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Automakers Struggle With Pairing Smartphones To Car Infotainment Systems

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the just-make-it-a-terminal-for-pete's-sake dept.

Transportation 187

Lucas123 writes "As Toyota owners have often found out the hard way, they cannot use Bluetooth to pair an iPhone to their car's Entune infotainment system in order to use mobile apps. Drivers can set up their iPhones as a WiFi hotspots, but there's a fee for that. Part of the problem is that Toyota bundles all of the available Internet apps — such as Bing, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, Pandora and other data services such as local fuel prices, traffic and weather information — on the infotainment system so it can track how they're being used. The company suggests drivers simply plug their phones into the car's USB port. Toyota's not alone in its wireless dilemma. Part of the problem is automakers can't keep up with mobile app software upgrades, so they use proprietary interfaces. But that may soon be changing. Toyota said its next model year will include Bluetooth pairing, but it still doesn't solve the longer term problem of how to upgrade infotainment systems without waiting the two to four years that new car models typically take to roll off the lines. Some automakers, like Audi, are moving to modular infotainment systems that allow chipsets to be replaced on the fly."

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187 comments

Simple... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208539)

Allow software update of the system through USB.
Download the latest version from the Toyota website, put it on a usb key, plug in the car, select Software update in the contextual menu, and boom, you're done.
Or have it all running directly off an SD card which can be replaced/upgraded if it ever fails instead of built-in storage that can fail over time and is harder to change.

Re:Simple... (5, Informative)

turrican (55223) | about 6 months ago | (#45208733)

I work at a dealership as a tech, and I've asked essentially the same question of the manufacturer. The party line is that field updates to audio systems are problematic mainly due to the internals changing enough over the life of any given audio unit model, and that while doable, the ROI in coming up with an update that's "field-ready" just doesn't make it worth it. They figure swapping with a "remanufactured" unit (one that they've been able to go through and upgrade/replace any problematic subsystems as well as update to the latest "ideal" software configuration) is preferable and more reliable, in general, than releasing a software update that might require a technician to go through and evaluate as go/no go for a given installed unit.

It may sound like a simple thing to send out an update with a USB key and simple instructions on properly evaluating a unit for eligibility prior to upgrade, but trust me on this - in that industry, it isn't. It's difficult enough getting most techs just to avoid ruining the USB *PORT* on the diagnostic laptop...

Re:Simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209617)

And who would blame them? Most users do the same: Windows doesn't start anymore? New laptop.

Re:Simple... (4, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about 6 months ago | (#45208745)

That doesn't include the hardware. The CPU needs to be a screen-less tablet in the center console or dash that's locked, but easily removable by non-thieves. Swap out the $50 tablet core for hardware upgrades.

The problem is that makers have deliberately built cars to be complex and expensive. Changing radios from the '60 and '70s was easy. At most you needed a faceplate and a small wiring adapter. Now, you can't. The radio is connected to the A/C (for no good reason). If you could replace the $10,000 upgraded stereo with a $100 commodity version that's better, they'll not sell the high-profit accessories and such.

Solution: Build your own carputer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208545)

Carputers have been around for ages, lots of enthusiasts buy parts that would fit a micro-pc, install it in the trunk and the screen in the dash. It's not terribly hard and you retain all windows/mac/linux functionality. No more proprietary software, just use it like you would want to. I think windows 8 is meant for this, while I haven't tried it out for myself, I think the dash thingy that windows 8 comes with might be really useful in this case. Either way, why spend a fortune on Toyota's hardware when you can just build your own? It's just a level above building your own PC rig. However, insurance companies might differ on that opinion.

Re:Solution: Build your own carputer (4, Informative)

slashgordo. (2772763) | about 6 months ago | (#45208979)

Similar to the carputer, I put together a mount for a Nexus 10 tablet in the dash of my car, and I use an AT&T MiFi Liberate for data access on the go. You just have to resist the urge to touch that beautiful 10" screen while you are in motion. I'm thrilled with the setup, and when I get to my destination, I take the tablet with me. And I threw in a couple of NFC tags for when I enter/exit the car, and it does all my typical setup as I'm putting it into the dashboard mount. I'm embarrassed to say how much I paid for the nav system integrated into my car when I bought it half a decade ago, but I'm glad I didn't buy any overpriced map update discs for it. Google maps and navigation are starting to rock the auto industry.

