English: BMW 750Li photographed by Paul Tan in...

Potholes In The Street To Cellphone / Vehicle Integration

Mobile phone/automobile integration is a huge source of value for consumers: it brings collectively the essential life-changing consumer technologies of the 20th and 21st centuries. The auto companies manufactured big noises at CES this 12 months (a lot more). And Apple Apple lately previewed CarPlay, which puts iOS into the automobile. But, when you dig into the specifics of the existing state of cellphone/vehicle integration, it resembles Boston roads in March.

I hit a single of those potholes when I occurred to purchase a new auto final month, a BMW, and attempted diligently to make it operate with my new-ish cellphone, a Samsung Galaxy s4. BMW had it’s new i3 electrical car in the Samsung booth at CES. You’d consider that would suggest that their automobiles would do the fundamentals with Samsung’s flagship phone: the Galaxy s4. Never ever presume …

The phone and the automobile are supposed to do at least 3 items collectively:

  1. Utilizing the Bluetooth hands-cost-free profile*, the auto must act as a headset and allow hands-free of charge use of the telephone. In areas with hand-free of charge laws, this is vital. It has a number of sub-elements. The simple ones are connecting the audio to the car’s speakers and microphone and making use of the steering wheel buttons to begin and end calls. The complex one is transferring a subset of the phone’s handle guide to the vehicle so that car’s software can search for contacts.
  2. The vehicle should be ready to play media streamed from the telephone using the Bluetooth “media” profile*, so I can use streaming audio apps like Pandora and Stitcher in the car.
  3. Ideally, the automobile must pull the major functionality of the app interface from the smart mobile phone app up into the car’s handle show, so that I can use the app in the car with highest perform and security.

In my latest expertise, none of these items are totally working.

English: BMW 750Li photographed by Paul Tan in...

Correct smartphone integration has a approaches to go. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Headset profile worked wonderful with 4 earlier phones and 2 vehicles, till Samsung partly broke it. The Samsung Galaxy cellphone, which reworks key elements of the Android user interface, can make it not possible to import a subset of my contacts. In excess of the final 8 many years I’ve had a Blackberry, an iPhone, and 2 Google Google Nexus phones manufactured by HTC HTC and Samsung, all of which presented this subset characteristic. With the Galaxy cellphone all ~3,000 contacts have to transfer to the car. This will take a couple of minutes each and every time I start off the automobile, throughout which time I cannot access the car’s phone guide, and it tends to make seeking for a speak to challenging because the checklist is very lengthy and voice recognition is far more most likely to select the wrong speak to.

Streaming by means of “media” profile practically works, except for a bug that brings about drops and squeaks at random intervals. BMW USA’s site acknowledges this problem with Samsung Galaxy phones, and it indicates the problem does not take place with several other intelligent phones. The internet forums report that Galaxy phones have the exact same problem with a lot of other cars and usually blame Samsung’s Bluetooth implementation (e.g.). I’m hoping [not to be confused with “hopeful”] that this will get fixed by the upcoming Android 4.4 update. C’mon, Samsung, “What we have right here is a failure to communicate …”

And in-dash integration of phone apps has a prolonged way to go. BMW gives “ConnectedDrive” for iOS and Android, which is its platform for pulling the consumer interface of smartphone apps into the car’s manage display. But ConnectedDrive does not do a lot for me. The Android model brings onto the car’s display your calendar entries, information, data about close by factors of interest, and Twitter and Facebook posts. These apps are all primarily based on text details, and I desire to not interact with text in the vehicle (it is towards the law), even if a robot reads it to me. Plus there is the “Last Mile” app that invokes Google Maps to get you from the auto to your ultimate destination that does not add significantly value to Google Maps by itself.

The gaping hole is help for the major music and audio news apps: Pandora, Stitcher, Spotify, SoundCloud, NPR, CNN, etc. After all, listening to streaming audio (fka “radio”) is what people have been carrying out in autos since WW II. The BMW net website signifies that several of these apps are offered for the iOS version of ConnectedDrive. This is not surprising, I suppose, but disappointing, as the substantial-end auto OEMs have been speaking about in-dash integration of smart phone apps for 5+ now and Android is the foremost smartphone OS. The speed of merchandise development looks more like that of autos (4-6 many years) than mobile apps (4-6 months).

Apple’s CarPlay excites me simply because it offers a basic resolution to this dilemma: CarPlay puts the mobile OS into the automobile, which guarantees tight integration with the smartphone plus the top quality of UX layout we count on from Apple. And, the work essential to make every single app operate in the vehicle will probably be a lot significantly less, or even zero, versus the present BMW architecture that demands an app to be developed for the auto that talks to every single corresponding app in the cellphone. That is why so few apps are supported.

A lot more crucial, making the automobile part of the iOS ecosystem will unleash the creativity of entrepreneurs and app developers to find new techniques to add value to the iOS/automotive platform. Don’;t forget the heady days of 2008-2009 when Apple opened up the iPhone and a flood of imaginative apps, not a couple of of them fantastic, came forth? This is the most significant strategic win from generating the smartphone OS native to the automobile. CarPlay also creates benefit for Apple versus Samsung, since Apple rewards by extending its ecosystem, while Samsung has no OS computer software play.

The auto OEMs appear to be purchasing this: Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz and Volvo all announced that they’d start shipping CarPlay-enabled autos this week. Later in 2014, CarPlay expands to incorporate Honda, Hyundai and Jaguar, and eventually BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Kia, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot-Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota. That is every person that issues except Volkswagen (supply).

Google is also in this hunt, but appears a bit behind. Techcrunch reviews that “Google is also operating on a automobile platform similar to CarPlay. Following rumors, in early January Google confirmed it had formed the Open Automotive Alliance with Audi*, General Motors, Hyundai, Honda and chip-maker NVIDIA — all CarPlay partners in addition to Audi and Nvidia. Specific specifics are nevertheless nonexistent but a current Daimler work posting states that it aims to “seamlessly integrate” Android with a car’s head unit.” And my expertise says Samsung is just not paying focus.

So there is hope for end users here, despite the fact that we will require to switch to iPhone to get the greatest user encounter. I’m anxious that OS politics will rear its unsightly head: possibly Mercedes offers preference to Apple and Volkswagen offers preference to Android? But the important bridge has been crossed: the automobile OEMs are moving forward with a method of supporting the dominant mobile OS’s natively in the vehicle, and steering clear of rolling their very own. Hopefully someday my BMW will be “the greatest connected driving machine.”


*A bluetooth profile is a specification for how a Bluetooth-enabled gadget this kind of as a smartphone interacts with another Bluetooth-enabled gadget this kind of as a auto to provide a particular class of support. The “media” profile is technically referred to as the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP): far more.

** Audi is the prestige car division of Volkswagen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *