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Software made me loathe my car (hoegh.org)
464 points by mikl 47 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 509 comments

I was always pretty skeptical of CarPlay, honestly. Bluetooth audio + maps on a phone holder seemed like it was perfectly fine, and putting myself even further into the Apple ecosystem felt unnecessary. In short, I had always considered an auto's entertainment system/software to be something to ignore.

Renting a car with CarPlay for a week (and a reasonably long "commute" during that time) completely changed my mind. Typically the only reason I ever used a built in car display up to this point was...to set up my phone in Bluetooth. Suddenly I had familiar applications that made that screen useful: Maps, Overcast (podcasts), Messages (read aloud, not displayed, of course), etc. A phone in a holder is, of course, totally acceptable and fine, but as I'm just starting to consider buying my first car in almost a decade I'm suddenly looking at CarPlay as a requirement.

Other notes on this for those that are interested: A lot of cars with CarPlay also support Android Auto, and they always have a base system if you'd prefer not to use either. OP is talking about this from a luxury car perspective, but it's available in a really wide price range from entry to super-luxury.

Last year I got a rental with CarPlay. It was the first time I had a system in a rental that didn’t seem more intent on downloading my contacts than on displaying nav info or playing music.

The first and last thing I do in every rental car I'm in is delete the stored contacts. You're all welcome.

Same here, but it's often damnably (maybe even purposefully) difficult to figure out how to do it.

It's funny you say that, because last time I had a rental with Android Auto it would not let me even start it without allowing access to my contacts and other details. I ended up not using it because of that.

The normal car bluetooth systems on the other hand don't mind if you don't give them access to things, and you can restrict it to music and calls only.

Maybe they just want to facilitate you by letting you voice your contact and send message or call your friends by voice. I don't have a car with Android Auto, can you deny the permission?

I use LineageOS which has something called PrivacyGuard. I can give the app permission to access my contacts but then deny it at the PrivacyGuard level. I'm pretty sure that it just returns an empty contact list in this case.

Interesting, I thought the PrivacyGuard and permissions were the same thing, except that the former gives you more control. I'll try that next time.

Yup, it is probably something like that. It wouldn't start without being granted the permissions though.

I find Carplay dangerous for my use case: As the interface follows what’s happening on the phone, you often lose the maps and directions as the guy controlling CarPlay need to check his messages

I have no idea how they’ve managed to design it like this, it’s like they only think single driver commuters would use it

In iOS 13 they're conceding that this isn't how it's always used - a passenger might hook their phone to CarPlay, or the driver might hand their phone off for someone else to use.

That's releasing early next month. Probably a gold master build at the event on 9/10, with wide release following after that.

Good, that's one of my biggest pet peeves for CarPlay.

I'm also not a fan of Siri, would love to keep it disabled as I normally do, but CarPlay doesn't even start without it :/

I never thought that anyone other than the driver would want to connect their phone to the head unit in the car, regardless of how many other people might or might not also be in the car.

On further reflection, I think it's still overall not a good idea. If the driver wants to change the music being played, or the volume, or whatever, and there is a passenger in the car with them, then I would think it would be okay for the driver to have the passenger do that on their behalf. And that might affect the display.

But I guess I can wait to see if iOS 13 can change my mind.

You are assuming that the driver's phone is the one connected. The typical use case is a couple, where either can drive. The first one to look up directions is the one who connects the phone. I do this all the time with my wife. Sometimes we have to disconnect one phone and connect the other so the passenger can continue using the phone without killing the map for the driver.

My kids usually manage the music, it's easy at the moment with an AUX lead so no real connection with the car. I can see as things are getting more connected this could have issues.

So glad right now that Apple took the bold step of removing the AUX plug. :)

Anecdote: I have only used CarPlay in rental cars, and every time I start driving while my wife connects her phone and gets directions and music going. It’s annoying that the map disappears when she checks her messages.

I use this all the time with my gf, I drive, she looks up a restaurant or something, opens maps to navigate to it and connects it to the car.

And after that she becomes annoyed she can't play Pokemon go or whatever game anymore :p

I usually have someone driving me, but would strongly prefer to control the music. With Carplay, if I connect my phone in order to control the music I'll lose navigation if I use my phone for anything at all.

Best solution I've found so far was putting my Spotify account on my drivers phone, then I can change the music using my phone without messing up waze.

This is the most infuriating thing. Android Auto does it for some apps also, but it feels baked into the core experience of CarPlay. Given the choice between the two, this UX mishap alone makes me choose AA over CP even when I'm driving alone.

This behavior is changing with iOS 13.

It’s obvious why it’s designed that way: to reduce the distraction of using the phone while driving. If you have the dash showing one thing and you’re doing something else on the phone, you’re now potentially doubly distracted from operating the two ton lethal steel weapon you’re supposed to be paying attention to.

You may not agree with the design choice, but it’s completely obvious why they made it that way.

The case where then passenger needs to do something is rare enough when compared to the safety issues. In design you also need to weigh and make trade offs.

I agree, I can't believe that was overlooked. I used Carplay for the first time a few weeks ago and I was blown away that Apple allowed it to be released - it feels really unpolished and slow, and the experience changes depending on what head unit you're using, just like Android's unpredictability. It doesn't feel like an Apple product at all.

Classic Apple being run by old baby boomers move. Of course everybody in the world is commuting alone by car, why else would you use a car. We’d also all like more U2 forced onto our phones please.

Also being able to control everything via Siri with actually competent speech recognition is a godsend compared to the several minutes of shouting in various accents that most in-built voice control systems require.

The need for internet access is slightly irritating however.

You mean Siri is actually usable while driving? Is there a “trick” to this?

I’ve yet to have it work a single time, and have just given up, after (in your own words) shouting at the car.

In my experience Siri over CarPlay is significantly more reliable (in that it understands me better over road noise) than Siri over Bluetooth audio (in both cases using the mic/speakers built into the car). FWIW phone calls also sound clearer when plugged in via USB. I’m guessing it’s because of poor audio quality for voice over Bluetooth in at least the cars I tried.

Hold the home button briefly (lower-left corner) for Siri on CarPlay. It’s actually fantastic.

Really the only issue I have with carplay is

1. That I can't tell siri to play things on spotify, etc, although apparently siri support for spotify is coming. I'm on the iOS 13.1 beta but it's still not there

2. Carplay limits the listing of bands/albums/songs in the menu. I get that they don't want me visually scrolling through hundreds of albums while I'm driving, but since there's no carplay search, and I can't (yet) control spotify with siri, this means to play the music I want I have to pick up my phone and select my music from there. Much less safe than if they just listed all my music on the screen.

They list far more albums when the car is at a stop, but it's still not all of it. Scrolling through my artists gets me to about G before it stops listing.

Siri support for spotify really can't come soon enough for me.

I think Spotify needs to implement Siri support so I’m not surprised that it doesn’t work on the beta. I’m also excited for this integration because I loathe Apple Music. Spotify is so much better. It’s annoying that Spotify doesn’t work as wel natively. If Apple Music was just a Spotify clone, I’d happily switch to them just for the first party support, but they insist on making it different. Spotify’s interface and music organization is just so much better.

Yeah, after the latest beta release if I ask siri to play on spotify she says "Spotify hasn't set up playing from siri yet" or something along those lines. I'm gonna be a happy camper when it starts working.

The truncated lists are imposed by the car manufacturer, not Apple. I agree it's very annoying.


Apple provide the API, so this is just the car manufacturer doing "the right thing".

I think the wording may some "certain cars" enforce it because after-market head units may not be connected up to the speedometer and therefore have no way of including this information.

We have a Suzuki that’s supposed to disable most of the touch screen controls when driving (including the TV/DVD and changing any navigation settings aside from zoom), but the used car dealer we bought it from informed us that he had already disconnected that sensor as a routine service to us...

I assume the car companies asked for this functionality. Mazda's UI locks out a bunch of functionality when the car is in motion.

This whole time I thought 2 was just a terrible bug. It was one of the reasons I switched to android.

Really can depend on the car too. I mostly love CarPlay in my Mazda[1]. My wife hates it in her Chevy Volt[2].