Yay for technology! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208551)

lets fiddle with apps while driving 70 mph! what could possibly go wrong?

What could possibly go right. (1, Insightful)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 6 months ago | (#45208785)

lets fiddle with apps while driving 70 mph! what could possibly go wrong?

Those same applications, might provide life saving guides in event of an accident, or warn of a collision ahead, preventing further loss of life. disable or take over controls of car in event of the driver being intoxicated, drugged, asleep, heart attack. Limit car to preferred drivers. Or even the boring things we are used to like sat nav, or internet radio

Your right people could facebook or play angry birds at 70mph...they can already do that on their phone, or well there could be useful apps geared towards, boring *car* things that just happen to be smart.

Cutting edge (1)

Brien Coffield (3026589) | about 6 months ago | (#45208565)

The all new 2014 model SE, state of the art, uses all new technology! Sporting an impressive RHEL5 operating system, you just have to drive it.

Re:Cutting edge (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#45209853)

How much of it is under my control and how much of it is under its maker's?

That's the first question you'd have to answer before I even ponder thinking about remotely considering getting maybe a little bit excited.

Obvious solution (2, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | about 6 months ago | (#45208567)

How about simply not making it easier for people to take their eyes off the road while they're supposed to be driving? The last thing we need to add to vehicles is the ability to use apps while driving.

Re:Obvious solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208947)

I've got a 2012 Prius, and it allows my Samsung to connect via Bluetooth, no problem. Yes, it still has a USB port, but I only use that for charging or for carrying a usb stick with extra songs on it. Maybe older cars had trouble, but mine is over a year old.

Re:Obvious solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208983)

Oh, and with the optional head up display, the navi instructions can appear on the windshield...VERY nice!

Re:Obvious solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208959)

In all fairness to that, cars are being made to feel like portable living rooms, prior to that they were being made to be like portable love seats, my point is they are machines and dangerous ones at that, and you are making drivers to comfortable and there unaware of the danger. I do not remember people complaining about cars not being comfortable enough!!! "You know it wouldn't be so bad if they had padded seats instead of a wooden seat/bench" Never heard anything remotely close to that.

Re:Obvious solution (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#45209231)

You've got it backwards. If your phone doesn't link to your car, you might be tempted to take your eyes off the road to look at the phone as a map or to send a voicemail or skip to the next song. But if it links to the car, you can get turn-by-turn directions from your phone or use it to send a voicemail, etc, all eyes-free and hands-free.

Bing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208571)

The fact that auto makers consider 'bing' to be an internet app says much about the problems their having.

in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208581)

relatives and loved ones of road slaughter struggle while trying to figure out why car manufacturers purposely distract drivers with apps is moral and legal.

God help us. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208583)

The fact that a car infotainment system is considered desirable and maybe even mandatory by the general populace is a sure sign of intellectual decline. The social sneers directed at those without a smartphone (I will not be assimilated) is an even greater bit of evidence for my case that technology that was meant to do great things is being abused and frittered away on pointless garbage that makes us too dependent on the status quo.

It's the money. (0)

demonlapin (527802) | about 6 months ago | (#45208585)

Car manufacturers charge an ungodly amount of money for their integrated audio-and-GPS systems. People have been trying to listen to their own music for ages. I had tape adapters for my portable CD player so I could listen to better-quality music in the car since the early 90s, but line-in inputs only became standard equipment in about the last five years.

Ten years from now, I expect this will be a solved problem, but right now it's like personal computers ca. 1980 - everyone has a different solution, each has its own merits and faults, and we're just going to have to wait until standardization occurs.

Re:It's the money. (3, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | about 6 months ago | (#45208659)

Ten years from now, I expect this will be a solved problem, but right now it's like personal computers ca. 1980 - everyone has a different solution, each has its own merits and faults, and we're just going to have to wait until standardization occurs.

Unless customers express a strong preference for standards, nothing is going to change. The manufacturers believe that they can make a lot of money from updates and upgrades during the life of the vehicle (just look at how much updated maps for integrated GPS systems cost) and they are not going to give up that income without a strong signal from car buyers.

Car manufacturers love this income stream because it doesn't affect the price of a new car -- it may be the second owner who has to pay it.

Re:It's the money. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#45209865)

I wouldn't get my hopes up for that "standardization". If anything, it will ensure that you can't do jack yourself and HAVE TO buy some kind of overpriced solution because ... umm... safety. Yeah, we'll go with that reason. Safety is always a good enough reason when it comes to getting you to spend ten times of what's necessary on your car.

