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Why Automakers Should Stop the Infotainment Arms Race

Soulskill posted 1 year,22 days | from the driving-under-the-influence-of-angry-birds dept.

Transportation 317

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?"

cancel ×

317 comments

Microsoft (2)

JustANormalGuy (2969843) | 1 year,22 days | (#44174847)

Microsoft Microsoft Microsoft Microsoft Microsoft.

Re:Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175881)

Good point.

All thus FUD is because carmakers are starting to standardise on Linux for in-car systems. Microsoft is trying to poison the well before Automotive Grade Linux gets established.

The In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI) System is the most complex electronic system in the car. It collects data from all of the car’s sensors and integrates functions as diverse as navigation, climate control, media playback, cellphone connectivity and more.

Yet automakers have focused on IVI as their first target for open source software collaboration. Both the Automotive Grade Linux working group and GENIVI alliance are pioneering collaborative efforts to develop a Linux-based open source platform for IVI software development.

http://www.linux.com/news/featured-blogs/200-libby-clark/719560-5-reasons-infotainment-is-the-first-target-for-open-source-software-in-cars [linux.com]

AppRadio (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | 1 year,22 days | (#44174863)

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 (5, Insightful)

FireFury03 (653718) | 1 year,22 days | (#44174981)

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 (4, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | 1 year,22 days | (#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 (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | 1 year,22 days | (#44176139)

I actually expected this to be an article about how the infotainment systems were causing wrecks and was a bad idea, not that we should just use a phone os to do it.

Re:AppRadio (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175089)

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.

Agreed. I rented a car while on vacation and the thing I hated about the car was the damn touchscreen in the dashboard that I needed to fiddle with in order to control the stereo (there are buttons on the wheel but they only cover volume and prev/next track). Ended up having to give orders to my passenger anytime I wanted to change stations on the radio or folders on the MP3 player, otherwise I'd have to pull over to the side of the road in order to do it myself without risking an accident.

Re:AppRadio (5, Funny)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | 1 year,22 days | (#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 (4, Informative)

Lemmeoutada Collecti (588075) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175211)

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.

Re:AppRadio (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175275)

Press button on steering wheel. Say 'Preset 5' done. What, this doesnt do that? Failure.

Re: AppRadio (1)

peragrin (659227) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175469)

Setup your voice control system and then have several people make funny sounds at it.

Even things like Siri. Are horrible at sound recognition. Try burping at it. It is funny what it thinks.

Re: AppRadio (4, Funny)

NatasRevol (731260) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175873)

If you're burping to change the radio station, it should just give you a DUI ticket.

Re: AppRadio (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | 1 year,22 days | (#44176073)

Even things like Siri. Are horrible at sound recognition.

Dictated, but not read.

Re:AppRadio (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175097)

Bluetooth connected tactile interface to the phone.

Re:AppRadio (4, Insightful)

businessnerd (1009815) | 1 year,22 days | (#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 (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175363)

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.

Re: AppRadio (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175525)

Its called MirrorLink.. Its been a standard for some time now and JVC was one of the first to support it (along with Sony).

It basically can use WiFi, BlueTooth or USB and does a sort of VNC link with "X11" forwarding for lack of better terms. Granted some companies have built on top of it like Pioneer but they also lock out what you can do (unless you download the app that removes said locks)

Re:AppRadio (1)

xerxesVII (707232) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175877)

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.

Replaceable computer (4, Insightful)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | 1 year,22 days | (#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.

Re:Replaceable computer (4, Insightful)

Cenan (1892902) | 1 year,22 days | (#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!

Re:Replaceable computer (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175243)

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 doesn't even address legal issues like you can't play video where the driver can see it while the car is moving.

These super-radio nav systems and instrument panel clusters have massive constraints from legal and liability issues. Don't think an iRadio is going to be radically different and "open". Even the idea of pre-qualifying apps is fearsome. Who pays for the recall? Maybe Angry Birds could afford it. Maybe, but that's it.

Re:Replaceable computer (4, Interesting)

thegarbz (1787294) | 1 year,22 days | (#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.

