largest company in the world by revenue. In July 2012, the company reported it had manufactured its 200-millionth vehicle.

    On May 8, 2013, Toyota Motor Corporation announced its financial results for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013. Net revenues totaled 22.0 trillion yen (US$ 216.7 billion, +18.7%). Operating income was 1.32 trillion yen (US $13 billion, +371%), net income 962.1 billion yen (US$9.47 billion, +339%).

    Toyota [wikipedia.org]

  • >> Am I crazy, or does it seem like the automotive industry has lost sight of what will best serve the consumer?

    The automotive industry has lost sight of what will best serve the consumer.
    If you typed that in, and read it out loud, and kept a straight face..

    They cannot lose something they never had.

  • "Consumers would prefer to see a standards-based system that allows the interface of their existing mobile OS of choice duplicated or extended on an in-dash touchscreen, while having audio redirected from their device to the vehicle's speakers. Start focusing on technologies like Miracast" Consumers want easy. The average consumer has never heard of Miracast.

    Would the submitter please stop trying to speak for all consumers or even the majority of them? If you are excited about Miracast then you are obviou

  • To me the simplest and most straightforward solution is enabling a phone's touch interface to be extended to the larger dash screen. This could happen wirelessly or via wired connector (USB or HDMI).

    This puts the phone's features on the larger dash screen where they are presumably easier to interact with. For safety reasons, you could consider a restriction that prevents use of text and video apps display while the vehicle is in motion (but still make it easy to short that wire to ground for those of us w

  • In-car apps just plain suck. Please spare us the horror, Ford, and just give us a good flexible tablet dock in the middle of the console.

    Buy a TomTom, or Garmin, or Magellan nav system. Clean, easy to use, minimalist while providing the information you need to drive (and usually the option to add lots more layers of info for non-driving use, if you really want it).

    Now compare that to any in-dash OEM GPS (not simply one licensed from the big three mentioned above). Oh, sure, they'll show your car movi

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