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208587)

The automakers are idiots. I suggest Android as the obvious answer. It's the most used smartphone and mobile operating system in the world.
Automakers should work harder on making their cars better, and provide open solutions for infotainment.

But who is actually to blame? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208605)

It likes like Toyota are being super-sensitive about assigning blame but the evidence in the article seems to indicate this is actually a fault in the iPhone, not the car system. Given Apple has an ongoing distain for open standards why are Toyota so eager not to say as much?

Not just Toyota (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208639)

I'm a tech at a Chrysler dealership, and those uConnect systems are infuriating. We have nothing but problems with any Apple device (Except the older iPods that are physically connected via USB), and while Android devices are more compatible, there are often some features that just refuse to operate. Patching the software is generally easy, usually via USB stick with a bootloader and updated software, but it's perplexing as to why we can't update them with our factory scan tool like we do with all the other modules on the vehicle.

Re:Not just Toyota (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208833)

but it's perplexing as to why we can't update them with our factory scan tool like we do with all the other modules on the vehicle.

Do those other modules that you update with your factory scan tool require 50MB software updates, plus a few GB for the maps?

Re: Not just Toyota (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208911)

#insider

Re:Not just Toyota (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209063)

but it's perplexing as to why we can't update them with our factory scan tool like we do with all the other modules on the vehicle.

Do those other modules that you update with your factory scan tool require 50MB software updates, plus a few GB for the maps?

I think we live in a day and age where we can eventually upgrade even the factory scan devices to support reasonable transfer speeds. If a software update consists of a few GB of data, a factory scan tool that is built on commodity USB 3.0 (released in 2008) can handle the transfer easily in under a minute (5 GBit/second).

Even if it flaked out on you and dropped down to 480 MBit/second, it would be a pretty fast upgrade, considering that you only need to plug it in while you do some of the other mundane tasks (read the odometer, change all the radio presets, rotate the tires, rummage through the glove box, etc.)

Re:Not just Toyota (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209323)

a factory scan tool that is built on commodity USB 3.0 (released in 2008) can handle the transfer easily in under a minute (5 GBit/second)

USB 3.0 won't help when all the scan tool is doing is just pushing the data onto a 1Mbps CAN bus.

Re:Not just Toyota (1)

hawkingradiation (1526209) | about 6 months ago | (#45209679)

Comment...I would much rather buy a Toyota when it had Linux in it and was incompatible with Apple. I think instead if inking a deal with Microsoft which provides the "entertainment" system, they would have been much better off it they stayed with Linux. Now I think getting a car might just have to wait until they do something about this....I can already see update problems and freezing and the like, not to mention incompatibility with anything but a Windows phone. Ford does it too and were one of the early Microsoft adopters. Oh well, Jaguar Land Rover or high-end luxury car for me. This was a bad move on the part of Toyota. (I own a slightly older one, and I'm not sure "something" was better than nothing.

I hate these things. (5, Interesting)

atari2600a (1892574) | about 6 months ago | (#45208651)

My girlfriend has a new Prius C. She tried to convince her father not to get the one w/ the in-dash computer but they got it anyways, & here's just a little sample of what you get: You can't seek FM channels backwards. That's right. You passed your channel by accident? You better have bookmarked it because you're gonna have to do it all over again. You can't play FLAC files if you use your phone as a USB mass storage device so get ready to haul around an auxilliary audio cable. Bluetooth playback works but there's no real means to browse on the computer-- you'll have to do song selection on your phone & better hope you don't have to rewind. Oh yeah, you can't rewind. The maps application is supposedly able to pull Google Maps maps/traffic/fuel price data through your phone but who knows how long it'll be API compatible. You're also stuck w/ bluetooth bandwidth as (I've tested) internet tethering over USB doesn't work. I say tear it out & drop in an Android 4.x anything (tablet, phablet, proper in-dash computer, even a glorified phone mount), but, you know, resale value & all.

3D print a new dash. Remember DIN? (2, Insightful)

xtal (49134) | about 6 months ago | (#45208683)

I keep cars 15 years. Modern cars are very good.

You're a sucker if you're perpetually buying new cars. Maintain them properly and save some money.

There was a standard solution for decades, and the stupid manufacturers integrate everything.

