Infotainment systems are getting better and richer everyday integrating more and more functionalities into it. Entertainment, Communication, Navigation, Live updates, Vehicle integration, Hands free, Voice Assistance, Phone Integration, Gestures, … what not.
- Recently AAA published a report noticing that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functions were found to be less distracting than the native infotainment interfaces
- On similar lines, consumer satisfaction reports over the years have been reporting infotainment systems as one of the problem areas
So, if infotainment interfaces are complicated, users are finding Apple CarPlay / Android Auto options better, is that indicating an end for infotainment systems?
Definitely no. Infotainment systems’ ability is only growing. It still sits very high on consumer’s wish list when deciding on new car. What the reports indicate is the correction that is in the making.
There are two key things that the phone brings,
- Usage Familiarity / Ease of Use
- Personalization / My content, places, preferences, …
Thus, it is not about omitting a feature because it is getting better delivered through a phone. It is about how do Infotainment systems address the personalization and user experience expectations.
- Lot of phone features depend on cellular connectivity. In absence of network, much of it will not work including voice assistant
On the other hand, native infotainment systems include features like Dead Reckoning that provide assistance in such offline conditions also.
- Irrespective of the supplier, OEMs have the primary liability when it comes to requirements like safety, security, performance, availability etc.
The responsibility on the OEM gets amplified in the context of integration of a typical infotainment feature such as navigation with core features such as autonomous cars and driving in hazardous conditions.
- While Apple CarPlay and Android Auto improve the infotainment experience, the phone itself gets locked down in a way. It is not completely free for use while it is connected.
What is needed is a native experience that is as intuitive as Apple CarPlay / Android Auto but without the physical connection need.
Thus, Infotainment systems are here to stay with very prominent role to play. I anticipate the following developments in infotainment in near future.
- Native UI gets intuitive following a familiar design language (one that is simple, fluid and bug free)
Learning a new UI design takes time. When you are in car, you are on purpose. You need to get from point A to B. You don’t have enough time to fiddle with the UI, understand or familiarize it. That is why users are more comfortable with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as they present familiar user interface
- Personalization is important, very important
Need not be limited to the phone connection though. With 5G and cloud connectivity, AI and all, it could get much simplified. Something like face recognition replacing the phone connection to bring in personal content, preferences and user experience.
- Integration with vehicle features goes deep
That is where infotainment systems will help the OEMs differentiate themselves while delivering CarPlay or Android Auto like simplicity
- Software defined system
With the vehicle platforms going software defined way, the portion of the infotainment is native and that which is ‘brought in’, will see a shift based on customer choices and feature richness / performance etc. that users will opt for… so it may happen that the native v/s external will be a configurable item when we buy the car.