[1] Apple gives the car manufacturer the ability to truncate the length of scrollable lists while the car is in motion, which Mazda does. Nothing like only being able to see the first 15 items in a list of podcasts, or artists, or songs. I hate this. But otherwise the implementation is great, especially the integration between the car's physical controls and CarPlay. There's a steering wheel button to bring up Siri. There's direct physical button access to Maps, Now Playing, and the home screen. It would be nice if Apple allowed me to set Google Maps as the default mapping app, but Apple maps has become good enough most of the time. Aside, my 2016 CX-9 came w/o CarPlay. Mazda made it available as a DIY'able retrofit last year. The parts were a couple hundred dollars and it took a couple hours to retrofit.

[2] Once the entire entertainment system froze up and it didn't fix itself till like the next day. I've been meaning to check if there's an update from Chevy.

I'm an Android user, but have been considering switching to Apple, and it turns out that you can make GMaps or Waze the default mapping app for CarPlay. I was just reading about it as part of this thread.


Yes Waze is great on Apple carplay. Perfect Speed camera warnings are a lifesaver here in Europe.

Dont French cops take away every device showing speed cametad while driving?

You can do this with Android Auto - no need to swap to Apple!

That's just putting a shortcut on the screen. It doesn't change any other defaults. Siri will still only open Apple Maps. Same with Calendar, iMessage, Contacts, etc.

“Give me directions to foo” - gives directions to foo in apple maps

“Give me directions to foo using Waze” - gives directions to do using Waze

This might be new, but it definitely works on the iOS 13 beta, although I’m pretty sure it worked on iOS 12. It would still be nicer if we could just set default apps

Can confirm that this works on iOS 12.

That does not make Waze the default mapping app. 9to5mac is wrong. Changing the order of the apps is only cosmetic.

I had no idea the limiting of lists was at the option of the car maker. Interesting! I hate that aspect of it in my Honda.

Yup. At first I blamed Spotify. Then Apple. Then I learned it was Mazda to blame:

1. "Intelligently filter content when the vehicle is moving. Certain cars may cause CarPlay to truncate lists of content when the vehicle is in motion or has exceeded a certain speed."

2. contentLimitsEnforced: A Boolean value indicating whether contents limits are enforced by the content server.

3. enforcedContentItemsCount: Returns the number of content items that are displayed when content limiting is enforced.

[1] https://developer.apple.com/design/human-interface-guideline...

[2] https://developer.apple.com/documentation/mediaplayer/mpplay...

[3] https://developer.apple.com/documentation/mediaplayer/mpplay...

CarPlay worked fine on my Chevy Volt(s). I owned the later generations. It’s even better on my Bolt since it seems they figured out that everyone will either use CarPlay or Android Auto. The problem with the Volt(s) is that there didn’t seem to be a way to remotely update the HUD. This has changed with newer Bolts

I've been waffling on this, but my biggest concern about the center stack display is that it's far away from looking at the road. I've been using a suction cup RAM mount on the windshield for years with Waze up constantly on my phone, podcasts playing to the bluetooth or wired connection, and most importantly, I have to look slightly to the right to see the directions, not down and far away. Even then, it's refocusing on something close instead of staying with my eye focus on the middle distance. Someday I hope to switch to a HUD, but my 2010 Mazda Miata does not leave a lot of dash room to mount such a thing aftermarket.

I agree, I have Android Auto in my 2019 VW Tiguan. Its awesome but its very easy to spend more time than you think picking a playlist from spotify etc.

With your phone you know not to touch it when driving but the center console feels acceptable.

I had one close call where the car's auto breaking saved me from hitting a car that decided to turn without indicating. now I treat my centre console almost like my phone, I will use the console stopped at lights but not my phone.

Does your VW have a microphone button? My 2017 golf does, and it works reasonably well with Google assistant.

glad to hear you've modified your driving habits!

i use voice control and steering wheel buttons only whilst driving, works well enough!

To me, the size of display outweighs location by far. Also the fact that I don't have to worry about a suction cup or magnet or whatever letting go while I'm driving; also I don't have to glue anything to my dash.

To be clear, I hardly touch the infotainment screen while in motion. I can do almost everything I need to by voice, the only touch command is to choose an option from a list.

It would be nice to have a HUD projected on the windshield, but I don't find it distracting to look at the Infotainment screen.

100 times this. As nice as the stuff in the center display is, it's too far away from the forward field of view to use. I've been using a suction cup to hold my phone as well but it's very frustrating - it falls off every few months especially during temperature changes.

I came to a compromise of using ~1/4" aluminum rods anchored in the forward vent and around inside the CD player to create a phone holder cradled above and slightly off to the right of the main dashboard. This creates a mechanically sturdy enclosure that I really wish cars would come with built in.

A HUD would be even better but I don't think I could ever trust a display driven by car manufacturers' software stacks.

that suction cup will not hold in the event of an accident and now your phone is a projectile. always put your phone away in a compartment and use handsfree.

no one will follow this advice, but no one will think they will be in an accident until they have a huge welt on their head and can't figure out why.

A projectile going forward, sure.

It might bounce but at that point there's way less energy involved and the accident's intense enough that a welt on my head is the least of my problems.


When someone is flung from a car, I'm not really worried about the damage they will do.

And if you're in flinging territory, the cell phone is a rounding error compared to the windshield, and a lot more blunt too.


Someone flung from a car won't damage you, but have a look at videos with crash test dummies, where a passenger in the back isn't wearing a seat belt. Them being flung in to the back of the driver's seat creates a huge impact.

The windshield won't be flung anywhere, but an electronic device will. Getting smashed in the face with an iPhone going 50Km/h is going to do some damage, rounded corners or not.

No. Don't do that here. Go back to reddit.

>that suction cup will not hold in the event of an accident and now your phone is a projectile.

I guess?

What do I do about the legally mandated 2-4lbs steel backed rear-view mirror that's required to be hand-removable without the use of tools in most places?

To be clear, i'm not saying you're wrong -- i'm saying that making a car a safe crash space will drive a person mad. It's practically impossible.

This. People underestimate the amount of force and damage small items can have in your car.

Why not just use CarPlay on your phone with the phone holder? Is it not exactly the same as a car with built in CarPlay? Atleast on android auto I noticed no difference between the App on my phone and connecting my phone to my car's Android Auto.

The whole point of CarPlay is that it’s on the built in screen. Many states have laws now that prohibit operating any sort of handheld device while driving (and yes, a phone or even GPS unit in a mount still counts as handheld)

That's really dumb, phones now have 6"+ screens and are way more powerful than any head unit in a car... "Many states have laws now that prohibit operating any sort of handheld device while driving" I don't believe you, otherwise most uber drivers, food delivery drivers and taxi drivers would be getting pulled over by the police.


Maybe not the authoritative source but interacting with a phone while driving is indeed illegal in all of Europe.

You are wrong, in the ad absurdum extrapolation in this thread that using a phone for navigation is illegal in “all of Europe”.

You presumably meant EU, a part but not all of Europe, but that too is wrong. For example, the law in the Czech Republic, a member state of EU, states that it forbidden to hold a phone (or other handheld device), in hand or otherwise (e.g. between shoulder and ear) while driving (§ 125c / 1f) 1. z. č. 361/2000 Sb.).

Handheld devices probably are illegal to use while driving in all of EU while being (hand)held, but absolutely not when mounted and used in the same manner as car’s builtin display. It may be the case in some country, but is not true generally.

That mode is not available with CarPlay, it is also deprecated on Android Auto (for a voice control setup, I believe).

> CarPlay as a requirement

Why don't you loose your requirement to just 2DIN space to install your favourite Car Play compatible gadget into?

If you really want to you can even get it in 1DIN with a detachable screen such as Pioneer SPH-EVO82DAB-UNI / SPH-EVO62DAB-UNI

For android DIY folks , another route is to build your own open source AndroidAuto receiver with e.g. http://headunit.viktorgino.me/ + https://thepihut.com/products/raspberry-pi-official-7-touchs...

Because a lot of manufacturers put control of the car's settings in the stock head unit. You'd have to swap it out if you want to change a particular setting.

What I'd be willing to compromise on is an external screen that will handle CarPlay or Android Auto. I can't seem to find one out there.

