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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Consumer vs. Enterprise Windows

It’s a different kind of pane…

I’ve been involved in software for quite some time. Not to blow my horn or anything, but I’m a methodology and process engineering expert. I specialize in identifying process disconnects within the software development life cycle; and then help organizations identify the best ways to reconnect them.

I’ve seen a lot of talk over the past few days about Microsoft Threshold, or a unified approach to Windows that would bring everything together under one development cycle for Phone, Consumer and Enterprise Windows. Today, I got a refreshing look at the other side of the coin from one of my favorite People, Mary Jo Foley.

image2993

So…the first question on your mind has to be, “Well, that’s great, Chris.  How the heck are these two things connected?”  Good question…   Right now, except for Phone and RT – which is scheduled, to make an exit soon – all Windows development is connected.  Both consumer and enterprise versions of Windows have the same feature sets, underpinnings, back end hooks, etc.  With many hardware manufacturers concentrating more on the consumer market, keeping your enterprise product hooked to a consumer-focused, lean back device doesn’t make sense in a lean forward product line.

The needs of the [consumer]… are different than those of the enterprise. Consumers want to be current on everything, all the time, every day, out loud. The more current your security patches, virus updates and apps are, the more secure and virus free YOU are.  When it comes to keeping your personal, private data (like passwords and financials) personal and private, this is usually the best way to go.

IT professionals don’t always feel that way. While they have other security tools  available to them to insure that their networks are safe, they usually prefer static environments to rapid change.  With so much diversity in critical, operational apps from department to department, division to division, their focus is keeping the work progressing forward and not rapid OS changes. It’s easier to control the changes and insure that work gets done than to allow OS level changes into the enterprise that may conflict or create compatibility issues with business critical apps. They prefer policies and security restrictions so they may control when upgrades are applied.

From a use case perspective, this makes sense.  Consumers want all the latest and greatest features.  Professionals and people at work just want what they need to get the job done to work without having to wrestle with things.

This also makes a great deal of sense from a life cycle perspective.  Originally, both consumer and enterprise Windows were kept on the same development and feature life cycle so that people at work would be able to use the same version of Windows at home.  However, due to the implementation of Active Directory and Policy Manager, Windows at work and Windows at home have never quite felt EXACTLY the same.

Since PC use is declining in favor of a more slate-tablet form factor, and traditional computing is likely going to stick around at the office for quite some time (at least in the more conservative industries that I find myself working in – healthcare IT and State Government), splitting these user types into different Windows versions makes a lot of sense to me.  The only thing that I hope doesn’t happen is that they become so divergent that you can’t put the business form of Windows on your compatible, consumer tablet/device/PC.

According to Terry Myerson, the new head of the unified Windows team at Microsoft, the goal is to build one Windows platform that runs all compatible devices. However, that doesn’t mean “one OS to rule them all.” The UI’s may be different, the features may be different, but the underlying codebase – and more importantly, the cloud services – will be the same.

Strategically, this is very sound.  I’m going to have to reserve judgment until I see the tactical deliverable, however.  Post Windows 8.1, the picture gets fuzzy. However, between now and Spring of 2015, there should be two more Windows releases – in the Spring of 2014, there should be a Win8.1 Update 1 (or some such named animal) that will more appropriately align Windows and Windows Phone.  “Threshold,” or the next version of Windows, is the version slotted for Spring of 2015 and there’s very little that’s really known about it, its direction, etc.

At the end of the day, having this kind of desktop OS split from Microsoft isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s actually a return to a previous practice for them. Windows ME, back in 1990-blah, blah, blah was the last truly consumer version of Windows (Win95) before an updated version of Windows NT (Windows 2000, if you remember…) was released and became very popular with consumers, due in large part to is enterprise focused stability.

Do you think Microsoft returning/splitting its focus with Windows between consumers and the enterprise is a good or bad thing?  Can you support your argument?  I’d love to hear what you have to say.  Why not join me in the discussion below and tell me what you think of this interesting development.