Re:Replaceable computer (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175403)

I was trying to think of a good response, but this is better than I would have come up with. Thanks.

Re:Replaceable computer (1)

xaxa (988988) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175471)

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.

Re:Replaceable computer (1)

mystik (38627) | 1 year,22 days | (#44176145)

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.

Re:Replaceable computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44176155)

Hell, the USB port on my 2012 vehicle is a glorified charge port. Why? I don't own an Apple device and I don't store music on simple thumb drives. It actually explicitly says in the manual "Devices that have a built in USB hub will not work." So, pretty much any Android phone or MP3 player ever won't work.

Oh well. The 3.5mm line in and Bluetooth work just fine. Plus, it's a double-DIN unit so, with the purchase of a few adapters to connect the in-cab stuff, I can replace it with minimal fuss. (Good luck doing that with an integrated nav system...)

Re:Replaceable computer (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175459)

Bluetooth and USB are short lived standards. Bluetooth is from the phone industry, USB from the computer industry, and none of those industries operate with the same transfer rates for more than a couple of years.

When my car was new, it came with the then standard: Casette tape. That standard lasted a lot longer than either Bluetooth or USB are going to, and yet, the previous owner replaced the radio with one that played CDs, and I replaced that one with one that plays MP3s from SD cards, and connects to my phone via bluetooth.

Replacing the radio was easy, because it used a much more long-lived standard than either USB or Bluetooth: 12V DC and regular speaker cables.

Re:Replaceable computer (1)

fermion (181285) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175517)

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 include one? An auxiliary port is not a complex thing. There is no reason when every car built in this century should not include one.

OTOH, the main concern with building devices used in cars is not he technology, but the user interface, which must be used by a driver who is supposed to be driving. The radio found in cars 30 years were a joke compared to what we had at home, but the purposes were different.

Re:Replaceable computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175961)

Except neither Bluetooth or USB are "standard" at the application layers. From a radio or cable point of view, yes these interfaces are standard which is a good thing. But consumer manufacturers do their own thing with application protocols and therefore makes interoperability a nightmare. Also standards move on over time and then backwards compatibility becomes the issue. This is why you have to install drivers on Windows, do not expect drivers to be available for your car infotainment system.

Re:Replaceable computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44174973)

I agree completely, a technology that is similar to that of a blade chassis should be developed. When a newer shiny tech comes out, simply purchase a new unit and swap out the old one.

Re:Replaceable computer (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175383)

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.

Good thing car companies are behind (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,22 days | (#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.

Re:Good thing car companies are behind (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175137)

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.

Let's hope stupid lemmings wandering around the parking lot don't fall for it anyway. 10 years ago they fell for the shiny new touch-screen nav system, not even caring that the DVD that runs it will be hopelessly outdated in 5 years, in which the manufacturers will charge an arm and a leg for an upgrade DVD.

Consumers are as clueless as a Kardashian when it comes to these things. All they care about is having the shiny new toy to make the neighbor jealous. Manufacturers know this. It's time you wake up and realize that manufacturers are not the real problem here.

Ford Tough (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#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.

Re:Ford Tough (1)

orthancstone (665890) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175443)

I guess that leaves Chevy to grab an exclusive agreement with AOL. The Camaro just got better!

Re:Ford Tough (1)

buxomspacefish (2811071) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175817)

I guess that leaves Chevy to grab an exclusive agreement with AOL. The Camaro just got better!

You've got mail!

Re:Ford Tough (1)

Necroman (61604) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175957)

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 they don't understand it or want it.

My other issue is how relevant all these features will be in 10-15 years. Will Pandora still be around? How about BlueTooth? Will iPod support even matter in 10 years? My current car is pushing 17 years old, I'm pretty sure it has outlasted most tech that could have been put into it at the time.

Ford - Sync (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44174893)

Some are already doing this.

These aren't dumb companies, remember there are a lot of consumer protection laws and if your vehicle has a problem.