As a counterpoint, my VW in-car navigation integrates with the second screen, so I get glanceable navigation behind the steering wheel.

And, in Australia, it's very easy to lose mobile reception. Having usable maps on device is a must.

In iOS 13, manufacturers will be able to integrate the second screen with CarPlay. Whether or not they will is too be seen.

That feature is my least favourite part of Android Auto - using it on the main display hides the navigation behind the steering wheel. I really hope this can be fixed.

That's the main reason I still use built-in navigation rather than from my phone.

I got a leaf about 6 mo ago and it has carplay/android auto. This makes the infotainment/nav stuff no car maker ever could be arsed to do proper, completely moot.

It’s a requirement from now on! :)

I keep saying that an EV with carplay has made me look at a car differently - it’s a chassis with a battery. Choose the size of both according to what fits, say, 99.9% of all trips. For someone who lives in a city and have a charger in the garage of course this is a luxury, but to me it just makes so much sense.

This morning I was searching github for carplay projects.

There was one that could spoof an iPad and allow it to be used as the CarPlay display and interface from the iPhone.

Yes. :)

Did the car you rented have a Play/Pause button on the steering wheel? That’s what I am missing the most: being able to quickly pause (and later resume) whatever I’m listening to through CarPlay because I need to pay attention to something that’s happening inside or outside the car. Reading the CarPlay documentation, it seems that it supports such a button, but it’s hard to find a list of cars that have one.

So on my Mom’s recent Honda we’ve (accidentally) discovered that pressing the volume knob like you would to turn off an old radio plays/pauses what you’re listening to.

Give that a try on any car you look at, you may find it works.

Thanks; I’ll double-check but I think pushing the volume button turns the whole infotainment system off. Which does pause whatever’s playing, but also turns off navigation or whatever else I had on the CarPlay screen.

I believe the steering wheel had some basic media controls, but honestly I didn't end up using them very much. I found myself using Siri more than usual so I wouldn't need to spend too much time looking at buttons to figure out what they did, but I think I could get used to more buttons if it was my own vehicle and not a short term rental.

Yes, this is one of my pet peeves too. The steering wheel has volume controls with press-to-mute, then right next to them are forward and back controls... a press on that control would be perfect for play/pause, but alas— no.

My volvo's big central volume control has a large play/pause button in the middle and it works to pause anything that Carplay is playing. There's also a play/pause control on the steering wheel. Overall, my 2016 Volvo does a pretty good job with Carplay integration, though it also has a bunch of native software that mostly sucks in comparison, such as a voice control that I've never been able to use.

So it turns out that if you turn the volume all the way down to zero, it pauses playback. And if you turn it up again, it starts playing. I didn’t test whether navigation messages from Maps can still be heard. Not perfect as it takes a few seconds to do when you might need an immediate pause to avoid distraction, but it’s probably good enough for me.

I really liked Android Auto, but I think a recent update has screwed it up, so that any audio app frequently switches to Amazon Music. (https://support.google.com/androidauto/thread/8646291?hl=en)

Add to the LOOOONG list of "I really liked X but a recent update has screwed it up". It's amazing how often this happens.

This was happening to me (and many others). I disabled notifications in the Amazon Music app and the switching has stopped.

I still get an occasional dropout where the song gets really quiet for a few seconds but my Spotify app keeps running and no longer switches to Amazon Music randomly.

I really just want my car to drive and to last a long time.

Aren’t these screens almost entirely bad? In 10 years, screens in cars will be the new smoking, except that they kill other people, and the NYT will be full of editorials about how they snuck up on society and caused so many accidents - who could have known?

I hope we have self driving cars in 10 years...

You can always add a CarPlay compatible aftermarket infotainment panel.

But then you lose the ability to control various parts of your car, because these are often controlled through the entertainment system...

I think most cars with CarPlay support Android Auto because most systems are essentially Android tablets.

And that's one thing I have noticed, Android pretty much owns the industrial market. Every touchscreen device you see in the wild is basically an Android device. Those payment kiosk things in restaurants, CarPlay, etc.

Well there’s a good reason for this: In this day and age it’s pretty much the ideal option. In fact I think android makes a horrible phone OS (not because it has no good features) but I’ve never had an android phone that didn’t become a battery sucking and unmanageable nightmare. And are high quality audio APIs available (I gave up caring a few years ago)

AFAIC, Android is best suited as an industrial OS. Before android it was Windows CE, which was even bigger garbage than Android, and of course now it is dead.

Alternatives are things like custom rolled Linux (and really why?) and RTOS/GUI platforms like vxworks, qnx.. they have their place. 90% of shit can just use stock android and whatever mods you need.

I love Android as a mobile OS on my Pixel 2; especially with apps like MiXplorer (fully featured file manager). I can't count the number of times being able to plug in a flash drive and copy files to it has saved me.

Subjectively, running Android 10 on a Pixel 2, battery life has never been better, and apps running in the background sucking up my battery hasn't been a problem.

I've used the ubiquitous cheap Huawei and Xiaomi phones, and while they get the job done, the experience isn't nearly as good, as you have to deal with their UI and clutter. Unfortunate.

Linux serves as the hardware abstraction layer for Android. You’re going to need a “custom rolled” kernel for whatever platform you decide to launch in the car.

Yeah, I was just making the observation.

It does make sense, it's pretty customizable and a lot of the legwork is done for you.

I had trouble updating the console in our 2017 Suzuki[0] and extracted the update file - it was QNX

[0] the update instructions say to put the update file on a FAT32-formatted USB drive and plug in. The update file is 6GB and FAT32 has a 4 GB file size limit. Tried exFAT, UFS, and a few other file systems QNX has support for, no go with those.

Last I knew, most of these stereos supporting CarPlay and Android Auto were running QNX, not Android.

Which manufacturer?

I have a Honda Civic and it's definitely an Android tablet shoved into the dash.

Yes, but that has no bearing on the ability of your car to run Android Auto. You cannot run it on the hardware that's built into the car. If you want Android Auto you must project it from a phone or tablet onto the display.

Yes, but the core system is an Android tablet in my car. That is my point. I would imagine that it's the same across Honda's entire fleet.

I was wondering which manufacturer was going QNX instead.

Yep. Honda has been shipping Android based systems since at least ‘16.

Most of the airplane seat-back media centers I’ve used seem to be running Android. Although I was just on an Air China flight that appeared to be using either Windows CE or QNX or something non-standard.

Last time I was on a flight and the infotainment screens all rebooted I saw the familiar Linux boot screen, Tux and all.

Yeah every time I've seen a IFE screen reboot it's been Linux. Some, like on a Singapore Air A380 even had Star Office available for use

You don't need car play it is a crap comparing to, for example, Teala's infotament.

I actually couldn't disagree more, I deeply dislike Tesla's infotainment center. It's a much larger version of "traditional" manufacturer's displays with more functionality that I want shoved into it.

I'd much prefer that display be an extension of my personal device. I don't want a new infotainment ecosystem with the manufacturer's choices baked in, I want the an extension of the one I'm going to keep using when I get out of the car, replete with my personal preferences for things like map applications, music, etc.

This is interesting because I rather like Tesla's nav system and music. The browser is kinda lame but I have a phone for that.

Perhaps it was my coming from the crime against humanity that is CarWings in my old Nissan Leaf. I liked my Leaf, but there was nothing on the center console that wasn't better on my iPhone.

New Nissan Leafs support both CarPlay and Android Auto, thankfully.

From what I’ve seen most cars that support one support the other. It seems to be rare for a car to only support one of the two. Must be easy to implement both of you do one of them.

Most of the systems in-car are android based, so android-auto support is pretty much free; and iThings are so common that not supporting them would likely cost sales.

yeah, I've used Tesla's software, it's garbage compared to android auto.

i prefer my wife's Android Auto ('18 Nissan Rogue) to my '18 Model S :(

Huh, someone else with an '18 rogue.

Does your wife's have an issue where once in a while it refuses to go into AA, and you have to hard-reboot the infotainment system? Mine does this thing where AA icon shows up, touching it does does the click animation, but doesn't actually launch AA.

That's my only real complaint with the system, actually. Once in a while it just really doesn't want to launch AA. Once I'm in though... works great. (Okay, maybe the steering wheel could use a play/pause button, but that's minor)

Definitely has a similar issue now and then.