It's almost new car time .. 3D printing a replacement dash and integrating a AppRadio or other alternative may be the only possibility in a lot of cases.

The real pain comes when they integrate things you need, like maintenance calculators and schedules.. car makers shouldn't get involved with consumer electronics.

My wife drives a 1998 Subaru Forester to school every day. Do you still use .. or even own.. any electronics from 1998?

Re:3D print a new dash. Remember DIN? (1)

Knuckx (1127339) | about 6 months ago | (#45208723)

Here in the UK, DIN is still a used standard. Walk into an auto parts store, and they will quite happily sell you any number of DIN head units and a mount/adapter kit for your car (if it needs one...).

Re:3D print a new dash. Remember DIN? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 6 months ago | (#45209567)

Here in the UK, DIN is still a used standard. Walk into an auto parts store, and they will quite happily sell you any number of DIN head units and a mount/adapter kit for your car (if it needs one...).

It is in the US as well. Seems like a non sequitir by GP.

Re:3D print a new dash. Remember DIN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208753)

All the electronics in my '99 Accord are from 1998.

My 2-line Panasonic cordless phone is from 1998, used every day. It's much more robust than today's phones. Answering machine is similar vintage.

My corded phone for use during power outages dates from the '80s. It came in handy this summer for the first 30 hours of a 3-day outage, until the telco's batteries ran out.

My VCR is from 1995, although it is only used very occasionally to copy tapes to disk.

DIN was great. My newer car, purchased 2012, was one of the last to have a standard-sized audio component. They tend to be the first thing to go in many makes of car, so that may come in handy, if the aftermarket can manage to survive.

Re:3D print a new dash. Remember DIN? (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 6 months ago | (#45208781)

"The real pain comes when they integrate things you need, like maintenance calculators and schedules"

Who needs those? One sheet of (gasp) paper in the glove box is enough for many years of maintenance.

Re:3D print a new dash. Remember DIN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209069)

Yeah I imagine that disconnecting parts of your cars computer isn't going to cause any issues. Go ahead yank that out and wait for a check engine light.

Re:3D print a new dash. Remember DIN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208955)

Do you still use .. or even own.. any electronics from 1998?

Yamaha Clavinova CLP-360 from 1990...beat that!

Re:3D print a new dash. Remember DIN? (1)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | about 6 months ago | (#45209077)

I have a cassette adapter that's been closed in doors, run over with the seats, and wrapped around every fixed object in the cab more times than I can remember. I've had it since high school, and originally used it to basically use school boomboxes as a pair of speakers on a school PC streaming CFOX over the internet back in the late 1990s. It's outlasted a 1995 Kia that I should never have gotten rid of, a 2002 Santa Fe that was stolen, the 1977 Fargo Tradesman that replaced it, and has been in my 1999 Malibu for the last 3 years. It's also threatening to outlive the servos in that car's tape deck, given that I bought the car with 97000 miles and it has 200,000 on it now...good thing it doesn't actually need to wind tape to work!

Re:3D print a new dash. Remember DIN? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 6 months ago | (#45209091)

Do you still use .. or even own.. any electronics from 1998

almost all my electronic test gear is earlier than that date.

my oldest is from the 50's (a high end power supply that still beats the pants off of the modern designs). its older than me, in better shape than me (lol) and may well outlive me, truth be told.

but then, things from that long ago were built to last. built to be repaired and maintained. the throw-away (aka 'landfill') generation wasn't even born yet, nor where their parents.

Re:3D print a new dash. Remember DIN? (1)

Alioth (221270) | about 6 months ago | (#45210225)

Yes. I have a 100MHz Tektronix digital storage oscilloscope which is probably from around the mid 1990s, a Phillips function generator with a label proudly marking its last calibration date as being somewhere in 1981, and a Thurlby Thandar logic analyzer that's probably from the late 90s. Clearly these things are lab equipment and not consumery...so... ...my hi-fi I bought new in about 1996 or so. I've seen no reason to change it. The amplifier still amplifies perfectly well and the CD player still works fine (not that I use it a lot - I tend to plug a tablet in these days). I bought my Roland A90 keyboard the day after Lady Di died in that car crash in Paris.

But for car stuff - if I were to buy a new car, all I would want would be a simple Bluetooth interface that allows me to use the audio controls and displays the basic information on what's playing. Satnav I can do with the TomTom app rather than paying stupid money for one built into the car (which is awkward and expensive to keep up to date). I'd even prefer just a simple line in and dumb amplifier rather than all the shite.