Or maybe (5, Insightful)

foghelmut (2817869) | 1 year,22 days | (#44174895)

Or maybe you should be driving instead of playing with infotainment systems.

Re: Or maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44174939)

No shit right? Cars are not home entertainment centers, I've been rear ended 3 times in the last year because drivers are messing with their toys instead of paying attention to driving.

Re: Or maybe (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175083)

3 times in a year? Maybe you are part of the problem (obviously still people behind you fault, but you can have a part, such as breaking too fast/hard not signaling properly, etc)

Re: Or maybe (5, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175415)

Being rear-ended is never the fault of the person getting rear-ended. If you can't safely stop when the car in-front emergency brakes then you're driving too close. Yes it's an invite for someone to jump in front of you but that's not the point.

Re: Or maybe (2)

pr0fessor (1940368) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175729)

I had a couple parked cars totaled by texters. This is not counting the hit that didn't total the car or the two mirrors that where nipped off. If this thing does face book I'll need to put up a fence with barricades to keep them from hitting my house.

Re: Or maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44176003)

Sorry but obviously you've never driven in a city.

Too-close overtaking? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44176185)

See a gap more than 10 car lengths? You pass and nip in there. There's still 4 car lengths left!

Except now there isn't enough distance for safe driving now, and if you find yourself braking hard, you will now be rear-ended by someone whose fault this was not.

Re:Or maybe (1)

Lew Perin (30124) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175477)

Exactly. And if automakers fail to sell many distractive subsystems, maybe they should rejoice, for that means fewer lawsuits from the survivors of distracted-driving crash victims in the future.

Re:Or maybe (1)

LordLucless (582312) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175537)

If these were being installed on motorcycles, you may have a point. Cars, however, frequently have multiple occupants.

"Infotainment" (3, Insightful)

gmarsh (839707) | 1 year,22 days | (#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.

Re:"Infotainment" (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | 1 year,22 days | (#44174999)

Synergy is abused in marketspeak, but it's a perfectly legitimate word itself, ask the Greeks.

Re:"Infotainment" (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175025)

Would that be "synerpick" or "icergy"?

Re:"Infotainment" (1)

JustOK (667959) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175065)

Which ear?

Re:"Infotainment" (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175111)

if the infotainment system is stuck playing Celine Dion, hopefully both...

Re:"Infotainment" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175169)

... 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.

The idiotic ramblings of marketeers will NOT stop until one of them is murdered in cold blood, and it is PROVEN that they were murdered for creating such bullshit words.

I take that back. It will continue. Marketeers are about as intelligent as consumers. (and yes, I realize I'm using one of those stupid words here, but I use it in a derogatory way, not looking to make fucking money off it)

Re:"Infotainment" (1)

BigZee (769371) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175535)

Sorry, although I can't say I'm a fan of the word either, it is what manufacturers are calling them, at least that's the case with my car. And, again, although it's a horrible word, it's name is fairly appropriate. In my car the system manages the radio, cd changer, ipod, sat nav and various other configuration elements for the car (do the mirrors fold in when the cars locked, how long do the interior lights stay on, etc). What would you call it if not infotainment?

throwaway crap .. (1)

sundru (709023) | 1 year,22 days | (#44174923)

Theres definitely a difference between a rapid cycle throwaway crap vs I need this to work flawlessly for next 10 years stuff. Recently had the chance to troubleshoot an unconnect system which conked out, on the new jeeps and realized would gladly take an outdated stable interface vs bleeding edge stuff, especially when the only way to turn on a/c and controls is thru interface. Need beats fancy shit any day especially on 102F days :)

Two different races (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | 1 year,22 days | (#44174967)

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 cars and then also sell upgrades for those computers.

Re:Two different races (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175123)

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.

Re: Two different races (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175763)

Obviously you've never worked in or installed mobile electronics.. Radios *do not* have standard interfaces. Sizes for aftermarket, yes and the antenna plugs and RCA jacks are the same on after market, but that's it. Power/speaker line plug are all different.

Its even worse when it comes to the OEM stuff.. Hell even the antenna plug on GMs are different than Fords which are different than Honda...