AA is a different beast than CarPlay.

They're both miles ahead of what you get from Tesla.


good luck figuring out how to turn on your a/c without looking. I loved my old Ford Fusion because it was a touch interface but with raised and lowered plastic so you knew what you were pressing.


the newer fusions replaced controls with actual buttons which looks cheaper and doesn't make it any easier to figure out without looking. probably due to increased failures or simply cost savings

You can use the menu button and scroll wheel on the steering wheel and see the response in the dashboard.

It comes on automatically when needed but thanks.

Cool, so it has an IR camera to sense my body temperature?

Carplay is definitely non-negotiable.

Car companies are NOT in the business of building infotainment systems. They are in the business of building cars. A while back, to compete and differentiate themselves, they all started to build their own touch screen systems with their own custom interfaces. All of them sucked. Even the ones that were the best of their class still sucked. Not only that, every single interface was different. Going from car-to-car meant re-learning a new system. They all have limited resources to throw at this problem so everything is sub-par. It's like going to McDonalds for good coffee -- no, you go to a coffee shop if you want good coffee. McDonalds just provides coffee because they have to. Same is true for car manufacturers.

Trusting the OEM is just a bad idea. It is better for everyone involved to give this responsibility to those who are good at it. Apple and Google both have huge ecosystems of accessories and application developers -- not to mention massive user bases. Apple and Google have entire teams dedicated to integrating with auto makers and ensuring that the experience is consistent across all vehicles.

So why would you want to pay thousands of dollars more to get, for example, a navigation experience on your car that sucks balls? Instead you can plug in your smartphone – which some have arguably more computing power than a lot of commodity PC's sold in the last few years – and have a vastly superior experience.

Too bad none of them differentiated themselves by not putting anything.

I'd love to buy a luxury car that lets me hook up my iPad for all infotainment and GPS. Just give me a nice simple dock that looks good with the rest of the fit and finish.

An iPad is not going to survive in a parked car in the hot sun. Supposedly that's the reason that Tesla's have the "dog mode" aka "Cabin Overheat Protection". Their cars will cool themselves down to prevent the big touchscreens from being destroyed by high temperatures.

Strange - one of my former supervisors had modded his truck's center console to use a Android tablet of some sort (don't recall which one, but it was fairly high-end - maybe one of the Samsungs) - it was basically "built-in" and non-removable; in fact, if you didn't know, you'd believe that it was OEM (it was a very clean install he'd done).

I'm in Phoenix, Arizona - and even in the middle of summer, with the sun beating down and turning the inside of every vehicle into an impromptu slow cooker (seriously - you can slow-cook in your car here in Arizona; that is, if you don't mind your car smelling like a working kitchen afterward), the LCD never had any problems that I could see.

I was honestly very surprised, as LCDs are normally very temperature sensitive (more to cold than to heat - but I would think that the temperatures inside a car in the summertime would be hot enough to cause problems). Usually, though, whatever the temperature - if the LCD has problems, once it comes back within it's normal range it will start working properly again.

Article about Tesla's struggle with industrial grade vs automotive grade with their displays: https://www.thedrive.com/tech/27989/teslas-screen-saga-shows...

Wherever that “supposed” claim comes from is BS. They have the dog mode to prevent dogs from cooking, and you explicitly enable it when leaving a dog in the car. Hence the name.

That, and they would probably be stolen.

That's also a killer idea. A lot of people do this in the aftermarket world, but it would be unreasonable to expect you to "BYOD" for basic infotainment purposes. There needs to be _soemthing_ there for the people who don't have devices, or just need to make a quick run to the store and don't want to grab their ipad and dock it etc...

I bet they could just throw in an iPad cheaper than whatever it costs them to build their terrible custom solution.

It doesn't cost them much. They just mark up the feature when they sell the car because they can.

That was the especially galling part about all these OEM infotainment systems -- they were charging like $1200 for the equivalent functionality of a Kindle Fire.

My 2011 Subaru Forester's "infotainment" is a TomTom GPS with a few extra hooks into the cars radio. It's absolute trash, but you can remove the GPS entirely and the radio/CD player/AUX still works with a small button only interface.

I've dreamed about being able to dock my phone in place of that shitty GPS.

I think Toyota have docking stations as option on some of their cars, but only for rear passengers. Attached to the back of the front seats, for kids to watch stuff on a tablet.

google for 'carname' + "tesla style stereo"

get one before tariffs kick in. you're welcome.

That's called a 2 din car stereo slot :D

Yup. Easily found in economy vehicles but not often in luxury cars.

Porsche CarPlay is fantastic.

I think it’s partially for maintenance/surveillance, depending on your degree of skepticism.

Alternatively, the more bloat they cram into the machines, the more they can charge.

I’d love a car that was just a car, a set of speakers, and A/C.

> I’d love a car that was just a car, a set of speakers, and A/C.

My 2004 TJ is pretty much that - it's dash is reminiscent of the basic dash I had in my old 94 Ranger.

In an original Wrangler (ie - pre-JK, 2 door), the dash is pretty "small" - there isn't a lot of room between its front and the firewall - so while it seems like a lot is crammed in there, it also makes fishing wires and such fairly easy (coupled with the bareness of the interior - custom wiring is a dream - just lay it down and zip-tie it to the rollbar in most cases).

The "center console" area is almost designed to be modded, and plenty of people have done it. But if you want to keep it stock, it is pretty bare-bones. You can even get it with a cigarette lighter -and- a DC power outlet (I should also note that one mod that I've seen was kinda neat - stowing a small inverter behind the passenger speaker area with the "plug" mounted nearby on the side or underneath the dash area).

The downside is that it isn't a new vehicle - but I have the "bulletproof" 4.0 I6 - so even with it's mileage, I'm not worried. There's also the fact that the interior is...spartan (and the body isn't designed to protect you in an accident - not a big deal, as usually most cars that get into accidents with Wranglers disintegrate, while the Wrangler is usually drivable - might have to take a hammer to some parts first). Despite it being basic, though, the AC works incredibly well here in Phoenix!

Oh - and terrible gas mileage - there's that - though having a lift, 33" ATs, and a rear tire carrier don't help either (I've heard that you can get up to 16 mpg with a TJ on stock tires and no lift - but I ain't changing mine - I'm fine with 12 mpg - smiles per gallon, man).

But...but...if you can live with all that...you too can own a wallet that cries itself to sleep every night.

The other problem is, even if the car comes with a good screen experience the manufacturer probably won't update it. (Tesla is good about this but a lot aren't.)

A friend of mine had an early-2000s Mercedes S-class. It was a very expensive car when it was new and still an amazing car in almost all respects -- except for the completely outdated, ugly DVD-based navigation system. He used a dashboard mount for his smartphone instead.

Even luxury cars made less than 10 years ago have screen software that feels very outdated compared to what a new Honda Civic comes with. The cars still drive great, but a significant part of the way you interact with them is obsolete.

I hope both Carplay and Android Auto continue to get regular updates and don't break backward compatibility, so a car that comes with one of those systems today won't feel obsolete in 5 years.

Cars have the same problem many other "smart" products have such as TVs and refrigerators: the technology lifecycle is significantly faster than the overall objects lifecycle.

It's not unreasonable to expect a fridge or TV to last 10 or 15 years. Yet, if it's "smart", and had a top-of-the-line processor put in it 10 years ago, today it would be equivalent to running an iPhone 3G. More likely, it was in development for a couple years, and was based on a cheaper/lower-end/older processor.

Cars have the same problem, but with the non-tech part being 5 digits $$$ instead of 3 or 4.

I think part of the problem is the manufacturers would rather you replace the entire thing (because the processor is outdated). Someone buying a new fridge every 3 years (instead of every 10-15) because theirs won't run the latest apps is great for them.

With cars, Android Auto and CarPlay have so far saved consumers from that nightmare.

> All of them sucked.

I have a Mazda 3 skyactiv which is not a luxury car. The infotainment system is rather very solid. It's very responsive. I almost never had a problem with Bluetooth and I never needed to use the touch screen because the buttons UX is good enough.