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Microsoft Behind the [Mobile] 8-Ball

An interesting development – Bill Gates admits that Microsoft’s mobile strategy is clearly a mistake

windowsphone_en-us_how-to_wp8_news_spotify-news-3-460x460I’ve been saying it for years – since about 2004 actually – Microsoft has no idea what they want (at the time Windows Mobile, and now) Windows Phone to be when it grows up. They have no idea how tablet computing fits into the “mobile” picture. Apparently, according to an interview by CBS This This Morning/60 Minutes and article by Preston Gralla, Bill Gates agrees.

Honestly, it’s about time.

Microsoft has this ugly habit of wanting the [computing] world to conform to Windows, and it’s clear the world has moved on. If Microsoft wants to stay not only relevant, but profitable, it’s going to have to accept this and develop a mobile strategy that correctly and appropriately positions and empowers them. Right now, they don’t have a [mobile] clue.

In his article, Gralla says,

If Microsoft had done mobile right years ago, the iPhone never would have gone on to become such a success, and Apple would not be the dominant player in mobile. Microsoft would own mobile as well as the desktop.

I happen to agree. The world was thirsting for a smartphone or mobile device that converged the items they wanted in one place – PIM data, music, video, internet, etc. – into a single device. Microsoft had Exchange ActiveSync, WMP and an a couple different integrated content stores. It had an established application catalog in a number of different vendors, such as Handango. Had it understood how mobile should have worked, it could have gotten to the party first and taken everyone down the mobile path via their vision.

Unfortunately, Ballmer didn’t (and in my opinion, still doesn’t) understand the mobile computing market. He may be a brilliant marketing and businessman, but mobile is something that has escaped him from the get-go. What is needed from Microsoft at this point are big, bold moves powered by their branding and most importantly, their checkbook. Ballmer needs to find someone in the mobile market he trusts and then must let them define the vision and strategy

If Microsoft doesn’t get its mobile act together and define a clear mobile strategy that augments and is not encompassed by Windows, it may find itself permanently behind [the 8-ball], and eventually out of the game entirely.

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Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems – #3: Where the Heck is Microsoft?

In the Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems #1 and Navigating the Mobile Landscape: Ecosystems #2 we’ve been talking about why Ecosystems and mobile devices. The big question that many of you are probably asking is, “Ok… so what’s the big deal? Why do I care about this? We’ve been through Amazon and Google pretty thoroughly.

The one remaining player, Microsoft, has been pretty much out of pocket on all of this. Let’s briefly talk about why.

Bringing it all Together – Where the Heck is Microsoft?
Over the past few years, Microsoft has really struggled with mobility. Quite frankly, it doesn’t know its own butt from a mobile hole in the ground. Its pathetically sad, really. They had this market sown up and they let it slip away from them. Ballmer is a huge part of this problematic equation for Microsoft. He just doesn’t get mobile computing.

When Microsoft introduced Exchange ActiveSync with Exchange Server 2003, as a directed salvo aimed directly at RIM and Blackberry Information Server and Blackberry Enterprise Server, it did more than just hit RIM where it counted the most (in their wallet), it actually won the ecosystem war, really before it started, and didn’t know it.

Exchange ActiveSync (the PIM synching FOUNDATION of the ecosystem) did what BIS/BES did for Blackberry, it did it for all Windows Mobile based devices, and it did it for free, totally undercutting RIM’s revenue model. Today, RIM finds itself nearly unable to recover from this 8 year old wound. To add salt to it, Microsoft has licensed the basics of Exchange ActiveSync to both Apple and Google, bringing push to the iPhone and to every Android device, literally, everywhere.

As for the rest of the ecosystem – music, multimedia, ebooks, pictures etc. – Microsoft sorta had that in place with the Zune and the Zune Marketplace, but killed the Zune a couple years ago. The Zune Marketplace has struggled for any kind of identity since. Microsoft hasn’t cultivated new or tended any existing content distribution agreements that I’m aware of.