Apple (1, Interesting)

NineNine (235196) | about 6 months ago | (#45208701)

It's only a problem with Apple devices. Both Android and Windows devices are generic bluetooth. My Windows Phone (HTX 8X) works wonderfully with my VW, which connects via bluetooth for the phone part, and bluetooth audio for the music part. Works seamlessly. iPhones... not so much. As long as people use devices that conform to generic bluetooth standards, it's not a problem.

Re:Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208845)

It's only a problem with Apple devices. Both Android and Windows devices are generic bluetooth. My Windows Phone (HTX 8X) works wonderfully with my VW, which connects via bluetooth for the phone part, and bluetooth audio for the music part. Works seamlessly. iPhones... not so much. As long as people use devices that conform to generic bluetooth standards, it's not a problem.

Yeah, it sucks how Apple devices don't support generic Bluetooth profiles [apple.com]

Re:Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209175)

OK, that's 7 profiles. Where's SPP? Where are the other 26? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetooth_profile

Re:Apple (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209079)

I think you've hit on the real problem here, and it isn't Apple or any other particular device or VW or any other particular manufacturer. It's that in some vehicles, certain devices work perfectly. In other vehicles, it's certain other devices that work perfectly, or poorly, or not at all.

That's the issue.

Re:Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209111)

Exactly. My Samsung works just fine with my car.

Apple always does its own thing and ignores standards. No news here.

Re:Apple (1)

kallisti (20737) | about 6 months ago | (#45209307)

I happen to have bought a new VW myself, my phone connects via bluetooth for phone use, for media the same connector that is charging my phone also plays music. Works perfectly, full featured. I fail to see what functionality I am missing with the iPhone. I don't consider plugging it in to be a downside.

Re:Apple (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 6 months ago | (#45209325)

Same here with a Nexus 4 and a newer Hyundai. Get it the car, it pairs for music, communication, etc. Works flawlessly so far. As long as both the car and phone manufacturers stick to standards things should work fine.

Perfect market here for Apple, Google, or Microsof (3, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | about 6 months ago | (#45208707)

The way car audio is, not even the dopeheads will try to rip out radios anymore. In a way, this is a lot like the market for phones circa 2006, where there was little improvement other than perhaps a slightly thinner RAZR variant or perhaps a new feature here and there.

A company like Apple, Microsoft or Google could easily announce a product and sweep all the competition aside. If they made a 1 DIN audio head that could handle BT audio (and I mean handle it, not "support" it half-assed), have a good navigation system, and perhaps a 3G/4G antenna built in to autodownload maps via a Whispernet-like network, run some apps, and provide the usual amenities (XM radio, local FM radio, local AM radio, a CD player, USB connection, maybe even a Wi-Fi network using the above mentioned 3G/4G antenna with a subscription.

An audio head made by one of the above companies would utterly change the car audio industry, just like iPhones and Android devices swept out the dumbphones as mainstream devices in just a couple years. In the past one bought an Alpine for the name. Now, most OEM car audio systems are decent enough for most people. So, with the "good enough" reached, there isn't much innovation in this market segment.

Re:Perfect market here for Apple, Google, or Micro (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208825)

Ford Sync is based on Microsoft software, as my F-150 reminds me on the console.

Re:Perfect market here for Apple, Google, or Micro (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209089)

While I agree that it is ripe for the changing, I disagree on how easy it would be.

Owning a car with such a wonder radio (that seems to fall short), and attempting to go down this yellow brick road, I discovered a few things. Basically all the integration of the console with the car functions are non-standard enough to ensure that if I ever ripped out my unit, I would effectively be replacing it with another unit that might do audio much better, but would lack the integration with my steering wheel buttons, air conditioner, backup camera, car maintenance schedule, and all of those little "extras" which act together to ensure that basically my current unit is a very glorified one-off solution.

Re:Perfect market here for Apple, Google, or Micro (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#45209401)

why do you think it would change anything?

because it is not even about good enough. it is about you not going to rip out the integrated solution because it is truly integrated. now a tablet-holder that plugs into audio in(which is usually available nowadays..). that just replaces all that stuf.. that might work.

so that tech company would have to have deals in place with every large car manufacturer...... for exclusive replacement of their projected money maker(yes, car manufacturers are projecting that app payments are going to bring them money in 5-10 years).

