By on January 8, 2015

FCA Uconnect Access Services

Autonomous alien luxury pods and royalty-free hydrogen patents aren’t the only things coming onto the stage during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Today, we’ll show you the latest and greatest from BMW, FCA, Audi and Ford, with the help from our brothers and sisters over at AutoGuide.

BMW introduced non-contact gesture controls for its Control Display touchscreen infotainment system, allowing drivers to input a given address with directed gestures made between the instrument panel and gear shift, among other tasks. Another system, Touch Command, will use a standard Samsung tablet to handle all infotainment and comfort functions, and provides wireless access to all onboard electronics for all passengers.

Over at FCA, the automaker debuted new additions to its Uconnect Access suite of apps: Vehicle Finder, Send Destination to Vehicle, Monthly Vehicle Report and Vehicle Health Alert. All four allow owners to keep tabs on their vehicle’s systems, easily navigate to a given destination, and know where their vehicle is at all times. The new suite will debut in H1 2015 on select FCA products equipped with either 8.4A or 8.4AN Uconnect systems.

Audi showed off the new interior of the next-gen Q7 — set to bow in Detroit next week as a 2016 model — to the media in attendance at the 2015 CES. The dashboard arrangement is derived from the TT, featuring a 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit display with 3D maps and other important information. An additional pop-up central display uses a rotary knob and touch-sensitive pad to operate, while two large, removable, Wi-Fi-enabled tablets mounted in the back of the front headrests provide navigation info and entertainment for those seated in back.

Finally, Ford has added on AccuWeather and Life360 to the AppLink suite of apps on-board the new, QNX-based Sync 3 system. The Life360 Sync 3 app has a special Drive Mode feature that sends text messages to a driver’s friends and family so that they know not to contact the user while driving, with a follow-up text sent upon arrival at the user’s destination. AccuWeather, meanwhile, will use GPS to give minute-by-minute weather forecasts to help drivers better deal with and plan around inclement weather.

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10 Comments on “New Apps, Infotainment Systems Turn Up At 2015 CES...”

  • avatar

    I’m getting old and a lot of this tech seems to be a bit of fluff. That Audi dash seems to be kind of distracting as well.

    • 0 avatar

      Right; as soon as someone says “we’re adding weather and movie times” I tune right out. What useless junk! Who is driving around saying, “if I only had a device that told me the weather”? Automakers need to deliver 1) things that smartphones can’t do, or 2) make a smartphone’s job easier.

      Slinging directions to the car from the phone is a good start. Now let’s work on seamless app integration for hundreds of really useful apps. Spotify, Evernote, Audible, full-zoot OK Google and Siri, full directory access so the car can play any audio on the phone (including all podcasts and audio files no matter where they be, WITHOUT lengthy syncing).

      When those are added, it will truly sway me toward a particular model. Right now UConnect is so good I’m already dropping lesser systems off my consideration list. But the first automaker that really cracks the code will have me putting infotainment right alongside design, driving dynamics, and price.

      • 0 avatar

        Who is driving around saying, “if I only had a device that told me the weather”

        I do all the time. However since I have an iPhone plus various apps (like Dark Sky) I get weather updates pushed to me in real time. Siri can even read text messages for me so its hands free. Something tells me Ford, VW or Dodge can’t do anything better then what the combination above does today.

        Thus I’d rather the OEMs just give me a nice open cubby space in the dash and a powered USB port. They need to stop trying to fix a problem that already has a solution. I do like some of other features like car health reports, this kind of integration is the area OEMs should focus on.

  • avatar

    Understand that this is a moving target, but you guys here at TTAC staff drive far more cars than we do. Ever thought about “rating” the info systems as of, say, January 1st? Which are the most stable? Easiest to use? How are they updated (ease of update). Etc.–you select the other criteria.
    Suspect the challenge would be info systems that vary among models. Aren’t there models that use one system in a lower line trim level, and another system in a high level? Other systems, like Chrysler’s 8.4a system seem to be used across models with only minor changes, if any.

    • 0 avatar

      Definitely the new frontier in car reviewing. I’m grateful, because for a couple years the only advancements were fiddly safety features like blind spot monitoring or pre-collision seatbelt tightening. I’m glad we’re back to really useful innovations like HUD, less-distracting nav, and smartphone integration. These are things worth paying more for. Infotainment used to be a sideshow, but now it’s way up on the must-have list.

  • avatar

    Are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto still “on the way?” You can’t buy a model with either system yet?

    • 0 avatar

      The Ferrari FF has CarPlay today.

      The maddening thing is that Ford’s Sync 3.0, which won’t ship until MY2016, still won’t support either immediately.

      • 0 avatar

        There have been a couple of aftermarket units announced that have iOS and Android connections.

        One of them is from Parot, which also makes an in-dash Andrei device. They haven’t been able to keep the up up to date in it, though – they’re still on Android 2.x.

        BTW, does Ferrari even do their own in-dash electronics? AFIAK, nobody bought a Ferrari for the stereo, so it’d make sense for them to sub it out…

  • avatar

    Full stop. Automakers can’t do infotainment right. They don’t have the right mindset. Bottom-line, you’ve got to provide over-the-air updates and you’ve got to support your systems for more than a couple of model-years. A buddy has a Ford SYNC on his 2012 Fusion. There’s a bunch of good changes for 2013 and he can’t get them — his system is too old. Another filed under the Lemon Law to get his system in his new Lexus IS350 to play MP3s properly. They ended up giving him an IPOD for his music!

    How about this: provide a “app” that simply mirrors your iphone or Android device via bluetooth and keep that up-to-date? All the apps then live on the phone and that universe is responsible for keeping it up-to-date.

    Now, don’t let me start on how broken that will be in 10 years…

  • avatar

    “And as an added bonus,” added Titchfield Smith, VP Field Operations Blue Sky Industries, “our mobile apps now come with four wheels and an engine, so you can actually move 300 yards to meet another human heing in the flesh, in the flesh, note – for a coffee. Exciting stuff.”

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