Re:Two different races (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175229)

...Automakers could put in computers for passenger/driver use in cars and then also sell upgrades for those computers.

Yeah, and automakers could have given away the new DVD that ran the $3000 navigation systems instead of charging hundreds for them.

Your statement is so full of shit it hurts. What they can do, and what they will do, are worlds apart. They will expend every effort to ensure that spending $25,000 to "upgrade" your entire car is worth far more than any component upgrade or swap, IF they are willing to do even that without voiding the warranty.

Why they should really stop (2)

AuMatar (183847) | 1 year,22 days | (#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.

Re:Why they should really stop (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175567)

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.

Forget Infotainment (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44174993)

Forget infotainment - I want fully-integrated driving gamification. Preferably provided by Rockstar North.

Re:Forget Infotainment (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175069)

Forget infotainment - I want fully-integrated driving gamification. Preferably provided by Rockstar North.

I vote for niggers on the head up display, with point for hitting them.

What if car companies care about out safety? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175043)

Modern mobile system lacking of two important features. First of all - it's lack of true realtime, how often per day you notice that interface on you smartphone is lagged? That would be pity if computer which controls your braking system will lag even on a 1/10 of a second. The second lack is reliability, that's not very common, but sometimes i got "application was closed" on my android smartphone(usually it's skype crashed). So i can't trust my life to Android or iOS.

Re:What if car companies care about out safety? (0)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175139)

Why is the computer that controls my braking system connected to the device that plays my music and gives me directions via GPS in the first place?

Re:What if car companies care about out safety? (1)

camperdave (969942) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175343)

It's cheaper.

Re:What if car companies care about out safety? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175945)

So are cars without airbags or seatbelts but we don't let car companies sell those.

Re:What if car companies care about out safety? (1)

camperdave (969942) | 1 year,22 days | (#44176187)

Using different computers for braking and GPS isn't going to make the car any safer, and it's not going to save any lives in a collision.

Why compete? Co-operate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175049)

Define an open and free standard for how to talk to and from the in-car systems and let the market deal with implementing it. Free and open means there are no reasons *except for ones with benefits to the company, not the customers* to avoid using it and you get a talking point of "Wide application support for infotainment on your mobile device!", without having to worry (or take blame) for some weird-ass Raspberry Pi or WinRT device not being supported.

Sometimes the only winning move is not to play.

Who wants a stable, long-term platform?!? (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175057)

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.

The best unread point ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175061)

This is like someone putting a really good environmental piece on natural gas drilling, solving all issues with gas leakage, into Redbook for all homemakers to read. Whats the point, will you have greater then zero impact on your intended audience. Then again maybe im not giving the Dailytech editors enough credit. And then again, I really in enjoyed putting this here...and no one from the Dailytech is going to read this...hum...

Rebranded WinCE junk (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175081)

You won't see a change as long as automakers can charge over $2,000 for a rebranded WinCE Nav Unit with some plastic mounts.

Perhaps drivers should be watching the road... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175091)

... rather than 'infotainment' devices?

Re:Perhaps drivers should be watching the road... (1)

camperdave (969942) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175481)

Perhaps drivers should be watching the road rather than 'infotainment' devices?

Exactly. This is why you need buttons that provide tactile feedback, rather than a touch screen.

Who cares waste of a read (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175099)

God it must be a slow week when Dailytech complains about infotainment driven by the car industry. What next? Maybe they'll write a 2 page editorial on how fridge manufacturers should stop building technology into their appliances. Let the industry work it out for themselves. People can replace their car radios or install aftermarket options, so why bitch about this. It employs people and creates custom software that a mobile developer would never try to create.

I don't want any of that (1)

Alioth (221270) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175103)

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 frankly awful for use in a car, and satnav updates for built-in car systems are generally expensive - compared to TomTom on my iPhone which gets updated automatically. Passengers can bring their own tablet if they want to watch videos in the back seat.

Re:I don't want any of that (2)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175531)

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?

DIN hole, ISO connector (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175125)

They should go back to DIN hole, ISO connector, and keep the buttons for the AC and other non-stereo things separate.

My car was built in 1991. When I enter, my phone connects to the radio via bluetooth, and when I receive a call, I press the accept call button on the radio, and get the sound over the original speakers. But bluetooth didn't exist in 1991, cell phones hardly existed back then. You see, my car has just that: A DIN hole, and a regular connector that becomes an ISO connector with the help of a cheap adaptor. Old radio out, disconnect cables, connect new radio, insert into hole. Done.

And everything else still works, because that was just the radio, not the integrated kitchen sink that is both a radio (analogue, of course, which won't last another ten years), and the controls for the car itself, as is often found on modern cars.

Car companies innovate very poorly. (4, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175127)

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.

RAM 1500 'Infotainment' system (3, Interesting)

1000101 (584896) | 1 year,22 days | (#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.

Re:RAM 1500 'Infotainment' system (2)

nblender (741424) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175239)

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?

Re:RAM 1500 'Infotainment' system (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175315)

$current_standard ought to be enough for anybody.

Re:RAM 1500 'Infotainment' system (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175391)

It basically serves the following functions: Radio, Media (usb, aux, etc.)

Guess how the same sentence would sound when my 1991 Toyota was new...

"It basically serves the following functions: Radio. Media (casette tape)".

The previous owner replaced the radio with one with a CD player (no MP3). I replaced it with one that plays MP3 from SD cards.

Your USB connectors are going to be outdated way faster than CDs or Casette tape was.

Re:RAM 1500 'Infotainment' system (3, Insightful)

hackertourist (2202674) | 1 year,22 days | (#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.

Re:RAM 1500 'Infotainment' system (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | 1 year,22 days | (#44176017)

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.

Re:RAM 1500 'Infotainment' system (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44176197)

DIN is still here, albeit getting harder and harder to find.
At least Volkswagen still has it in all the cars (or at least on the affordable ones).

It sucks that most brands have dropped it though. I'd love to get me a decent Android head unit, but currently you can only find crappy no-name ones because the market is too small for a decent company to bother (Parrot doesn't count -- their attempt was even crappier than the Chinese white brands).

Don't want rapid release or continuous improvement (1)

Andover Chick (1859494) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175227)

First of all, on ANY platform I DETEST rapid release and continuous improvement. What I want is MEANINGFUL releases of MAJOR changes in a cohesive, well tested release. I hate crap apps on my Android phone or Java run-time constantly f*ing looking to be updated for little changes. I especially ABHOR continual rearrangements of the interface (which Chase banking is constantly messing with)! All of this coming to my automobile. There are enough distractions on the road already!

Re:Don't want rapid release or continuous improvem (1)

Andover Chick (1859494) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175277)

And please add to my list of obnoxious continual improvement software iTunes!

How does NY's new "cell phone" law allow anything (1)

Jon_S (15368) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175247)

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 cannot use a hand-held mobile telephone or send a text or an email while you drive. If you use a hand-held mobile telephone while you drive, except to call 911 or to contact medical, fire or police personnel about an emergency, or use a device to text or send email, you can receive a traffic ticket and pay a maximum fine of $100 and mandatory surcharges and fees of up to $85.

In 2013, several changes are being made to the penalties for these violations as described below.

Increased Driver Violation Points

  • For offenses committed between October 5, 2011 and May 31, 2013, this violation carries driver violation points.
  • For offenses committed on or after June 1, 2013, this violation carries five driver violation points.

- -
By my reading, this says you can't even use your cell phone to play music through bluetooth or use google maps navigation. Or does "use a hand-held mobile telephone" mean "make a phone call". I suppose it may depend on the mood of the cop who pulls you over?

What do you think?

Re:How does NY's new "cell phone" law allow anythi (1)

alen (225700) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175473)

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 the same logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175457)

Amercians should just give up designing cars .

Analog (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175475)

Everything should be analog.