Re:Perfect market here for Apple, Google, or Micro (2)

Telvin_3d (855514) | about 6 months ago | (#45209713)

I doubt there is enough market here to be bothered with. For example, Apple has sold about 15 million appleTVs so far. That number is so small that they publicly label it a 'hobby' and actively discourage any real attention on their earnings reports. How big is the after-market car audio market? Has any single unit ever sold 15 million total? A quick Google puts the total value of the car audio industry around 2 billion. Apple's revenue last year was 156 billion. They could capture the entire market and only get a 2% bump. They probably spend more on advertising than the entire car audio industry would net them.

Which is why they are puttering around with the occasional arrangement directly with auto manufacturers. But even that is likely more of a hobby than a serious investment.

Why is there a fee for WiFi hotspot? (1)

enoz (1181117) | about 6 months ago | (#45208737)

Is that a problem with the iPhone or is it the US Carriers being greedy?

Re:Why is there a fee for WiFi hotspot? (5, Funny)

pla (258480) | about 6 months ago | (#45208957)

Is that a problem with the iPhone or is it the US Carriers being greedy?

Yes to both, but more to the point, the problem comes from auto manufacturers not getting the same damned clue the rest of the world figured out 30 years ago - Use cheap commodity parts instead of rolling your own everything, and at least try to hide the fact that you can spy on your customers' every move.

I have a fairly new car, for example. It came with the manufacturer's in-house version of OnStar, which I adamantly refused to let them activate (you should have seen the look of horror on three different levels of the sales food-chain at my refusal - The manufacturer has clearly pushed them hard to get 100% compliance). Except, it just doesn't work that way - The dealership's own techs literally can't clear codes (including the easy ones like "oil change due") on the goddamned thing without processing the order through the manufacturer's website and having it download the change to my car via the built-in cell-enabled TMU module.

So, as a result, it nags me to register it every fucking time I start the car. On the bright side, A friend scored me a copy of the technician manuals for my model, so I had no trouble disabling the cell and GPS features of the TMU (hint: You can't, but you can leave them effectively trapped inside a faraday cage with no way to talk to the outside world). On the down side, the dealer will have no choice (practically, not just contractually) but to reconnect it every time I need even the most minor work done on my car.


"What, you don't want built-in emergency assistance?"
"I have a cell phone"
"The car knows your location and can dispatch EMS right to you"
"So does my phone"
"But your phone won't know if you rolled over and died in a ditch!"
"I won't really care, then, will I?"

Re:Why is there a fee for WiFi hotspot? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209193)

Inquiring minds want to know, which vehicle brand?

The more I read and hear about all the new "high tech" features packed into modern cars, the more I desire a vehicle prior to 1970.

Re:Why is there a fee for WiFi hotspot? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#45209925)

Care to inform us what car so that others may learn from your mistake and avoid that brand?

QNX Car 2.0 (3, Interesting)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 6 months ago | (#45208749)

I really like where QNX [qnx.com] is heading. [youtu.be]

Re:QNX Car 2.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208883)

Until you scroll done the page and see Blackberry. Anybody want to buy QNX and save them?

Re:QNX Car 2.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209191)

QNX is awful. I would never buy a system built around it.

Better to just have docking space for BYO device.

Re:QNX Car 2.0 (1)

cbope (130292) | about 6 months ago | (#45210233)

Oh, and what OS is running in the device that you connect your BYO to? Surely, you don't think that's an analog connection these days...

I was pissy on the article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208767)

Then I couldn't read the bullshit captcha, and failed to be human. Then I lost everything I typed. Now the world can not benefit from all thatI shared.

Standard form-factors like aftermarket audio. (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 6 months ago | (#45208769)

Since autos last decades but computers are junk in a few years, do as with audio components and have a standard form-factor to facilitate swaps.

Not likely given automaker desire for vendor lock.

Re:Standard form-factors like aftermarket audio. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209107)

Would be even better if the back end of the stereo had a standard set of connectors so you really could just pull the stereo and slide in a new one.

Re:Standard form-factors like aftermarket audio. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45210063)

They exist. The hole is a DIN standard, and the connector is ISO. Most car manufacturers USED TO stick to the DIN hole, but usually needed an adaptor for the ISO connector - but at least this was a one time expense (per car), the next radios ISO connectors match the same adaptor.

The connector location is not standard, though, so you still need to unplug/replug, not like a HDD hot swap enclosure.

