What’s Next in Audio for your Car?
Apple and Android are leading push to get systems that combine audio functions with vehicle information into cars from the world’s largest automakers….
Over the next few years, it’s reasonable to expect that any new car or truck you might buy will come equipped with one of two infotainment systems: Apple or Android.An infotainment system is the successor to the car stereo a system that combines audio entertainment functions with vehicle information.Like the phones most of us carry in our pockets, the majority of vehicle infotainment systems now tap into either of the two brands of smartphone technology, and sometimes both.
Both Apple Car Play and Android Auto allow users to project smartphone applications onto a vehicles dash-mounted infotainment screen, making it unnecessary to balance the phone on the steering column or clamp it in an unwieldy windshield suction cup mount. The idea is to reduce driver distraction by integrating smartphone functions into the cars controls while disabling certain features while the car is in motion.
Among the worlds largest automakers, Toyota stands alone in that its electronics support neither Apple Car Play nor Android Auto. That may sound strange, but in doing so, explains Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, the worlds number one automaker has held onto its independence.
Toyota wants to maintain control of its user interface and customer information by developing its own connected car interface, he told the Guardian. Most others have surrendered to the appeal and effectiveness of using outside systems, which puts Toyota at a disadvantage.
Among manufacturers selling vehicles in the US, Apples product will be available in certain models built by Audi, Ferrari, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Volkswagen and Volvo.
Android Auto will serve some of those brands and Kia but not Ferrari, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi or Porsche. Subaru is notably absent from both lists, but it is also much smaller than most of the other companies.
At issue, Brauer says, is consumers preference for a seamless transition between their phones and their cars, something Apple Car Play and Android Auto are able to provide.
Toyota will be hard pressed to match those features, at least in the near term, although eventually it could develop interfaces as intuitive as Apple’s and Google’s.
Perhaps now that infotainment technology has reached such a level, the days of auto company executives bemoaning millennials collective disinterest in the car-owning experience will come to an end. Automakers seem to have embraced that generations love of all things smartphone and are doing everything they can to integrate mobile technology with actual mobility in other words, driving.
At the North American International Auto Show press preview, held in Detroit this week, Ford Motor Company introduced a new high performance pickup. But executives from Americas number two automaker had much more to say about Ford Pass, the smart mobility service CEO Mark Fields said he hoped would make Ford a serious player in mobility services.
What does that mean? Ford wants to expand its business into ride and car sharing. Fields said that although Ford had a 4% share of an auto sales business worth more than $2tn, the company has designs on tapping into a mobility services market he says is worth $5.3tFord Pass is scheduled to commence in April as a subscription-based service for both Ford owners and people who have never even thought of driving a Ford.
Fields flanked onstage by Bill Ford Jr, the company’s executive chairman and, for some reason, TV personality Ryan Seacrest said Ford Pass was the automakers attempt to reimagine the customer experience by creating more interactions with customers and thereby improving customer feedback.
Its similar to GMs OnStar, but offers a much wider spectrum of services over a broader range of needs, Brauer said. Its a strong sign of Fords desire to be more than just a car company, as well as the automakers willingness to explore new options and business models.