Comparing to the other crap I've seen in the same category cars, I'd say the Japanese pulled a hell of a job.

Which year? My 2015 Mazda 3 Grand Touring has a kind of slow system. Boots slowly and a bit inconsistently. I've had lots of problems with Bluetooth (with three different phones, 2 Nexus and a Pixel), and often have to hold 3 buttons in to reboot the software. I've also had it black screen and reboot on its own. That being said, I used Mazda AIO Tweaks software to install Android Auto, and it's largely reliable. It does stutter when switching between music and navigation, and the music even stutters while turning if maps are on... but for the daily commute, it works fine.

I have the same model and if I start the car and walk away with my phone, good luck getting Bluetooth to reconnect thereafter. Have to shut the car down for it to reconnect with the phone. Other than that, everything else is excellent UX wise even the navigation, however it's outdated so phone mount + Waze works great.

Hmm. I never started the car and walked away with my phone. Can't think of a situation where I need to do that. But then my phone is big and doesn't fit in my pocket.

I've also got a 2015 Mazda 3 GT and I absolutely love the system. It boots quickly and works really well. I got the CarPlay upgrade done though. Everyone that gets in thinks my car is brand new.

Is that a Mazda installed system? Do you know what version software you have? I know with mine, I had one of the last versions where a Mazda AIO Tweak install was easy. (Later they make it harder.) So maybe there were some improvements made to the official Mazda software in later versions.

Would also like to know if car play upgrade is possible, I'd love to buy the parts and do it myself.

I bought it in 2018.

the only problem with my 2019 Mazda cx-5 system is that the maps are stuck in 2008. It works, but you still have to go through many levels of menus to search and find destinations. Thankfully it supports carplay.

Every company other than Tesla. Their infotainment + driver assist system is quite good.

Agreed. I'm happy that my Tesla doesn't have CarPlay. I don't need my messages showing up on screen or constantly being read to me, I use driving time to decompress after a day of being social with my coworkers.

I would gladly take CarPlay in my Tesla over the current system. Slacker is fine but it's not great and I prefer my preferences over those that Tesla chooses. On top of that, I have my phone set to DnD while Driving and that would extend to CarPlay also so my messages wouldn't pop up or bother me.

Agreed. I've driven a Bolt with CarPlay and it's better than my Model 3. Tesla's Siri (or any mic input) is ridiculously slow. They're both Google Maps but my phone already knows my locations. Other apps (like podcast app) as others have said is great.

Will a Tesla sync w/ your calendar so that when you get in it to drive to an appointment, it already knows where to take you?

For the record I also use my driving time solely for the purpose of driving. CarPlay doesn’t have to mean annoying interruptions.

Yep. The car has a calendar app which can be configured to pop up on entry. Calendar sync is handled through the Tesla app on your phone, which also acts a share destination for locations (automatically entering the location in the nav system) and other such conveniences.

You can turn on do not disturb if you don't want messages or notifications, you can even make it automatic as part of driving. AND you can get map navigation that isn't in a phone.

No. Every company including Tesla.

Tesla's system might be good right now, but they're unstable fiscally as a company and they have NO incentive to be excellent in designing software and maintaining old software far into the future. And Tesla might go belly-up, at which point their ability to maintain said software declines to zero.


Look at that sales trend line. Rocket ship. They aren’t going belly up any time soon.

Not related to cars, but your comment is exactly what I recently thought about infotainment systems on long haul flights. Annoying, sluggish to the point I don't want to navigate the menu since the response time is in order of seconds, and the UX is terrible in most of those interfaces. Furthermore, the content is randomly added (oh, you like Big Bang theory, here's episode 7 and 12 of the 4th series, and 1 and 10 of the 7th).

I don't know if these systems are outsourced or built in house by the airlines, but they make my blood boil every time. Especially considering that airlines pay the plane 100+ M$ but they save money on putting crappy Android tablets with a bloated software on it...

Like a lot of specialty industries, anything that goes on a plane requires a boatload of certifications and tests. Most consumer electronics companies aren't set up to run that gauntlet, so it falls to companies created specifically to do so. Naturally they tend to be lacking in traditional areas like software quality because they don't have the resources to attend to it.

I am a professional engine mechanic by trade, however during my apprenticeship I worked at a luxury dealership so these complains are painfully familiar to me. Back in the day, it was the BMW I-Drive controller or the center console navigation ring that people hated.

Do you want to know how you can tell if someone can actually afford a luxury car? Its not whether they get good financing, or whether they get options, its whether or not its serviced.

>but I’m equally sure I’d be charged some outrageous fee for that “service”.

You see, actual luxury vehicle owners do not question the price at all. They dont see anything other than the signature box on the invoice. You could for example as I have, charge $190 just to replace the light in the glovebox, and they wouldnt think twice about that amount of money. I was once faced with a BMW owner looking at seven thousand dollars to replace their electronic air-ride suspension, and the hardest decision they had to make was whether they should buy another BMW while this one was being serviced.

Luxury owners rarely see opulence as anything more than a disposable commodity. If they dont like the apps, or if they dont like the stereo, they just buy a different car. A salesman once told me of a woman who traded her 8 month old Porsche in for a BMW because she didnt like the little song the car played when it started up.

I appreciate your first hand experience, but it's not at all what the actual demographics of Audi, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz are.

"Actual luxury vehicle owners" are just the mass affluent. There's really nothing special about them. The upper 20% household income demographics of just about any developed nation. Read the sales numbers for literally any of the German big-three. They're just what you expect. A4s sell more than any other Audi sedan; Q5s sell more than any other Audi SUV.

The typical owner isn't someone with a 7-series.

Makes for a nice story, though. And sure, the mass affluent frequently lease. They also often live beyond or max out their means.

It’s a component that is there.

I used to sell computers at retail. Probably 5% of customers were mega-rich. One guy dropped $50k on laptops and accessories for his kids for Christmas. Another lady paid me about $5k to run some Ethernet cable, build a fancy desk and setup her workspace.

Your entry level rich person is a surgeon. The Ethernet lady owned a half dozen McDonalds.

Your figures surprise me, maybe they’re for the US? I would have expected sales of a1, a3 and q3 to be way higher than the “true” (longitudinal) models

What percentage of luxury car owners do you think are living beyond their means, versus your actual luxury vehicle owners?

I often wonder about the people who drive late model luxury cars, on the rare occasions I see them in my town. Are they killing it? Or did they buy it on finance to compete with the Jonses?

All of the luxury car owners near me are beyond their means, because if they lived here because they’re frugal, they wouldn’t own the car.

My "this is what I'd do if I was super rich" fantasy isn't a ferrari or a rolls royce. It's having a driver. I find car ownership and driving stressful.

And at that point you go and buy a Rolls-Royce or Bentley because you find that they are very suitable for a backseat passenger.

Some people don’t care about the newest, shiny thing. They just want to buy the best thing they like when they’re in the market for it and then use it until it needs replacing.

I don’t know how it is in the US but my dad and the dads of many of my friends here in Spain have owned Mercedes, Audis and BMWs for decades and none of them ever thought like that for a second. I know so in fact, because bitching about official service gouging is a national sport around these parts, and for good reason.

There are plenty of people with more money than those people who would scoff at that kind of stuff out of pure principle, culture or growing up poor.

Or it's a tax deduction because leasing cars are deductible while buying them is not as easily deductible, so it's overall cheaper for them to act that way then to be traditionally money smart about it.

Yeah, I’m definitely not a typical luxury car owner. I got a mid-range car from a high end brand, and I got it at a 40% discount because it was a demo model.

Always buy the demo.

Last two demos I've bought (both German) were both priced around the same as an equivalently specced brand new Japanese model.

Or second hand models that come with full warranties and have low 4 figure mileage. They're as good as new and easily 20% less than new price.

I bought a used ford for $14k with all the bells and whistles and flash an Audi has. luxury is in the eye of the beholder.

That's basically why you might buy a Volkwagen - they even kind-of look the same internally. But there's a noticable difference in driving experience, performance and handling.

Nah, a higher end Ford Fusion is an “American Audi”. Same performance, same handling (with the notable exception being the difference between Torsen and a viscous coupled AWD system)

Compare the fusion to an A4 and you’ll find the A4 feels cheaper. Now an A6 does not compare to a fusion, but a Lincoln continental blows it away.

