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The automobile is the most interesting new smartphone accessory

There have always been interesting and innovative technology in automobiles. It only makes sense that the newest technology debuts in luxury vehicles.

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  • The first windshield wipers in a production car went into the Chrysler Imperial.
  • The modern seat belt was first used in a Volvo.
  • Mercedes was first to anti-lock brakes.

…And on it goes.

To the extent that past is prologue, it’s happening again. Luxury cars are getting the treatment once more. This time it is not about safety or comfort but entertainment.

As brilliant as auto makers have been about so many things over the years, they have proven to be awful at the computer bits, especially the user-facing bits. The center console has been a lamentable mess for quite some time. With broken displays, disc errors, broken joystick knobs, and other issues with the navigation and audio systems leaving car owners scrambling to find a service like Short Circuit Repair to help with their factory car navigation repair needs (as these things seem to always happen right after the end of the warranty) it seems there is little evidence of new innovation. So, what is new and actually innovative in the world of automobile tech?

Answer: Smartphone Integration.

This is not the jack for a mini plug, a USB port, an iPod Dock connector, or the attempts to create usable touch screen experiences for the center console. This is actual connection of your smartphones software with your dashboard system. Some of the more promising and exciting components of this include …

QNX Component

The QNX component has been in cars for years, and you probably never heard of it. This is the application platform which provides the tools to build the automotive infotainment systems.

Developments over the years in this platform has given us what we are starting to see commonplace in many recent cars such as the ability to dock an iPhone or iPod. This is the application which can handle your Microsoft Windows audio codecs or to provide the platform with a Linux host.

Surprisingly enough this software is owned by Warterloo’s Blackberry. Though their flagship phone may have been taking a dive in recent years the company is pushing forward with this entry into the automotive World. The reason why you’re seeing this become commonplace is that it’s less expensive as opposed to using a Microsoft product.

A Microsoft product like …

SYNC (Microsoft)

Ford took a major swing and a miss with SYNC. It seems partnering with Microsoft for such a forward-looking innovation was probably not the best of ideas. But the problem was not with the idea behind SYNC. That was brilliant. It was all about execution and, well, Microsoft. Now, luxury car makers are set to give it a try, this time with a new partner: Apple.

CarPlay (Apple)

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Apple CarPlay Mercedes

Last year, Apple started talking up something they called iOS in the car. Today, it is called CarPlay

, and it is headed for luxury cars. Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Ferrari have already shown implementations of the new technology, with others to follow later in the year. CarPlay is a new kind of entertainment system. Instead of relying on the manufacturers to come up with the interface and services, Apple is allowing them to use the services directly from an iPhone. Connect the iPhone via a Lightning cable, and the center console becomes a window into the iPhone. It even has Siri integration. QNX is the connective tissue between the iPhone and the auto.

Though Apple is out in front on this new type of car entertainment system, the other usual suspects are not too far behind. Expect similar systems for Google’s Android in the next few months. Microsoft is also revamping their efforts to offer something more in line with CarPlays winning formula. At least, it seems to be a winning formula since everyone is rushing to put out their own version of the offering.

A Brave New World for Auto

The future we can expect will be remarkable. The U.S. is well-known for its love for the car culture and by pairing robust interactive entertainment features through these technologies we will certainly find a greater love for our automobiles.

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