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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Microsoft CEO Search Rumors

Now that Alan Mulally is out of the running, where does Microsoft look for their new leader?

image2993A lot of wind was taken out of a great many sails in the past couple of weeks. Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Company and thought to be the front runner in Microsoft’s highly visible CEO search, recently took himself out of the running for the Redmond, WA company’s top spot. Now the whole world is wondering what Microsoft will do; and what direction they will head in.

Yes. Microsoft could promote Satya Nadella. That’s still a huge possibility.   Based on Mulally’s removal, I’m certain that many – if not most – people are expecting Microsoft to quickly march in that direction. However, that may not be the case.   Based on Mulally’s removal, if Nadella was the front runner, this would be a done deal by now.

I think many folks – including those that inhabit Wall Street – are wanting and expecting Microsoft to hire from the outside for this role.   I know many in the tech journalism field are a bit happier with those prospects than with the idea of promoting from within. It has nothing to do with Nadella – what he can or cannot do.   It has more to do with breaking away from the old guard and starting anew with someone who has a clear understanding of either how to rebuild troubled organizations (as Mulally did) or with someone who has a decent enterprise and mobile computing vision (as Ballmer never had).

Current word on the street is that Microsoft is  currently considering Hans Vestberg, CEO of Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson for software maker’s the top spot, at least all this, according to Bloomberg. The report, published  2014-01-16, indicated that Vestberg was a “media-savvy technology fanatic,” though many on Wall Street would find his candidacy a surprise.   However, with potential external candidates evaporating, I’m not surprised with anyone that Microsoft may give consideration to.

No matter how you slice it, Microsoft is expected to name a new CEO early in Q1 2014. The biggest hurdle that the new CEO will have, is not turning the company around, but likely that both Ballmer and Gates will retain their seats on the Board.   I can’t imagine any CEO wanting the company’s two previous CEO’s scrutinizing and critiquing their every move.   Ultimately, this may be why Mulally passed on the role.

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Step on it, Already

Microsoft’s Board moves its CEO search towards the end

Bloomberg is reporting that Microsoft’s CEO search is nearing an end.   The company’s board of directors will narrow its previous list of candidates (set at 8) to 3 to 5, according to the news outlet. That meeting, scheduled for  2013-11-18  takes place one day before Microsoft hosts its annual shareholders meeting not far from its headquarters, in Redmond, WA.

image2993

In a bid to keep or improve the momentum its stock saw since Steve Ballmer announced his departure within 12 months,   Microsoft will quickly advance its search forward.   Microsoft’s stock has jumped 17% since that announcement in August 2013. The company’s board would be negligent to allow it to fall off or stagnate.

There’s also been a great deal of criticism that many of the recent changes that Ballmer has enacted over the recent months, including the company’s focus change from boxed software to devices and services, its recent reorg – which was extensive – as well as its acquisition of Nokia’s handset business and the abandonment of its “stack ranking” employee evaluation system, would box the new CEO in and narrow their choices.   The fear is that this would effectively make them a replacement and not a successor.

The intent is to get a replacement in place by the end of the year.   If the selection process moves into 2014, then ValueAct’s president, G. Mason Morfit, a newly appointed board member, will have a more active voice in the choice of CEO as part of the recent agreement ValueAct and Microsoft entered into in August 2013. ValueAct Capital instituted a potential proxy fight and as part of the agreement to avoid that, Microsoft and ValueAct entered into an agreement that included a board seat for Morfit. The “more active voice” clause is also part of the deal, according to a filing with the SEC.

My friend Preston Gralla   had some  interesting ideas  on who that person might be. His take, and I agree with much of it, is that Microsoft needs a complete remake. That would kill nearly every internal candidate (Satya Nadella, Kevin Turner, and my speculation on a third internal candidate – Julie Larson-Green) as well as Stephen Elop.   Elop may be coming directly from Nokia, but he’s a former Softie, and was once part of the culture that needs to so drastically change. If I were a member of the MS Board, while Elop may institute change, I would be afraid that it wouldn’t be a big enough change.

That leaves just two real candidates – former Skype CEO Tony Bates and Ford’s Alan Mulally.   I honestly like both. While Bates may have the tech experience and the entrepreneurial drive that might be needed, I think Mulally is the better choice.   He has the corporate experience with a larger organization in Ford and has brought about the kind of rapid change that the MS Board wants. Mulally can always tap Tony Bates for COO, too; which would give the organization the best of both worlds.   It just may be the winning combination that Microsoft needs at this time.

I don’t want to push Kevin Turner out of a job, but in the end, it may be the right choice for Microsoft. If there isn’t another good spot for Turner within the organization, I’m certain he and his family won’t starve to death. Microsoft would likely take care of him if that scenario came about.

I’ll have more on the CEO developments at Microsoft as they become known. Please watch Soft32 for more on this developing issue.

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