Further, Microsoft also killed Windows Mobile in favor of Windows Phone. The platform may be superior to its predecessors from a developer’s point of view, but Windows Phone has failed to gain any real traction with consumers since its introduction. While Microsoft and Nokia have partnered to introduce new hardware on MS’ updated Mango release of the platform, its largely seen as a last ditch effort to save both companies.

As far as a tablet is concerned, Microsoft just can’t seem to get past the, “put the whole OS on a mobile device” stance. No one wants a full blown version of Windows 7 or Windows 8 with its strange metro UI on a tablet. Consumers are telling manufacturers they truly want a companion device, not one device to rule them all, and Microsoft simply isn’t listening.

The best thing that Microsoft can do for itself is:

  • Ditch Windows 7/8 on a tablet and pull together a version of Windows Phone that will work on a tablet styled/sized device
  • Breathe some life into the Zune Marketplace for music, movies and TV shows. Insure that multimedia store apps are tightly integrated into Windows Phone and Windows Tablet (a working name, for lack of any other)
  • Adopt an ereader app and format as its designated platform and go with it. It doesn’t matter what format they choose, but they need to pick on and promote the hell out of it. Please don’t reinvent the wheel or try to bring back Microsoft Reader. It died a long time ago and we don’t need to splinter the ebook market any further
  • Develop Windows Live Essentials components for Windows Phone and Windows Tablet. They also need to update Windows Live Essentials for desktop Windows to include the sync support for WLE.
  • Give the sh…, uh, I mean stuff… Give the stuff away. Off branded Android tablets are doing well because they’re part of the Android ecosystem; but they’re cheap. The HP Touchpad sold well in the Fire Sale because it will make a GREAT Android tablet and again, they were cheap. Microsoft doesn’t have the luxury of brand or eliteism like Apple does. It doesn’t have the install base like Google’s Android does. It needs to get into the market and saturate it – Buy a Windows Phone, get a Windows Tablet, and vice-versa. That kind of thing. If it doesn’t do this, it may as well not even try. All they’re going to do is create a huge charge and/or write off for the company and their stockholders

Based on all of this, what should you get your loved ones for the Holidays? Come back next time, and we’ll start talking about that.

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Manage all the contents of your mobile devices and mobile phones with Mobile Master

My smartphone is my life. I live in my phone. If I were to lose it, I don’t know that I’d know which end of my life is up. I rely on my phone to keep track of all of my PIM (Personal information manager) data, which is what Mobile Master helps you do. It’s a PIM data management application for your phone.

Years ago – back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s – the only way to get data from your PIM management system, say Outlook or Lotus Notes, to your organizer was to use some kind of synching software like ActiveSync or Palm Desktop, depending on the type of PDA you had. This became even more important once PDA’s turned into smartphones (or what we at that time called a converged device).

While many people are using smartphones that today either use BIS/BES (Blackberry Information Server or Blackberry Enterprise Server) or Exchange ActiveSync (Google and Gmail, as well as Apple’s iPhone both license Exchange ActiveSync to make Push work for their operating systems), not everyone uses a smartphone.  This is where applications like Mobile Master come in. It’s an application for mobile phone management and SMS communication that can be used to exchange data between mobile phone and PC, via cable, infrared, or Bluetooth.  The system automatically detects the mobile phone and assigns it its own profile, making it possible for you to manage several phones on the same PC, with the same data, without creating chaos with that data. A programmatic assistant helps you configure and manage all the settings. Even users with little to no prior mobile device knowledge can, download their phone’s address book, calendar, email and tasks to and from their phone and PC with just a few mouse clicks.

Mobile Master supports most phones by Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola, Samsung or BenQ Siemens; and supports email clients and contact programs like Outlook, Lotus Notes, Palm Desktop, Thunderbird, Tobit David, Eudora, The Bat! and Outlook Express. Mobile Master also supports Novell GroupWise. To check if your phone is supported, take a look here: here.

Download Mobile Master

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