Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Car infotainment

Starting from basic cars to most advanced cars, the car infotainment sucks. I cannot get a better word to describe my frustration. 

The first thing I would look in any car is the little box which sits in the middle of the front of the car. How good is this box, how much it costs and what all it can do?

The more expensive the car is this box gets bigger, brighter and costlier. For each one of the add-ons, we have to cough 100s to 1000s of Pounds, when the same features are available on any smart phone (including iPhones) are free.

My good old Toyota shows outside temperature, shows how many more miles are remaining before my car runs out of petrol, plays radio and CDs. I had to change the music player as it would not play MP3 files. I spent about £80 to get a new car stereo system, which can now play MP3 CDs, FM radio. I can plug in my phone and play music or speak to people. I can also put a USB pen drive to play music. 

Then  came expensive BMW series 3. The infotainment system, I expected, to be very good, given the price of the car. But no, I was wrong. The sat nav stops after 4 letters of post codes, after which I have to search the street. It cannot display full UK post code to drive! What is the point in having a sat nav which cannot understand the full post code? I cannot upgrade the maps too.

It plays CDs and radio. I can connect my phone with 3.5 jack to play music. I can use Bluetooth to call people. But I cannot connect Bluetooth to play my music. The sound system is good, but the equalizer if pathetic. 

Car sensors are good, but not the best.

Recently, I had a chance to go through my friend's expensive Benz. Again, the same problem. It cannot play music through Bluetooth. The whole UI is cluttered. It too sucks. 

The car industry is seriously lagging behind when it comes to infotainment. It needs radical change. 

What is the solution? 

Very very simple and very very cost effective. Take Android OS and modify for the car. Sell the car with Android infotainment, which syncs with the phone of the owner. Apple can also do the same trick, only if Apple allows the car companies to modify their iOS. Windows can do that too.

Currently the only open soft ware which is very advanced is Android and this can help the car industry to come up with the best infotainment. 

When I am changing my car, I would love to have Android infotainment board which allows me to sync my apps and music files with my car. The car can happily tether the 3G netweork from my phone. 

Car industry has to shake up with this. Small and cheap cars would greatly benefit from this change, where as the bigger companies can provide better services. Bigger car companies can negotiate with Apple Inc to have iOs on their infotainment for a premium price. And I am sure the Apple fanboys are going to love it. 

Wake up car industry!


  1. install an iPad with Simcard , fix it in car and invest in great set of speakers and amps... Thats the best option as of now ...
    Or Build a mini PC yourself , Lots of DIY stuff on Net.

    I use Alpine Car audio, with Rockford Spkrs, works wonders, All stock car audios suck, except AUDI. I recommend Alpine !!

    1. Thanks for the comments. Fixing phone is not a solution. We need to have an inbuilt car infotainment which is in line with current smart phones.