The In-Car Infotainment System Is On Its Deathbed


Maybe Google and Apple can take over for a bit.

By now, smartphone technology has evolved to the point that the two most prominent competing software systems have relatively similar means of operation. For the most part, things run smoothly and nobody complains. On the other hand, automakers have gotten it all wrong when it comes to software used inside of the car. Cumbersome input methods cause distractions and after being pampered with our easy to use smartphones, the in-car infotainment system just seems dated.

Instead, many drivers end up using their phones to navigate or to play music, which is more distracting despite the convenience. Apple and Android have launched competing alternatives to enable drivers to use their software, but Google has just released an update to make its Android software even easier to use. At Google’s I/O conference, the company announced that it's updating the software to be usable even in cars that do not feature Android Auto connectivity, by allowing drivers to use the phone screen. Most importantly, accessing apps like Waze or sending a message will be made simple with voice commands. Users need only to say “Ok Google” instead of pressing a button on the dashboard or the phone in order to get the system running.

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In Wi-Fi equipped cars, Android Auto will also display the interface on other phones in the car, making song changes easy. Google is also integrating Waze maps in the system since it recognizes that some drivers like to use it to find speed traps instead of the traditional Google Maps. Most importantly, Google has opened up the software to give automakers the room to add their own apps to the service. Honda and Hyundai have already jumped in by offering apps that allow for vehicle features to be accessed within the app. Given that automakers haven’t managed to make intelligent infotainment systems, maybe it’s time for the software gurus to take over and give it a shot.