A Vision for iOS in the Car

The key to getting this right is understanding Apple’s iOS vision and how people want to use the iPhone while driving.

I am a huge smartphone advocate. I’ve been using [modern] mobile devices since 1996. I’ve been using my smartphone in my car (I’ve had more than a few, with and without proprietary hands free kits (HFK’s)) since 2004.  I have exposure to the automotive industry that goes back 46 years, thanks to my father. He worked for Ford, American Motors, Chrysler and finally Toyota before retiring in 2009 and spending well over 44 years in the automotive industry.

To put it bluntly, I’ve been around cars and electronics all my life, and I have a clear, solid vision for how iOS in the Car should be implemented.  There’s a bit that’s fleshed out and some stuff that I’m still trying to wrap my hands around.  However, I wanted to get all of it down before it evaporated or before someone else got it “out there.”

A lot of what you’re going to see is going to come in outline form, as opposed to narrative, as its easier to capture in outline form.  That format still allows me to provide background information and additional narrative as necessary, without muddying up what I’m trying to get across.

2013-ford-flex-EcoBoost-steering-wheel

iOS in the Car is about a couple different things – automotive supported hardware, Apple iDevice integration and iOS and other Apple services integration (think iCloud). The concept should be accessible in all vehicles, not just built into new vehicles at point of manufacture (PoM).  The kits required to put this into older vehicles can be as elegant as a new console (if needed or desired) or as simple as a universal device holder. It just depends on how you want to do it, and how much you have or want to spend on it.

Most importantly, it should work with any iPhone that runs iOS 7.  While I have a vision of a dual screen (dash as well as secondary/navigation driver’s display) configuration, the whole thing should work regardless of the number of driver screens in the vehicle. Some manufacturers aren’t going to build in, and some users may not want, an electronic dash.  Most of the data provided by that screen can either be captured via accelerometer, ODB2 or other means.

  • Hardware Interface
    iPhone is the key. It contains all of the communications capabilities that you’d want or need for this baby to work.  While cellular iPads have mobile connectivity, until all mobile carriers provide VoIP services, you’re going to need a smartphone instead of a tablet.  iPods also don’t do cellular. An iPod with cellular connectivity is called an iPhone. Docking and powering your iDevice for iOS in Car is also going to work a lot better with the smaller iPhone as opposed to an iPad. Even the iPad mini is too big for this purpose, I think.
  • Docking your iPhone. Not iDevice. iPhone. Period.
    • Should support both 30-pin and Lightning connections
      • iPad/iPad mini is too big to dock
      • iPod Touch doesn’t provide complete communications
      • iPad doesn’t provide complete communications (cellular iPads can’t make calls…)
      • iPhone screen should go dark upon docking
        • activating the iPhone screen displays iOS in Car logo and directs user to the iOS in Car display(s)
      • Primary screen provides standard vehicle info
        • Shows speedometer, odometer, tachometer, etc.
      • Secondary screen built into dash
        • Limited touch interface
        • Main iOS interface is replaced with iOS in Car. This is not meant to be a hard wired iPad in your vehicle
      • Audio Interface
        • Communications should be completed via in car speakers
        • All audio should be completed via 30-pin or Lightning connector, if possible
  • Built In at PoM
    • Siri integration with external microphone
    • Built in docking mechanism
      • Completely secures and encases iPhone
      • Hides iPhone, with appropriate ventilation
      • Powers iPhone
      • IPhone must be docked to activate any iOS in Car functionality, and must be done while car remains in Park.
    • Automatically starts iOS in Car
    • Main vehicle display
      • Shows speedometer, odometer, tachometer, etc.
    • Secondary display
      • Activates only when needed, unless actively navigating
      • Automatic App functionality built in (via acquisition)
  • Displays OBD status
      • At startup
      • As faults detected
  • Displays Automatic trip information when vehicle is shut off and has changed GPS location
  • Provides State accepted emissions records for sanctioned emissions testing
  • After-Market Add-In
    • Siri integration with external microphone
    • Docking mechanism
      • Hides iPhone, with appropriate ventilation if hidden
      • Powers iPhone
    • Automatically starts iOS in Car
    • Supports all software functionality outlined below
    • Secondary screen functionality only
      • 3rd party display
      • End user provided permanently mounted, iPad mini
  • iOS in Car functionality limits iPad mini functionality when car’s transmission is in Drive
    • Rear seat Entertainment Center functionality is disabled unless vehicle owner provides AirPlay compatible devices for the back seat(s)
      • IPad mini providing secondary screen functionality (as noted above) will not play video
    • OBD2 Compliant
      • Must be connected into car’s ODB2 port (hard wire, or BLE)
      • Automatic App functionality built in (via acquisition)
  • Displays OBD status
    • At startup
    • As faults detected
      • Provides State accepted emissions records for sanctioned emissions testing
    • Does nearly everything that PoM solution does (except as noted), but the docking solution may not be as elegant.

The aftermarket solution should be Apple designed at least, I think. It may or may not work best with a dash or console replacement.  It could also work as a “car radio” type device that requires you to insert your iPhone like an audio cassette to save space, prevent a console or dash replacement, and to save space.  I know the console or dash replacement is a bit extreme and likely not an option for many, but it would be a really cool solution; and it would give your older vehicle a nice interior upgrade.

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