InCar Entertainment  - - NEWS - Ed Kramer Edi­tor

Sift­ing through al­most count­less CES 2017 press re­leases, my cu­rios­ity was piqued by an in­ter­est­ing claim that seemed con­trary to what I would have es­ti­mated to be the sta­tus quo. The re­lease sug­gests that the in-car in­fo­tain­ment mar­ket is see­ing a slow de­cline in fac­tory-in­stalled GPS nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems. It seems this trend is favour­ing smart­phonebased app nav­i­ga­tion. I would have guessed that with in­creased so­phis­ti­ca­tion, im­proved user func­tion­al­ity and re­duc­tions in man­u­fac­tur­ing costs, the op­po­site would have been the case. But ac­cord­ing to Ford Mo­tor Co. (more specif­i­cally), not so, and the com­pany is lis­ten­ing.

After demon­strat­ing its next-gen au­ton­o­mous driv­ing tech­nol­ogy at CES 2017 Ford fol­lowed up with its lat­est think­ing in in-car con­nec­tiv­ity. With the in-app nav­i­ga­tion trend in mind, Ford has de­vel­oped a sys­tem al­low­ing driv­ers to project the phone screen’s dis­play on to the ve­hi­cle’s in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. While Mir­rorLink may be ef­fec­tively de­funct and Ap­pRa­dio con­tin­ues – ar­guably less­ened – the newer CarPlay, An­droid Auto and Ken­wood’s ‘Air Mir­ror­ing’ via Wi-Fi – Alpine has a sim­i­lar of­fer­ing here – prom­ise sim­i­lar func­tion­al­ity to Ford’s own sys­tem.

“The take rate on nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems has been drop­ping con­sid­er­ably in re­cent years. Driv­ers have found it eas­ier to en­ter their des­ti­na­tion ad­dress on their phones, and rely on smart­phones even if they are more dis­tract­ing. Smart­phones are so con­ve­nient,” said Ron Mon­toya, con­sumer ad­vice edi­tor at Ed­munds, “I can see why peo­ple would not want to get nav­i­ga­tion.”

Ford dis­played its ‘Ford Fu­sion Hy­brid’ re­search ve­hi­cle which fea­tured a num­ber of tech­nolo­gies such as self-driv­ing hard­ware and soft­ware and in­te­gra­tion with Ama­zon’s Alexa, which can con­trol func­tions such as un­lock doors, re­mote-start the car, or­der items on­line from the car and more.

In ad­di­tion, an app de­vel­oped in con­junc­tion with Sy­gic is the means by which the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is able to dis­play the smart­phone’s screen. (Of course more so­phis­ti­cated HUDs are the nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion). This fea­ture pro­vides clear and large nav­i­ga­tion in­for­ma­tion which, by pre­vent­ing the dis­tract­ing ref­er­enc­ing to the phone and look­ing away from the road, re­sults in a safer driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Ac­cord­ing to Colin Bird, a se­nior an­a­lyst at IHS Au­to­mo­tive, about two-thirds of new car buy­ers who own a smart­phone use it for nav­i­ga­tion at least once a month. Con­se­quently, em­bed­ded nav­i­ga­tion buyer num­bers have re­mained static and the fac­tory nav­i­ga­tion op­tions – which can be priced from $500 to over triple that – have been taken up mainly in the lux­ury sec­tor.

“The main draw of smart­phone nav­i­ga­tion apps, such as Google Maps and Ap­ple Maps, is con­ve­nience” Bird said, “They pro­vide re­al­time traf­fic in­for­ma­tion, can be ac­cessed out­side of the car and are usu­ally free. The one down­side is dis­trac­tion with driv­ers look­ing at their phone while driv­ing to read di­rec­tions, which Ford ad­dresses with the func­tion­al­ity of pro­ject­ing the app in the car.”

Google’s An­droid Auto and Ap­ple CarPlay also al­low driv­ers to use nav­i­ga­tion apps on the ve­hi­cle screen, but users are lim­ited to those pro­pri­etary apps with­out con­sid­er­a­tion for in­de­pen­dent af­ter­mar­ket op­tions.

My iPhone 6s is loaded with the ex­cel­lent Nav­igon app, among a cou­ple of oth­ers, so here’s hop­ing that the Ford sys­tem trick­les into its own ve­hi­cles soon and is soon after adopted by other au­tomak­ers far and wide…

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