It’s all in the eye of the beholder (luxury by name, or actual feel of luxury). If anything a Volkswagen competes with Honda these days. Utilitarian and bland... plus Volkswagen will have a random electrical failure that totals the car. Now if you had said Nissan you would have had a point (but the price point doesn’t match Ford)

??? An Audi is literally a more expensive VW. In that it’s the same platform, the same engines and drivetrains etc as VW, Skoda and Seat

I would never buy an A4 as they do seem cheap. An A6 is a very different car to drive. Wife had one the other day as a loan car.

The last Ford I owned was about 16 years ago so I don't know what they're like these days. Swapped it for a Honda Jazz/Fit and more recently I have a Golf. The build quality of the VW was a big step up from the Honda. Simply felt more solid and sturdy. Both have been reliable.

What’s interesting is that VW is a premium brand in germany and Europe. The lineup bein. Audi luxury, VW premium, Skoda utilitarian cheap, and Seat sporty cheap.

Soooo glad my 2007 335i doesn't have that first gen iDrive system. Pretty sure it will up the resale value since it worked like crap and the bump in the dash looked terrible.

Buying a car with too many software bells and whistles is a good way to buy a car that will look old within just a few years. The software built by the car companies is almost never updated in a major way. I remember when built-in GPS was an option for $1-2k extra on a new car... Five years later and the built in GPS interface looks ancient, and isn't nearly as functional as just using your phone anyway. I'll take a phone mounted to the dashboard over built-in GPS any day.

Every car company should provide some basics, like bluetooth connectivity, but aside from that, Android Auto and Apple Carplay are the ways to go. They get updated constantly and are made by companies with stakes in keeping them current. This way, I don't need to purchase a new car to get decent software.

The tesla is the opposite of that. The older teslas have been continuously upgraded to the latest software.

That said, there have been regressions in UI usability and some things that should have gotten attention haven't, such as USB audio.

I should mention USB audio is interesting because it allows you to play uncompressed music in FLAC and Apple Lossless directly (bluetooth does not)

Tesla is almost the exception that proves the rule though.

Someone please come back to this comment in 10 years.

I would go even farther - I don't want a screen in my car. I have enough of that in other devices. Give me a convenient place on the dashboard to attach a phone holder, and provide a nearby USB power port, and I'd be super happy. Focus on making the climate controls work great, and have great Bluetooth, and I'm all set.

Note that backup cameras are now a mandate:

> the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it would require all automobiles sold in the United States built beginning in May 2018 to include backup cameras


I'm with you! This is one reason I keep driving my '92 Rover and don't want a newer car.

Just make sure there's an 1/8" jack, too, so I don't have to deal with Bluetooth.

I feel like we have passed the peak of technology working well. Now my life is full of devices I can't actually get to do what I want or figure out how to use, and every year it gets worse. Crappy TV, crappy car computer, can't seem to manage to get my calendars to sync on all my devices so I'm never really sure if I'm looking at all my events (and let's not talk about trying to get facebook calendars on there), afraid to try upgrading the OS on my Mac laptop cause who knows what the hell it will do...

or wait, is this just what getting old is like? Do the kids these days think everything works great?

I feel like I'm not in control of most of the technology in my life, and most of it is unreliable and unpredictable and has terrible UX.

Eh, not true in my experience. Especially not the getting worse every year part. Things mostly still get better over time - now you can get CarPlay instead of the shitty builtin infotainment systems, and even those get more usable. Smart TVs work a lot better than they used to.

What I’ve noticed is there are still industries that don’t use a lot of computers yet and every once in a while the entire industry all at once decides “we need to force computers on everyone now”. And they do this way ahead of putting any thought into user experience so it usually sucks and you end up dealing with new sources of shitty computer interfaces sometimes I.e. smart TVs. But they do generally seem to get gradually better from there.

I agree. My Smart TV has a problem with the network and needs to be rebooted about once a week. I wish they had a big reboot menu item right in the home screen.

Phone keeps getting jankier and jankier UX as the software gets more and more and bloated (I'm looking at your Chromium and Google Maps). Right now my virtual key presses lag about 5-10s

Pretty much any single technical device or software component in my life malfunctions in several ways. Just last night I rebooted UE4 Editor about half a dozen times when it started rendering black and mouse stopped working. I have a Cardo bluetooth set (for motorcyclists) and every feature in that device is broken/malfunctioning in some way. And I paid 200€ for that. Utter f*n BS.

Steve Jobs greatest contribution was to scream at people to make their shit work. I wish every engineer had a personal stevejobs screaming at him with a red face to make his/her shit work.

Unfortunately the sad fact is.. there's no value in quality to businesses. As long as people buy their shit (and there are no better quality competitors) the added quality would only be an added cost.

I agree. We have amazing tools that are difficult to do interesting things with, because of the nature of modern spyware laden software.

You nailed it. Google Home never hears me, I have to shout at Alexa, they frequently misunderstand me... I just want my lightbulbs to turn on. Light switches don't seem too inconvenient anymore. My TV takes longer to load than a CRT could warm up. My smart security system is cool... until any of the multiple SPoF crap out.

I miss the days when software would ship when it was done. Or as close to done as reasonable. Living in the days of constant updates means I don't know what my phone's UI is going to look like tomorrow.

Hopefully we can find a balance in the coming years.

There's probably some nostalgia in there. I'm not sure computer tech ever worked that great. And probably you never did have calendars synced to all devices - it's just people expect that stuff now.

That said I'm pleased to drive a car with no in car computer.

Haha, I think you've turned the corner to 'old'. I appreciate the awareness of your 'or wait'.

When I was a kid in the 80s every adult I heard complained that they couldn't set the clock on their VCR, but that every 12 year old knew how instinctively.

What's wrong with Facebook calendar? Just get the ical url and add it to your Google calendar

I really resonate with this. It feels like everyone in the "value chain" between you and your product is trying to interpose some software based monthly recurring revenue stream to boost their margins.

The recent story about how Cisco routers would 'phone home' to see if your license for the software was still current and not operate if it wasn't struck me as another absurd example of how lame this can be.

What always astonishes me is that a company like BMW which makes an excellent car can convince itself that it can maintain and operate a software service infrastructure. Just get a few web designers and some coders to whip up an app. Reality is complicated, and what others make look "easy" (Amazon, Google, Azure) has a lot of layers you can't easily "outsource."

Even back in the 90's Sun was fretting over the fact that if you just bought one copy of Solaris with your computer and never upgraded, all those engineers sitting around would just consume cash waiting to do something. Free software has whacked the software business model even further afield.

I have a 2017 BMW X3 with every option. The Bluetooth integration is terrible. It did force me to move my music service to Spotify (which is the only music service BMW supports.) Turns out Spotify is awesome, but BMW's integration of it is awful. Sometimes I travel in complete silence in protest of my BMW's Bluetooth flakiness.

I continue to use it because Sirius XM horrific sound quality is always there, whereas Bluetooth occasional does what it's supposed to.

The BMW Connected app provides more frustration than value. I use it on occasion, when I've forgotten about how terrible it is.

I loathe voice control systems of all kinds, doesn't matter how good they are. I hate both talking to computers and listening to computers "talk". The first thing I do when I get in a new car is turn off the voice.

You can get map updates much cheaper from people hanging out in BMW user Internet forums who sell them for $50. If you're a computer person and can follow instructions you can save a lot of money on map updates.

So long as your car has an AUX port a $10 Bluetooth->AUX dongle will solve your problems - you can bypass the OEM bluetooth completely.

It works wonders for me (similar model to B018WV3F50 on Amazon).

Why not just hook up directly to aux then?

My phone is in my pocket most of the time, I just press play in the dongle to resume music I played at home. Even when it’s hanging on a hook on the dashboard I don’t want to fuss with the wires.

With what? There'no more analog out on smartphones. Also, you're wearing out the plugs over time.

That blows my mind. I bought a 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe and see no reason to use google maps because the factory infotainment is so good. Bluetooth is super reliable. I considered BMW, Audi when shopping but just could not pay $15k more for luxury.

The iDrive system integrates with Amazon Music too.