Recently there has been a trend to go proprietary, though, integrating the cars management systems with the radio. So, when your car is 20 years old, and you are stuck with the radio that does MP3 and bluetooth today, MP3 and bluetooth will be as modern by then, as AM and casette tape is today.

My car is from 1991, and on at least its 3rd radio. The original one played casette tapes. The previous owner replaced that with one that played CDs. I had that one replaced with one that plays MP3 from SD cards, and has built in bluetooth hands free.

?? Hyundai Elantra does BT pairing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208775)

Why is this hard? I didn't even think about this while buying my latest car. Glad I lucked out, I guess.

Though from a security standpoint it sucks, Elantras apparently have a hardcoded pairing code of '0000'... :p

Forget it (3, Interesting)

brillow (917507) | about 6 months ago | (#45208777)

All they need is a phone/tablet dock. Paying extra for an infotainment system is dumb. All I need is power and audio connections for my phone/tablet. All the car need provide is speakers and microphone and maybe some steering wheel buttons which can control some phone functions.

Re: Forget it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209475)

Because there is a standard form factor for docks...right?

uhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208795)

fucking around with your "smartphone" while driving is a pretty DUMB idea.

VNC / RDP / HDX / etc (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208797)

I would kill for a remote display protocol on my car's GPS unit that would just show the display of the phone and accept touch input... My phone already has a fantastic UI, tons of great apps (many of which are perfectly applicable to driving situations), built-in GPS, touch based input, etc.

But even though I have excellent Bluetooth support, I still cannot "thumbs down" a song on Pandora without pulling my phone out of my pocket. I can't "skip back 30 seconds" on Audible. I can't use my phone's map app (100x better than the car's GPS app, and always up to date), on the larger and more visible car GPS screen.

Just let me see & interact with my phone screen, but on my car's screen. Is that so hard??? :(

Re: VNC / RDP / HDX / etc (1)

robmv (855035) | about 6 months ago | (#45209035)

See MirrorLink, VNC is used for screen mirroring over an standard IP connection

Re:VNC / RDP / HDX / etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209119)

VNC sounds great until you realize that it is very bandwith unfriendly. Over bluetooth, I would expect it to be very uncomfortable to use. RDP basically works well due to assuming the same windowing system (Windows) on both ends. That cuts out 60% of the cell phone market (Android), and 22% of the market (Apple) and a remaining 10% of Symbian users (leaving only that microscopic share of Windows phones (sub 10%) with a chance of working. I don't know about HDX, but I do know that all of these solutions assume you are connecting a nearly full featured computer to another, where in a car scenario it's more like connecting a full featured computer to an embedded system. Perhaps that embedded system should be a full featured computer, but today it isn't so.

Car companies don't do the tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208887)

Please, you can buy a bluetooth linking stereo aftermarket style with led video and hard drive for less than 200$
Car companies these days do not manufacture their stereos. They have a contract parts company do it for a price. Their suppliers did not get the requirement for the bluetooth link because the Project manager calculated some benefit or got drunk and didn't fully review the requirements they needed in the stereo for customers to purchase the vehicle. Its too late in the model year to care about this because replacement of the existing set of stereos for ones that will be designed with this option outweigh the sales benefits.

linux/android it. not hard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45208919)

linux of android. fixed. ota updates, or make it cyanogen, aokp, ubuntu compatible. work with a software company or organization. easy solution. give a million bucks to cannonical to make a car interface for ubuntu for phones for cars. unload all responsibility and make it better. frankly i dont trust the creator of the cavalier to write good software :) or the camry or whatever.

Mirrorlink (1)

robmv (855035) | about 6 months ago | (#45208989)

Forget about adding complex UI software to a car, give me MirrorLink and some standard car APIs over that link, or ssomethin. You car manufacturers don't know about user and internet facing better

Lonely... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209005)

Am i the only one that doesn't want all this electronic computer crap in my CAR?

Cars last decades. Electronics and computer related stuff doesn't

"There's a fee for that" (1)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 6 months ago | (#45209073)

Is this referring to asshole carriers that charge extra to not disable the "feature" of network routing software in a device that you own?

