By on September 18, 2018

J.D. Power and Associates is supremely interested in multimedia systems these days. In fact, in now incorporates audio, communication, entertainment, and navigation (ACEN) into its initial quality study. If an automaker wants one of J.D. Power’s tombstone-shaped awards, it now has to ensure its multimedia equipment isn’t vexing to consumers. Unfortunately, ACEN has proven the most problematic category for new vehicle owners since its addition to the annual survey three years ago.

The research and marketing firm recently decided to break out its ACEN scores to see which vehicles had the best infotainment systems. However, in this instance, what constitutes superior hardware is simply a lack of customer complaints. For J.D. Power, multimedia system quality is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles over the first 90 days of ownership.

Since potential problems include everything from technical failures and overall features to how well the system was explained by the dealer and plain general satisfaction, decoding what makes a particular system truly bad is difficult. But a lower frequency of complains always means a better product. Which models shined the brightest?  (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2018

Amazon Alexa ford center

You’re likely familiar with Amazon’s cloud-based virtual home assistant Alexa. She’s the little voice that lives inside the Echo, a device which allows consumers to manage their calendar, set alarms, create a shopping list, adjust the thermostat, play music, and a multitude of other functions all via voice command. However, if you’re anything like me, you probably just ask Alexa to tell you bad jokes and read the morning news.

Alexa has found her way into cars lately — most notably those produced by Hyundai, thanks to a partnership with Amazon. But it looks like she’s about to find her way into a whole bunch more. On Thursday, Amazon announced the Alexa Auto Software Development Kit, which provides developers a way to easily integrate all of Alexa’s functions into automotive infotainment systems. (Read More…)

By on December 7, 2017

Amazon’s Echo has already invaded homes across North America, but it’s now beginning to creep into vehicle infotainment systems. My parents have one and both are quite fond of its ability to answer basic queries through intuitive voice commands. Though my mother refers to the system as my father’s “new wife,” it prefers to be addressed as Alexa when being issued instructions. If you need another point of reference, it’s reminiscent of Apple’s Siri, the computer from Star Trek, and any other automated technology using a female voice as the primary interface.

However, as handy as these systems are, they sometimes make mistakes. Alexa is great at giving me the weather but, when you give her more complex requests, she’ll sometimes get confused. That’s not a big problem when you are able to whip out your phone and go online, but it can be real annoying when driving. Early voice command interfaces in automobiles were infuriating — it was often easier to give up and input whatever information you were trying to shout at Ford Sync, BMW iDrive, or whatever decade-old system you happened to be using.

Thankfully, voice recognition is far better now than it was in 2008. But with so many concerns about automotive safety cropping up, it’s a little surprising that nobody has yet perfected an interface that effectively allows motorists to keep their hands where they belong — on the wheel.  (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2017

fordces_sygic_2

A report by industry analysis firm Hexa Research is positing that the market for automotive infotainment systems will be worth more than $40 billion by 2024.

That’s thanks to rising consumer demand, improved technological capabilities, and improved incomes, according to the report. As it stands, the North American market accounted for a hair over 35 percent of the revenue from the infotainment industry in 2016.

(Read More…)

By on August 12, 2016

SEAT DriveApp

Apple loves it when people buy its toys, but doesn’t appreciate it when other companies try to muscle into its technology playpen.

Whether the tech giant likes it or not, the Volkswagen-owned Seat brand just became the first automaker to design and market an app that is compatible with Apple CarPlay. (Read More…)

By on March 19, 2016

2013 Buick Verano Turbo, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

If you like your dashboard to function like a 1970s stereo, then you’re an outlier in a society that increasingly desires a Minority Report-style driving experience, according to Automotive News.

A five-year forecast by industry analyst IHS Automotive predicts a steep increase in manufacturer demand for high-tech vehicle controls, meaning more touch screens, gesture controls and voice-recognition technology.

(Read More…)

By on October 28, 2014

Infiniti InTouch - Infiniti Q50

Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems.

(Read More…)

By on June 17, 2014

google-car-1-1

Google’s entry into the world of connected vehicles is in the final phases of development, but those who can’t wait to see its interface will have their chance when the system debuts at the tech company’s annual Google I/O Conference next week.

(Read More…)

By on June 6, 2014

2013 RAM 3500 Interior, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

As more vehicles come with infotainment systems mounted in the dashboard console, consumers are beginning to face the issue of losing privacy behind the driver’s seat.

(Read More…)

By on April 19, 2014

file_CO1676_Flexible_Smartphone_Docking

Former Hyundai executive John Krafcik recently spoke about connectivity and autonomy and of the possibility that electronic gizmos in our cars may make us less connected to the driving experience. That’s not the only challenge automakers and drivers face when it comes to electronics in cars. After seeing the missteps that Ford has made with Sync and MyFordTouch, with systems seemingly too complicated or not reliable enough for many drivers, it appears to me that the challenge of chasing a technological treadmill to try and keep cars, which most consumers keep for years, electronically up to date, is a fools errand. Comments to Derek’s post on Krafcik’s statement indicated that there’s definitely a market for less complicated car electronics. People have asked, “why does my car need to duplicate the more up-to-date services that my smartphone provides?” Well, someone at Continental Tire’s electronics and instrument division, VDO, asked that same question and they came up with the Flexible Smartphone Docking Station. (Read More…)

By on February 23, 2014

As automakers seek out technology partners for their on-board electronic devices, Ford is leaving Microsoft by the side of the road for a variant of BlackBerry’s QNX-based operating system in future updates to the Blue Oval’s long-suffering SYNC/MyFord Touch infotainment systems.

(Read More…)

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