Huh. I have a 2017 BMW 230i and Bluetooth pretty much works flawlessly for me.

I honestly don't even see the need for screens in a car. I'm perfectly happy with having physical buttons/dials to control my music and AC. I don't need to know anything else other than what's on the dashboard. (speed, rpm, fuel, etc for those who are wondering)

It just seems like a huge waste of time, effort, and money for something that a smartphone can do, all while introducing a mandatory version of a potentially fatal distraction. And it looks shitty and operates pretty terribly.

Maybe this will make more sense if/when cars become fully automated, but it should have no place in a vehicle today, when your attention should be on the road.

This so much for me. My truck has all knobs and buttons, it's extremely easy to adjust anything. No screen but a simple one in the middle (the 8 Matrix screens or whatever they're called)

Meanwhile my wife's car has a full infotainment system and I have to stare at it to figure out what buttons to hit next and it drives me nuts.

That said I'm also partial to removing all screens outside of some kind of GPS. People already don't respect driving their 2-3 ton machine at 100+ feet per second, stop giving them even more reasons to not pay attention to the road.

> 2-3 ton machine at 100+ feet per second

Most dump trucks don't have infotainment modules. Some are lucky to even have seats.

Dump trucks weigh like 20 tons. A "2-3 ton machine" is a typical modern car.

Show me a dump truck without seats.

Maybe you don't, but I'm never buying a car without a 360 camera ever again. It's available in even the cheapest cars, and makes anything parking related both easier and safer.

So this might be an exception to the rule, AFAIK. I know in the US, it's required by law that all new cars require some sort of backup camera.

I think this is acceptable if it's kept to a small screen, or integrated into the rear-view mirror. But, I dont think this should give manufacturers an excuse to add an entire, shitty infotainment system.

My opinion of course, but I have to wonder how many accidents are caused by people staring at their integrated screen of potential death.

I'm going to caution drawing the wrong conclusion there: I would not be surprised if those same people would be involved in accidents if they didn't have large screens, because they'd simply be looking at the phones instead (mounted or in hand, makes no real difference).

Just because your center console _can_ play a film, or show that sportsball game you want to watch, doesn't mean a responsible driver will use it for that. Blaming the screens for irresponsible drivers is probably blaming the wrong thing entirely.

I don't like spending money on cars at all and always buy those for about 3000$ and use them for a few years. I treat them like crap, wouldn't be worth it in my case.

I often use company cars and they are always nice and comfortable, but I didn't encounter any software system I like yet.

I my car I rig my smartphone to the audio and have all features with slightly worse ergonomics.

Maybe interesting for families that often drive on trips but I don't really see the added value yet.

But, it would actually be interesting to get more technical information about the car. But these are hidden by the shitty proprietary software in cases I encountered. And of course you don't get access to maintenance information without manufacturer specific devices...

It was expected that manufacturers try to roll their own systems and try to hide actually useful info in favor of some fucking internet music store. Disappointing.

I just bought a 2000 4runner yesterday. I already can make any adjustments I need without taking my eyes off the road.

I wonder how many collisions/deaths are caused directly by drivers needing to look down at their “infotainment” to do anything at all.

On my 2012 BMW I disabled the iDrive screen. I was even thinking of removing it completely to lower the chances of theft but I was afraid it would mess up some systems.

Interesting, the same argument could be made about said smartphones.

I was just thinking about this in relation to CarPlay last night. I’m so happy to have an interface that 1) isn’t garbage and 2) actually improves throughout the life of my car.

I also know that whatever car I go to, no matter how crappy the entertainment system is I get to use CarPlay and don’t have to worry about the OEM garbage. Slow? Ugly? Confusing? Who cares!

I’ve outsourced the entertainment system to a software company with a clue, and I couldn’t be happier.

My maps are real-time updated by Apple. I can listen to whatever new streaming app comes out next year and takes over the market. I have Siri for voice commands, not the awful thing built into my car.

Sorry car makers, you screwed up for too long. Now everyone just wants to bypass you with CarPlay (or Android Auto).

Unless they start doing the same thing the article describes, charging a subscription for CarPlay.

They literally added extra systems to disable it so they could charge rents.

And the system sucks and is unreliable, so people who pay the rent are regularly told they aren't entitled to use CarPlay.

Well that’s easy, I simply won’t buy a car where CarPlay is a subscription.

The market will decide.

I have a similar BMW.

In my opinion, the sane way to approach cars is to accept that it's an excellent mechanical machine with shit software. Even if they were to do an awesome job, which they won't, over the years the software/screen will get outdated.

The solution is to minimize the software use, and enjoy the car as a mechanical machine, eg. buy the torque-y 30d not the 20d. Eg. I know the map is shit, so I just don't think about it, I have a $2 thing and I mount my phone and that's it. My phone will always have a nicer screen, better software, better 4G, it will always be configured better for me (I get a new phone every year).

On the car, I just use the radio, the bluetooth for Spotify (sometimes it doesn't work), and that's it. Things like "CarPlay" or whatever, voice commands, it's better not to think about it and just enjoy the ride.

The only tech upgrade I'd take on a new car is the surround camera because I'm a shitty parker, but that's it.

Unfortunately - I think what you're seeing here is that people here (especially in this article, on HN, and in general) are not focused on the "driving experience" but more of the "commuting experience". People are not using these vehicles to /drive/ but to /commute/ or just get to a destination. They're no more engaged in driving than they are in flying when on an airplane.

I think the audience for these things are people stuck in bad commutes or long boring trips where they are unengaged from driving.

Very true. My daily commute is 90% autobahn, and not the exciting unlimited speed autobahn, but just regular four lane highways with several speed traps on the way. So get on the road, engage cruise control and keep your lane, not much else.

Having something to listen to actually improves my concentration, prevents my brain zoning out and becoming really inattentive from boredom ;)

This right here. If I wanted a driving experience I would have bought a manual transmission Porsche 911 with the shit radio no serious driver bothers to turn on. But we live in modern times and people drive for work/school/errands is mind-numbing enough. Constantly down/up shifting while the engine drones on near idle would be torture.

To each their own, of course, but I think a car with CarPlay will age much better. The way CarPlay works is that your phone controls most of it, so you’ll be able to take advantage of the yearly iOS updates without getting a new car. Basically a free yearly update for the infotainment system, at least for a good long while.

There’ll probably come a time where Apple phases out support for really old CarPlay devices, but to my knowledge it hasn’t happened yet, and Apple has strong incentives to keep it that way (since they want to give you incentive to upgrade your iPhone, even if you have an old car).

A counterpoint: my personal 2009 BMW with the "professional" navigation has aged exceptionally well having updated the maps only a couple of times. I rent cars very frequently on business trips and have yet to find any (including, annoyingly, newer BMWs) which compare in overall utility and usability unless they have CarPlay. Having said that, it's an absolute given that I will not be buying a new car without CarPlay or the future equivalent thereof.

I had an E61 BMW 5, I think the nav/system/display was good. Now I drive the 4 series and the nav/system is not much different in terms of functionality, it's just a bit more pleasant on the eyes and higher resolution. Overall, it's the same story: I don't rely on it, and when I do use it it's an amusing reminder of in-car software, but it doesn't bother me. I've sat in the newest generation cars in BMW dealerships, and it seems like it's going to be the same story [ignoring things like CarPlay].

> enjoy the car as a mechanical machine, eg. buy the torque-y 30d not the 20d.

Surely if you really wish to enjoy a BMW you buy one with a NA petrol engine ;-)

It's something I think about a lot, but it doesn't seem like a good trade-off. It's more expensive, and for real-world use-cases a torquey diesel seems a more fun fit: in city traffic, I'm going mostly 0-70 km/h, so torque at low revs is good. And when I'm going longer distances on the freeway I'm not accelerating anyway, I like the low rumbling noise of my diesel and fuel economy is good.

It seems to me an M-car mostly makes sense if you're going to the track, which I never do. CMIIW

It was just a tongue-in-cheek comment, hinting at the popularity of the S65 found in the older M3 (also the non-M M54 engine was pretty sweet)

I definitely get the appeal of a diesel! I even enjoy the 8 (?) speed modern 320d/330d. But red-lining a decent petrol engine can't compare.

