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Apple's 'iOS in the Car' will be top car infotainment system by 2018

Lucas Mearian | Nov. 4, 2013
Survey finds most drivers hate their informatics systems today, but experts say big improvements on the way

While many available technologies can be used to integrate a smartphone with a car's head unit (the computer brains of the IVI), they have been added to few vehicles to date.

Along with MirrorLink, mobile linking technologies include proprietary software such as RealVNC, Abalto Technologies' WebLink, and iOS in the Car.

There are also UI screen replication technologies such as Miracast and MHL which are ideally suited for high bandwidth applications such as video streaming to rear-seat entertainment displays. Such technologies could in the future be used by MirrorLink, RealVNC and the like.

Failure to launch

Automakers to date, though, are well behind the mobile device market in IVI capabilities.

This week, Consumer Reports released its annual Auto Reliability Rankings, and and in-car electronics including navigation, audio and communication systems topped the list of complaints for 2013 model vehicles.

In many cases, the report revealed touch-screen infotainment systems have been buggy, had frustrating screen freezes, a touch-control lag, and in some cases a reluctance to recognize a cell-phone, an MP3 device, or a voice command.

"The category that includes in-car electronics generated significantly more complaints than any of the 17 categories of problem areas in the survey. Complaints include issues with screen freezes, touch-control lag, voice recognition malfunctions and compatibility problems with cellphones and MP3 devices," Consumer Reports said in a statement.

American vehicles lead the pack in low infotainment system rankings. Of 34 Ford and Lincoln models in the survey, two-thirds were ranked "much worse than average," the lowest rating available.

Ford automobiles use the MyFord IVI and Lincoln uses the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system.

Meanwhile, Mark Boyadjis, a senior analyst for infotainment systems at IHS Automotive, describes Toyota's EnTunes IVI as "inconsistent" at best.

Part of the problem is that automakers such as Ford and Toyota, the first and second automakers to use IVIs, also offered few amenities because the early immaturity of the technology, Boyadjis said. Also, he noted, the vehicle development lifecycle is typically four years long, so when a 2013 car rolls off the assembly line, it generally sports 2009 technology.

"The biggest problem is when [IVIs] hit the market on a major level, it was around the same time consumers started having smartphones and tablets in their pockets as well. Inherently, the operation and speed of those mobile devices is going to be better," Boyuadjis said.

"[Automakers] found themselves having to offer [IVI] for competitive reasons to seem technologically advanced, but any of these automakers would find themselves hard pressed to keep up with consumer electronic trends," he said.

A successful industry effort to standardize IVI systems on open source software could push the IVI market forward by leaps and bounds, some experts say.


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