For over eighty years, consumers have had access to in-vehicle entertainment systems. It all started in 1930, when Motorola introduced the first commercially available car radio. As with most technologies, it was just a matter of time for this new category to explode. In 1965, Ford and Motorola introduced the first eight-track car player, and as music formats evolved, so did car stereos. Today’s future automobile’s in-car entertainment systems combine old and new technologies right on our dashboards.
Modern car entertainment systems bundle different audio formats (am and fm radio tuners, CD player, mp3 playback, satellite radio, etc) and navigation (GPS) under a unified interface. For years, we’ve interacted with these devices through buttons and dials, and only luxury cars offered solutions that went beyond the volume and tuner knobs. But today, thanks to the commoditization of some technologies, like touch screens and bluetooth, car manufactures can offer smarter alternatives. Let’s take a look at today’s top in-vehicle entertainment systems.
Present-day configurations rely on a touch screen as an input method and a layer of software takes care of the rest. Some car manufacturers, like Ford, Kia and Fiat, use a Microsoft proprietary system and then fine tune it to best fit their needs. Ford’s solution, MyFord Touch, includes voice commands, traffic and directions, wifi internet, vehicle health report and other connectivity features such as bluetooth, SD card slots and USB inputs. Other systems include Hyundai BlueLink, Kia Uvo, Fiat Blue&Me, BMW Assist, Mercedes Mbrace and Toyota Entune., which share similar capabilities.
Other technology companies have attempted to enter the auto entertainment system with little or no success. Recently, Apple announced its own software, with a whole new approach to the connectivity paradigm. CarPlay (which is what Apple calls its new system) uses your iOS device as the brains of your system, as it can already handle calls, music, internet, contacts, messages and other apps. The new system will be available for select 2014 Ferraris, Hondas, Hyundais, Mercedes Benz and Volvos. CarPlay is also coming to your favorite Ford vehicles in the near future.
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