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The future of Cars, and could Apple be involved?


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The future of Cars, and could Apple be involved?
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Wrao
Yarp
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Road Warrior
 
2012-02-25, 18:31

Google made some headlines last year with their driverless car project that successfully navigated across the country. Microsoft's SYNC system has become a major selling point for Ford. iPod integration is a de facto standard for many new vehicles. Increasingly, "technology" is being used to sell cars and increasingly cars are starting to take on characteristics that we might otherwise find in the Personal Computer world. At this point in time, it doesn't seem too unreasonable that we won't continue to see these trends developed until you basically have a car that is outright running an OS. Google has made no bones about wanting Android to be on as many 'devices' as possible. Microsoft seems equally eager to put Windows 8 on as many different 'screens' as possible. I'm wondering if we won't eventually see "The Google Car, powered by Android, built by Hyundai(or whoever)" or "Windows 8 for Ford Focus", and if that does become the case, do you think that Apple might also throw in? Doesn't seem like something Apple would want to do unless they could control the design and branding of the vehicle, but having Apple becoming a car company seems very unlikely.

I recognize it is a bit of a stretch, and a lot of things would need to happen first. But I think a lot of the raw technology is there at this point, and with driverless cars, next-gen electric* and hybrid cars, increasingly widespread internet availability...etc. Seems like a fairly logical place for the 900lbs gorillas of Computer Technology to get involved.

Thoughts?


*Note, I am well aware of the hurdles involving electric vehicles and I'm not trying to pretend that they will magically start making sense in their current implementations, but if the car becomes redefined overall, I can't rule out the place of electric motors here.
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drewprops
Bastard
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Atlanta
 
2012-02-25, 18:42

A friend whose Dad is a mechanic likes to point out how vulnerable and dangerous cars have become with regard to their reliance on embedded systems. Imagine how that danger might increase if the OS is popular and hackable


...

Steve Jobs ate my cat's watermelon.
Captain Drew on Twitter
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Ryan
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Promise Land of Trustafarians
 
2012-02-25, 19:43

Quote:
Originally Posted by drewprops View Post
A friend whose Dad is a mechanic likes to point out how vulnerable and dangerous cars have become with regard to their reliance on embedded systems. Imagine how that danger might increase if the OS is popular and hackable


...
My understanding of Sync is that it doesn't actually do anything critical. Perhaps I'm remembering incorrectly, but essential functions are all handled by a separate embedded machine running off a ROM. The worst someone could do is make your car rick-roll you forever.
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chucker
 
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2012-02-25, 19:50

Correct. While critical car systems, too, increasingly rely on computers, the entertainment system that's being talked about here is entirely separate.
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Robo
Formerly Roboman, still
awesome
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Portland, OR
 
2012-02-25, 20:40

The odd capitalization in the thread title made me think this was about the Pixar films.
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drewprops
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Atlanta
 
2012-02-25, 21:42

Then it had BETTER include Thunderbang ports and have a built-in dock for my phone, and the port should be hot swappable for different models, including Android. If I were a car manufacturer I would insist that the platform be neutral to other devices. I would hate to lose a sale because the buyer couldn't hook their tech to my product!

(meaning no Thunderbolt unless it's widely adopted)
...
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chucker
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2012-02-26, 02:48

But plenty of cars with USB exist…
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drewprops
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Atlanta
 
2012-02-26, 09:34

I know.

I was in a hospital emergency room waiting for someone when I tapped that out. I was trying to be playful and was considering issues that automakers have no doubt already mapped out : a car's OS shouldn't be deeply tied to a consumer platform.

I haven't experienced Microsoft's SYNC in person, but expect that it's device neutral. I'd like to see it, and I'm intrigued by the idea of Apple entering the field.

Better?



...
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Xaqtly
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2012-03-01, 11:55

Here's a timely rumor: Apple working on an iCar?

