What did Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and BMW all do in the last two years? Develop smartphone interfaces, complete with voice assistant, for its cars. Yes, of course, consumers want you to improve the user interface of your cars, but please stay in your lane. There is only room in my life for one connected assistant and it isn’t going to have four wheels.
I believe this rampant development of voice UIs is dumb because the future is autonomy, which will free up my concentration to fully engage with an interface when travelling to my destination. Even in the middle years before widespread quantum computing and 5G networking becomes commercially viable, drivers need to concentrate on the road which makes complicated in-car UIs pointless.
What should car manufacturers be doing? Making good cars that cost less and letting the device makers consumers are already handing their lives, and money, to handle the user interface. Google Assistant already knows my schedule and my voice. Siri gained personalized shortcut superpowers with the iOS 12 update. Alexa knows when Amazon Prime users need toilet paper and will get it sent directly to your door. So where does the car fit into this ecosystem?
Also, automobile makers are limited by the commercial deals they can strike with third-party vendors. You think the Amazon integration into the new Porsche Connect system is a goodwill gesture? BMW takes this to a laughable extreme by charging customers subscription fees for features like CarPlay.
It all isn’t crap, though. Building geofencing functionality into the car is great because it eliminates the need to deal with tracking companies. Adding an e-SIM for connected services and future machine-to-machine communication will help enable that autonomous future. And cars also can use bigger, more accurate GPS radios that can work with preloaded maps when there’s no data signal. But I digress.
I want the apps and services I use on my smartphone to port directly to my car. Thankfully Google and Apple have already solved this problem with Android Auto and CarPlay. So please, car manufacturers, shave some money off of the sticker price and just support these services. If we were all being honest, we wouldn’t own cars if we could teleport. When last have you enjoyed the drive somewhere more than the relief of getting to your destination?