When I say “smart cars”, I am referring to cars that have applications and can connect to the Internet (like smartphones). The two big, upcoming platforms for this are Google’s Android Auto & Apple’s Car Play, with most of the popular manufacturers (including Ford, Volkswagen, Audi & Nissan) supporting both. Here’s why I totally need that…
Both will work by including the software in your smartphone, so when you connect your device (via a cable for now) it can talk to your car and essentially beam all the information across. As you may well know, I’m a Google guy so I have (and will probably still have) an Android smartphone and therefore, I’ll be using Android Auto. (Don’t worry, I’ll support your preferences too, Apple fans).
The biggest feature I’m looking forward to is the voice-activated stuff. I did a lot of driving in the past week (Suffolk – Nottingham – Leeds – Nottingham – Surrey – Suffolk, if you were wondering), so I spent at least 13 hours behind the wheel. That sparked two problems for me. First, as I had a lot of thinking time, I began to wonder serious questions like “Oh crap. When’s Mothers day?”, “Where will I park in Leeds?” and “Is 80mph really illegal if everybody does it?”. Then I remember things like “I need to buy Dad’s birthday card” and “I should edit that video later” etc. I cannot wait to just shout out “OK Google, remind me to edit that video later” and it’ll just work. That’s that. Now I don’t have to worry about forgetting. Or I can shout out a question and have my answers delivered instantly. Oh, the satisfaction that would bring!
Second issue, music. Now, I drive a 2002 Vauxhall Corsa. It has a cassette player. Need I say anymore? I’ve worked out a way to plug my phone in and transmit it’s sound via FM to pick it up on my car radio. However, that means if a bad song comes on I either have to suck it up or I have to pick the phone up and change it. Instant no-no. That risks a fine, an accident, potentially death and I’m bound to hit the wrong button with my decreased accuracy and close my music app all together. Oh, and I’m fed up of radio. In the smart car: “OK Google, play next track”. “OK Google, play ‘Disclosure'”. “OK Google, play ‘I’m Every Woman'”. Sorted.
I won’t even mention what happens when I want to Shazam something…
Satellite navigation and digital maps have been in cars for years, but as useful as my TomTom sat-nav is, I don’t think it quite compares to Google Maps. Google is omniscient; it knows everything about me because all my emails, calendar, Internet history etc is stored on it’s servers, it also knows everything about everything that’s around me. Google will know when I get in the car on Monday morning I need traffic updates to college, Google will know when I have a holiday I want directions to the airport, Google will know when I have something planned I need directions & traffic updates to that place. So, without having to enter the destination Google will automagically do just that. Plus, Google Maps is the best out there. It will know where all the car parks, petrol stations and food places are should you ever need them. It even tells you which lane to be in, which tends to be a problem for me (and many others, I don’t doubt) in foreign places.
Then of course, there’s the third-party apps to access all my news updates, social media, third-party media services etc. Should I choose to have constant updates, I can. Or, I can silence them all too. Maybe one day the GoPro app will even come to the auto-operating-systems and you’d have a live stream of footage from your external camera. I’d be down for that. It’s already a thing for BMWs. There’s huge potential for app innovation in this area, especially when manufacturers, big-techies, awesome start-ups, insurers and everyday businesses all work together. Now let’s watch it grow.
So that’s smart cars, but what about driverless cars? Read my driverless cars blog here.