I'm in agreement but I've not seen this sentiment shared much. A car is a seperate piece of technology to my phone and I've never felt the need to mix the features of them. Call me a luddite but I use the car to drive and that's it. I don't need any software integrations for the way I use it.

I am also in agreement. I want the car to be as mechanical as possible. The ideal phone-car integration for me is a 3.5mm aux jack that lives in the glove box somewhere. I am the kind of driver that will not look at their phone in the car, even at a stop light. Everyone who knows me knows that if I am driving, they should not expect any sort of response from me until I have parked safely. It's sad this has become an exceptional and even controversial stance.

Even the electronic safety nannies that are exclusively part of the car get in my way sometimes. I will intentionally disable stabilitrak and traction control on my car every time I start it up, unless the weather is bad. I also feel safer and more in control if I can feel the road through the steering wheel and don't have things like fly-by-wire keeping me isolated from the physical reality unfolding around me.

I've heard lots of complaints regarding things like lane keep assist being too aggressive and making steering non-intuitive or annoying. Good luck disabling that on a 2019 model year vehicle. Everyone wants to be so goddamn comfortable and disengaged while they are driving their 4000lb death machines around. I really don't get it anymore. What are our priorities?

I would argue turning off traction control feels safer up until the moment it doesn't and then it causes a crash. Traction control is really impressive tech even on older cars and I wouldn't want to turn it off. By "fly-by-wire" do you mean power steering? Driving without that just sucks. I like low-tech interiors but I don't mind newer tech on cars like blind spot detectors and auto-dip headlights. If only you could pick and choose.

My brother turned off traction control on his RX-8, then crashed it into the side of the onramp. Friends don't let friends turn off traction control, unless they're professional drivers.

i used to agree, but i've found a 3.5mm aux cord can fall out quite easily over bumps as the phone gets old. otherwise completely agree.

I sort of agree, but also can't. A car should be good at driving, that's its job. It does something very different from a phone. However, we rarely use cars just to drive. We use them to get places. Especially in cities, that process can be boring.

Phones are very good at offering music, news, and other things that we generally use to fill boredom. I want that option available when I've been in mostly stopped traffic for the last 15+ minutes.

Can it be done without AA/CarPlay? Sure. But it's much more convenient to have the full integration.

Fair enough, I was just giving my driving experience. I don't like to use the car for anything but driving. The most interactive it gets is me putting on a CD.

"over the years the software/screen will get outdated."

This is what they WANT. They want you to buy a new one! It's planned obsolescence only without getting dinged on reliability ratings....

From what I understand, all the electronics going wrong actually dings their reliability ratings considerably. Even minor things like little bugs and software hiccups are considered bad for reliability ratings.

> I used to love that car. It’s the first nice car I’ve owned (in Denmark, there was a 225% tax (VAT included) on cars last I bought one, so most people get the smallest, crappiest car that can work for their needs).

Is this right? Apparently the base price for this car is around $60,000, so this person paid $195,000 ($60,000 + 2.25 * $60,000) for this car?

i can speak to Israel. Base price on cars is more expensive, then you basically pay 100% tax on the base price of the car.

It makes cars a small fortune compared to the US. When I tell Israeli coworkers that I paid about $6K for a 3 year lease of my chevy volt (after state / utility company rebates), their mouths drop. That's basically free to them.

Also in Israel it used to be common that a benefit you got from your company was a car (because it wasn't taxed as income). It could be similar in other european countries? which hides the cost of the car from many of the consumers. Now, Israel taxes cars basically like income so its not as common a benefit you see anymore (employees would rather have cash than a car). The only reason to get a car as a benefit if for some reason the company can get the car cheaper than you could have gotten it yourself.

The "get a car from the job" used to be a common trick in Denmark years ago, but they changed the rules to you get taxed heavily for it, so it there’s not much to gain that way.

I think this was a thing in the US too back when taxes were higher, but of course we went the opposite direction ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

How much is gas in Israel?


I feel that having no desire to spend money on such obviously material objects is a big "easy mode" in my life. It sucks to see so many people fall for all the luxury marketing and then go into debt to finance it.

Sucks? Absolutely not! Everyone who buys an expensive car has that much less disposable income, and won't be able to bid up the housing market to even more extreme heights than the combination of cheap credit and restricted zoning already causes. I hope they buy two.

This tbh. I see a car as an appliance to get from point A to point B.

Sure some cars are sexy and go fast, but you can't push them to the limit on the street, you're not on a track.

You may have missed the part where the author of the article lives a short drive from German autobahns, or perhaps you don't count driving in excess of 220 km/h as pushing the car to its limits.

In Denmark, I would have, but I bought it after I moved to Switzerland, so I only paid a modest 8% VAT on the car.

Also, it was a demo-car, the price was around $42'000.

No, he said it's the first nice car he's owned. Then he listed why - the tax in Denmark. The obvious inference is that he no longer lives in Denmark.

According to the author blurb, he's in switzerland now. The 225% VAT in Denmark is why he'd never gotten a luxury car before and instead just got the cheapest thing that could fulfill his needs.

I can't believe the electorate tolerates this kind of thing over there.

Denmark scores 1st as best country to live in so they must do something right.

If you're referring to the United Nations World Happiness Report, know that the metrics they use to measure those scores are literally just a measure of how socialistic a country is.

Does socialism make people happy?

Not necessarily.

And we can't believe you guys over there tolerate that homeless people in the streets or no free health care is a thing.

Yes, in Denmark you buy a car and pay the same amount in taxes, and then you pay half of that in taxes on top ;)

There is an exception for cars under 10.000, I think there the taxes are around 95%.

For that reason, Denmark is full of super small cars and well serviced bigger and older cars.

Yet, I guess the author now moved to Switzerland, at least the number plate does not look danish at all.

The vat is based on the import/manufacture price, and not the retail price, that you pay in other countries.

The eu vat directive requires it to be based on the retail price

He said he's leasing it. Whatever that means in terms of the tax application.

It's a lease, I think. He mentions it in the article.

That must be wrong, I have the petrol equiavalent, a 320i and it cost me £32K brand new in the UK.

The 320i starts at £57K in Denmark

Why don’t people buy cars in Germany or Sweden with such tax?

Because the government of Denmark has presumably thought of this obvious loophole and found a way to close it. I assume if someone buys a car in Germany or Sweden and wants to register it at their address in Denmark, the Danish bureaucracy says "sure, we'll give you the registration papers as soon as you pay the 225% tax on the purchase price of your new car".

It's similar when you buy a car in Oregon (no sales tax) and want to register it in Washington (10% sales tax). If that was a way around paying the tax, every single person in the state would be doing it. The government has thought of this as well. And if you say "oh, I'm even smarter than that, I simply won't register the car in Washington", that gets you a felony conviction when you're caught.

It's almost as if governments can anticipate some obvious loopholes and close them.

They have indeed. If you reside in Denmark, you are required to have Danish license plates (and thus to pay the aforementioned tax). Even if you have your official residence in Sweden, but you stay the night in Denmark a little too often, the tax authorities will deem that as residing in Denmark.

The chances of getting caught are high. If someone who dislikes you notices a car with Swedish plates staying the night too often, they might report you, and the fines for violation are terrifying, the tax itself with 50% on top if memory serves.

There's a legal way to avoid this sort of thing, which is to buy a cheap but upgradable vehicle and retrofit "parts", which usually aren't taxed at the same rate. The most famous example of this sort of thing is the "Chicken Tax":


So as a private consumer instead of buying a $100k BMW and that ends up costing $225k you'd buy the $100k one, and an entry level $50k base model, and have $75k left to spend on moving parts over before you'd break even.

When that's considered tax fraud and when it's considered perfectly legal will differ by country. I assume it isn't illegal for danes to buy a new engine, seats etc. for their existing cars without needing to change the VIN.

Exactly what happens in the Netherlands. Ford Mustang Ecoboost is €70k, a GT is €111k. For the difference of €41k you can easily put in a V8 with over 500 horsepower, change the wiring harness, change the ECU, brakes, suspension. For less than a GT you can pimp out your EcoBoost and create a better car.

> has presumably thought of this obvious loophole

So you don’t know

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