Starting in 2022, Mercedes-Benz will be launching new services allowing customers to use fingerprint scans to verify purchases from inside their vehicle. While this makes it sound as though the feature will be limited to feeding the meter, fast food, gasoline, and the occasional tech-savvy prostitute, parent company Daimler said it was an important step forward for its MBUX multimedia interface and the general trajectory for luxury vehicles as a whole.
Most of us have synced our phones to a vehicle to play music, unwittingly funneling personal information to the manufacturer in the process. But only an elite few have used their mobile device to digitally summon an automobile out of a garage or remotely tell it to pre-condition interior temperatures to the desired specification. However, that’s likely going to be the future and Apple would very much like to be leading the charge.
The tech giant is reportedly developing a way to better integrate smartphones with cars by accessing systems that are currently unavailable to CarPlay. Apple’s new program, internally known as IronHeart, seeks to collaborate with automakers so that its phones can network with vehicles in new and interesting ways. It’s effectively CarPlay 2.0 and sounds as though it would be giving the company access to just about every item drivers might interface with on a daily basis.
When an automaker discusses mobility, they’re not really talking about anything specific. The term has been established within the industry as a catch-all phrase for electrification, app-based services, autonomous programs, data acquisition, robotics, and whatever other ideas that don’t fit neatly within a company’s core product line. Providing the best example of the term’s nebulous nature this week was Toyota, which showcased a glut of mobility projects for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games — as well as toying with the idea of handing over vehicle data to the Japanese government.
Let’s start with the concerning aspects before we get into the goofy stuff.
Earlier this year, Volkswagen announced that the launch of the Mk8 Golf would be delayed until 2020 as it continues working on the vehicle’s upgraded tech features. VW intends to launch the car with an entirely digital cockpit, even on base models, alongside perks like permanent internet connectivity and advanced driving aids. It’s all part of a bid to make the Golf even more appetizing when compared to upscale rivals than it already is.
At the time, VW said certain technical issues needed to be ironed out before the next-gen Golf was ready to hit the road, but was adamant that software gremlins were not to blame. The issue came down to the advanced nature of the new technologies, not glitches.
Never take an automaker’s word for it.
Daimler is updating its “Mercedes me” app to include on-board purchases via a virtual store, available across the globe. With the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, B-Class and GLE, customers can even order some optional equipment online after purchasing their vehicle. According to the manufacturer, customers can subsequently purchase digital radio, smartphone integration with Apple Carplay or Android Auto, and enhanced navigation. Think of it like downloadable content (DLC) in video games or new apps for your phone, only for your car’s MBUX infotainment system.
While it’s handy to have the ability to add optional equipment remotely, we’re always hesitant to praise anything that monetizes digital content. DLC and microtransactions have really pitted the gaming community against publishers, resulting in some pretty heinous schemes to nickel and dime the customer base. Now, the trend has moved beyond the borders of that industry and into the automotive sector.