That's like your ISP charging you extra to use a router. Rent-seeking horseshit.

what will happen with auto drive cars last 1-2 yea (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 6 months ago | (#45209209)

what will happen with auto drive cars last 1-2 years before they stop getting updates and soon after that can't drive on some roads / areas? End up in crash due to a software bug that is fixed in new cars out at the time?

its quite simple (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 6 months ago | (#45209271)

you upgrade your phone every 1-2 years, you upgrade your car 4-5 years if you dont value your money

so yea, look into the future ball and see what android 6, or iOSX is going to have that faddy week they come out and future proof it for another 3 years past that

This is not a problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209295)

The problem comes when the shit starts working well enough to
distract the idiot who is irresponsible enough to use electronics
while driving.

Say infotainment again, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209377)

I dare you! I DOUBLE dare you mofo!

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209497)

Car infotainment, who cares?

Mirror your phones screen and touch inputs onto the dashboard via bluetooth and screw the rest. Let Google and Apple update their stuff, trying to build an entirely separate Android and chipsets and etc. for cars is useless.

VW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209605)

My wife and I have VW's and they've offered Bluetooth for media use on both our models (Tiguan and Jetta); works great. I personally wouldn't want a full on infotainment system; pairing is just fine.

Aftermarket Works Better (1)

rhook (943951) | about 6 months ago | (#45209691)

And there's no subscription fees for using the apps. Pioneer makes some real nice decks that cost about the same as upgrading the OEM deck to the app enabled model.

Scion IQ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45209745)

I have a 2012 Scion IQ which was made in Japan and shipped to Canada. Now you would think it would have the latest phone and bluetooth function, but it does not. You can't use the USB plug in the car to recharge your Blackberry. The plug only works with an old ipod. Any you can't change the volume on an bluetooth audio stream like streaming DI through your phone to the stereo. You have to make the firmware easy to flash like tesla. :)

infotainment wtf? (1)

hooiberg (1789158) | about 6 months ago | (#45209783)

When a car has an... as you say... infotainment system, that would be enough reason for me *not* to buy it, even all the rest was according to my wishes. I, too, hav my standards, you know. There is already enough distraction nonsense in cars.

Good luck getting firmware updates in the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45210113)

How many android smartphones still receive firmware updates two years after introduction? Not many, and that is a smartphone with many millions sold globally. After the one year after introduction and its successors are in production most handset manufacturers abandon their product and don't even apply security updates anymore. If your smartphone can only run gingerbread, even Google has abandoned you and won't release bug fixes or security updates.

I doubt an automaker would do any better, and an automobile has a lifetime of at least a decade. The infotainment system unlike the engine control module isn't a critical component covered by a 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty, so if there's a bug there is no compelling reason for them to fix it. 5 years from now, if your smartphone won't work with it and you take it to the dealer, the dealer is simply going to tell you to buy a new car. Meanwhile whatever apps installed on your car already ceased getting any updates 2 years ago. It is a similar situation with smart TVs and DVD players except its with something you spent $25,000 dollars on.

Bluetooth pairing coming soon?!? (1)

cbope (130292) | about 6 months ago | (#45210319)

Wow, Toyota is going to "allow" bluetooth pairing in next year's models? Welcome to 2005 Toyota! This is 2013, right?

I've had no pairing issues in my 2013 Audi with the MMI system. It works flawlessly with my Lumia over bluetooth. It even detects changes in contacts on my phone re-syncs it with the MMI system whenever the car is started. Using MMI I can also access placed and missed calls, my voice mailbox, etc. Call transfers and multi-party calls also work.

What's this "fee" for using your phone as a hotspot? Oh right... US carriers. Carry on...

Re:Bluetooth pairing coming soon?!? (1)

cbope (130292) | about 6 months ago | (#45210369)

Seeing all the comments on "infotainment" systems, I'd like to add that MMI is much more than that. Many of the car's systems are controlled/customized through MMI, including steering and throttle response, suspension settings, interior and exterior lighting systems, service intervals, GPS navigation, etc.

bahaj (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45210343)

Yes, it's a problem

works on Ford SYNC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45210413)

Man I didn't think the windows ce automotive with flash-lite shit that fail of a company BSQUARE that actually did most of the dev would ever be out-failed.

But hey I can play and control my bluetooth stereo with my evo 4g LTE (android) pretty darn reliably these days and most of the problems seem to be on android's side...

Why make it hard? (1)

TarpaKungs (466496) | about 6 months ago | (#45210429)

And yet the 1V PP audio line input on my wife's MINI follows the same interface spec as my father's valve amplifier input he made from a magazine article in the 1950's.

Sometimes, simpler is just better. Period.

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