Re:Analog (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175545)

Analog electronics is the future, so long software.

iOS is coming to cars (2)

alen (225700) | 1 year,22 days | (#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

Interoperability game (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175607)

The car is becoming a hub for a convergence of consumer equipment in a hostile environment. The environmental standards for car equipment is much higher than a domestic PC so do not expect to throw in a PC and the job is done. Even using USB is non-trivial due to power fluctuations.

Interoperability is the name of the game. However, consumer manufacturers are know to implement "standards" strangely. Apple is one of the worst for interoperability due to their proprietary interfaces and protocols. This means car manufacturers have to create Apple specific solutions.

Linux on ARM is the dominant solution in this market. Many car manufactures bring their own graphical solutions and put it on top of a Linux kernel. In theory, this same hardware could run Android instead of the car manufactures solution.

The system software is upgradable during a car's service so the system can be supported for the 10 year period.

There are attempts at making these systems standard in the GenIVI project.

Having just tried to upgrade my in-car kit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44175699)

...I gave up. I left the OEM kit in place and bought a £700 box that emulates a CD changer so that the in-car kit doesn't know there's a an iPod or bluetooth streaming going on. It's a frightful kludge, but it would have been even more expensive to pull out the stereo and display, the amp, and exchange the speakers (bloody Porsche (a used one, I might add) and stupid BOSE) - only to end up with a SATNAV system that's about 1/10th as good as the co-pilot install on have on my Note2 and none of the spotify goodness AND a potential hit on re-sale. Given the limitations, the Mobridge box works really well but it simply shouldn't be necessary.

Standard A/V connectors and some common support for touchscreen/steering controls would do me just fine.

Never Say Never (1)

westlake (615356) | 1 year,22 days | (#44175979)

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]

Worked for OnStar (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44176011)

I worked in software development for OnStar. Posting as AC.

The short answer is - the article is very accurate. Development processes are horrifying, and the corporate mindset there (trying to patent parts of Agile) is absolutely ludicrous.

What they SHOULD do - make their systems and accessories easily available to third parties via a common and well-documented interface - is exactly what they WON'T do, because there's money in it. OnStar makes an OBSCENE amount of money for what it actually provides to the customer, for example, and any threat to that would make the difference between the organization being profitable and losing money.

Mis informed author (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44176029)

So, whoever wrote this does know that this is all about car specific apps. making getting car health information easy. Being able to change what your speedometer looks like. Add/remove oil life warnings I suppose. Having nav in the console but the next turn info near the information cluster.

Climate controls will also go there.

Etc etc.

And car companies can integrate velocity into things like video calling to turn video off when in motion for safety.

Scedual oil changes from your car after your car prompts you to do so.

And if there is rear monitors, the main console could control those videos that your kids are watching.

And the Blackberry solution (alot of cars use QNX so don't be shocked here) would limit apps to those available in the manufacturers app store. This isn't going to necessarily allow angry birds to run in the console. Maybe pandoro but it is limited.

My point is, auto makers are not competing with Google and Apple and RIMM. It's not even close.

Don't Re-Invent the Wheel or the Wireless Device (1)

Kilo Kilo (2837521) | 1 year,22 days | (#44176067)

When I found out my new Toyota had bluetooth that linked to the cars speakers I was happy because I could get rid of that uncomfortable headset and there were even some nice buttons on the steering wheel, so I didn't have to take my hands off the wheel. The cheap headset could connect to multiple phones and would automatically bring up the voice activated menu on each phone. Surely my brand new car bluetooth will function the same way, right? Wrong. It can only connect one phone at a time and cannot work with the phone's menu. No dial by name, no caller ID, no nothing. In order to make a call, I would have to go into the phone, look up a number and hit call. That's just as dangerous as texting.

Why did they waste the time and money developing and installing this? Concentrate on making cars. Make the cars more fuel efficient. Make the cars safer. They shouldn't be an extension of your phone or TV or the internet with wheels.

Focus, auto-industry, focus. (I almost said Detroit, but who are we kidding?)

Not everyone has the same mobile devices and not everyone wants the same level of connectivity to their car. Just have a way of connecting the device to the audio/video in the car and let the device do the work.
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