Imagine shopping for a new car. You pick out a model you like, open the door for a test drive, take a seat, start the engine and reach for the radio knob. Only there’s no radio knob. Or touch screen. Or navigation unit. In fact, there’s nothing to suggest this new car offers any kind of entertainment or technology other than the required driver input information.
What’s going on? Is this car a throwback to the days of basic transportation when no air conditioning or car stereo existed? Is it the result of the government trying to limit driver distraction? Or is the lack of technology actually a sign of some of the greatest in-car tech ever used?
As smartphones and tablet computers become popular in our society, it’s inevitable that drivers will use them in place of in-car tech. Why pay $2,000 or more for in-car navigation when the iPhone has it built in? Why pay for an expensive audio interface when you could slide a new iPad Mini into the dash and have instant access to all your music and apps?
Aftermarket companies are already offering to customize cars with integrated iPad Minis, creating a seamless, yet removable, installation. The 7.9-inch display is quite perfect for auto use and will be an easier fit than the larger iPad.
It’s certainly conceivable that future cars will be sold without factory entertainment technology, but with ports ready to accept a consumer’s personal device. Automakers could save money, and consumers would get instant personalization of their new vehicles.
Better yet, maybe car companies should take the next step and partner with Apple or Microsoft or Samsung and provide these devices as in-car tech instead of the existing touch screens and radio controls. Ford’s Sync comes close, but it sure seems like it would be a lot less complicated to just integrate a new Windows Surface and call it good.
Wouldn’t it be cool if an iPad or similar tablet could replace all audio, climate and navigation controls in a car?