Key section:

Quote:
human resource companies affiliated with the technology giant have been scouring the virtual pages of the networking website Linkedin for engineers experienced in the automotive field.
That sounds to me like Apple is looking to get involved in in-car infotainment, not actually building their own car.
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Wrao
Yarp
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Road Warrior
 
2012-03-02, 18:32

Yeah, that is timely. I don't really think Apple or any other computer-tech company would go so far as to build their own car exactly. But at the same time, I do wonder if increased computer integration overall doesn't start to blur the boundaries a little bit and if we won't ever see a car that is built by whichever car company but is heavily branded(badges etc) with a computer company, or at its most extreme, if a computer company won't in some way get involved in influencing the design.
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Xaqtly
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Join Date: May 2004
 
2012-03-02, 19:11

Yeah, good point - there was a time when I never thought in a million years that Apple would be making a cell phone. I can't even wrap my head around the idea of Apple getting into the car making business, but... as much as I hate to say it, after thinking about it some more, it makes sense. What has Apple's philosophy been all along, from the very beginning? When you make the entire widget, you have full control over the user experience.

Can you imagine a car built by Apple? And I don't mean the easy jokes about an Apple car only being able to run on Apple-owned roads, I'm talking about Apple's ruthless attention to detail and drive towards perfection. Ergonomically speaking, Apple has the potential to make the best looking and best-functioning car interior we've ever seen. Everything would be important, down to the way each material feels to your fingers.

And with Apple's already existent infrastructure, the possibilities for in-car entertainment and technology integration are almost limitless. Siri, for example. It would be so relatively easy for Apple to leverage Siri in a car, and tie it into the car's navigation system. Like Apple's insistence that AT&T provide an unlimited data plan with every iPhone sold, Apple would make sure you would have minimum of 3G connectivity in the car at all times, in addition to GPS, for flawless integration between what you say to Siri, and Siri's ability to get results and display them on your nav screen.

And as a side bonus, Apple would make sure the in-car mic and audio system were superb, not just mediocre. It's just how Apple works, they would make sure every component of this system would be better than what we've experienced in a car so far.

It's great to think about, I'm not convinced Apple will want to build their own car, but I sort of see this working out as a deal between auto makers and Apple. Apple would provide the entire infotainment and control infrastructure for the car, i.e. the touch screens, the control layouts, buttons, everything that involves human interface, while the auto maker would design and build the mechanical parts of the car. That's the level of involvement Apple would demand, because otherwise you get something like the Motorola ROKR, the first iTunes phone.

And that's really where the problem is with most cars today, right? The cars are fine for the most part, but none of them can figure out a good way to do the navigation and infotainment stuff. Ford's Sync is the exception because that's actually pretty good - but Sync is made by Microsoft. There is a HUGE opportunity for Apple there, if they're motivated enough to do it. I can even imagine The Steve being annoyed with his expensive Mercedes because nothing inside it would be up to his standards of human interface perfection.
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dmegatool
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Join Date: Jul 2006
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2012-03-03, 08:43

Heard a guy on tv that said that a (Mercedes?) will have Siri on board, making it the first non iDevice that will take advantage of it. The way he talked sounded like a confirmed thing. That would be kinda nice...
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Xaqtly
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Join Date: May 2004
 
2012-03-03, 11:18

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmegatool View Post
Heard a guy on tv that said that a (Mercedes?) will have Siri on board, making it the first non iDevice that will take advantage of it. The way he talked sounded like a confirmed thing. That would be kinda nice...
Really nice, and it's absolutely where the whole thing needs to be heading. In Nevada, as of Jan 1st, it's now illegal to use a phone while driving, unless it's hands free. This means either you have to hope your car's infotainment system and bluetooth work with your phone, or you have to use Apple's earbuds, or if you have an Android phone... well, good luck. Something like Siri is almost becoming mandatory in cars.

My CTS-V has GM's version of voice recognition, and I can use it to enter directions for the nav by voice, but it doesn't interface directly with my iPhone. And that's the problem, every car has an isolated, proprietary system that attempts to allow you to do things like use voice for nav, but doesn't do it well and is usually pretty limited in scope. Siri is the clear answer. If Mercedes actually incorporates Siri it would be pretty awesome just for Siri's ability to understand human speech, the question is really how far will it go? Can you ask it to find the nearest coffee shop and put the directions on the nav?

Anyway I hope that's where it's all going, not just with Mercedes but with everybody. I just see this as exactly the kind of market that Apple would want to take over and "fix", like they did for mp3 players and cell phones.
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