'Tiny Little Buttons…': Dealership Holds Seminars to Help Old People Understand Weird and Scary Technology
Technology is a major component in what makes a modern-day automobile desirable. It’s so important, in fact, that numerous quality and customer satisfaction surveys have cited owner misunderstandings of a vehicle’s electronic interface as the primary reason for specific models losing marks.
MyFord Touch was among the worst offenders, thanks to unreliable connectivity features and lethargic software. While Sync3 is much improved, it isn’t a perfect system and can still perplex luddites — just like any modern vehicle’s interface.
With that in mind, a Lincoln dealership in Michigan is conducting monthly seminars to help older folks feel more comfortable with all the newfangled electronic gizmos the kids today seem so damn enthusiastic about. It’s the sort of behavior most dealers should have been engaging in from the start but, unfortunately, has been reserved primarily for premium automakers.
It looks like Ford’s offer to update 2016 vehicles equipped with its SYNC 3 infotainment system with free Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity has a lot to do with some recent hires.
The automaker has announced it will allow owners of one-year-old vehicles to install the feature, which comes standard on all 2017 models, at no cost. The offer positions Ford near the cutting edge in automotive technology. For a company seeking a starring role in the tech-heavy mobility realm, this is exactly where it wants to be.
Amazon’s Echo is a voice-operated smart device for your residence that, despite being notably gimmicky, has become increasingly popular with geeky homeowners. You can ask it for the weather, to read you a book, request a certain song, buy things for you online, adjust the thermostat, dim the lights, or schedule your calendar. My father has one and, because the device represents itself through a pleasant-sounding female voice calling itself Alexa, my mother refers to it as “his second wife.”
Soon, Alexa and the associated Echo technology will be available on Ford, Volkswagen, Hyundai, and BMW branded automobiles. The new feature should offer a catalog of in-car commands and can be set-up to work in tandem with a home device to do things like flip on the the lights prior to pulling into the driveway. While this might not drastically enhance your quality of living, it will feel incredibly futuristic for about two weeks.
Ford, Mazda, Toyota, Subaru, PSA (Peugeot, etc.), and Suzuki are now part of an automotive alliance concerning your dashboard. The SmartDeviceLink Consortium, as they’re styling it, is apparently all about muscling around Google and Apple’s forays into the automobile, and is based on Ford’s existing “AppLink” software project, which has been around for several years.
I’ve written about smart dashboards before for TTAC. Particularly, in 2013 after Apple’s original announcement, I was amazed automakers were willing to cede so much control over the precious dashboard real estate. I later noted people are likely to be more loyal to their phones than cars and to make buying decisions around what cars support their phones “properly,” especially because Apple and Google fundamentally know a lot more about you and can do a much better job of knowing what you want to listen to and where you want to go.
But what exactly is the SmartDeviceLink Consortium all about? You might think it sounds like it’s a rejection of your smartphone driving the screen in your car, as with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Curious as to what was really going on, I then dug into the giant pile of software and specifications they’ve posted on Github. What’s really going on here isn’t as much in opposition to what Google and Apple are up to as it’s an attempt to standardize it and refactor it.
Ford just ran through its 2017 product lineup, shouting, “You get upgraded Sync 3, and you get upgraded Sync 3…!”
Today, the automaker announced that a new version of its Sync 3 infotainment system will be available on every 2017 Ford product. The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, meaning your phone never had it so good.
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.
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