Infotainment Systems and iPhones- A Rant

Car radio systems used to be simple. AM radio, one or two speakers, a dial and a few knobs. Fast forward to the 80's and things start getting a little more complicated. You have digital displays, FM radio, 8 tracks, Cassettes and more speakers. Go forward another 10-15 years to the 90's and things get even more complicated. CDs, Digital processing, and Surround sound come in. You get to the 2000's and in comes big screens with GPS navigation, you have aux inputs and big amps. Having the A/C and car systems start being connected in to and controlled through the same screen becomes common. Things are starting to get way complicated.

Fast forward all the way to today, Phones are starting to provide major services, and universal aux jacks are starting to disappear, being replaced with proprietary connections.

Technology is being developed to have your whole infotainment system be your phone, just mirrored on the cars screen. This is an Enormous step forward and allows more intuitive and natural controls, something cars have really been missing. The public has been screaming for this for years.

All this technology though, has one big problem.

It is completely proprietary.

A lot of the new systems that are coming out now only work with either the iPhone or Android. This means most new cars are alienating nearly half of the population. Currently over 52% of people own Androids, with iOS being around 40%. Cars aren't only using phones for music and entertainment; they are becoming essential parts of the system, proving data connections and other services. Some new systems, as mentioned above, completely rely on a phone for the entire infotainment system. This means that in a few years, when you get your new phone, your cars entire infotainment system will have completely changed, or not be compatible at all.

Planned Obsolescence is slowly coming to cars and is even worse than you might think. Take Apples recent switch to the Lighting connector as an example. With this change, every car with a 30 pin connector became obsolete. Even with an adapter, most of these systems do not work properly with the new phones. Many months later, you could still buy a car with the old adapter. (Even Bentley took months to update) Technology in cars just can't keep up with technology. The product cycles of cars can be 5 or 6 times longer than that of a phone, leaving even new cars in the dust. For some people, this might not matter, because they update their cars almost as often as they update their phones, but for most people this may become a big issue.

The way that cars currently use phones does not take the future into account, and will require many slow and probably late updates down the line, and eventually they will stop being updated and go down the hole of obsolescence. This will create a generation of used cars with nearly useless infotainment systems. I may be exagerating a bit, but it is something that has never really been the case before. Even cars with cassette decks are still useful because of cassette adapters, and cars with aux jacks, and even USBs will always have a way to play music.

Don't get me wrong, I love technology and want cars to continue to get better, I mean, I myself am a computer science major. This might not be the most popular opinon, and you may have never even thought about it, but it is something that needs to be adressed.

All I am asking is that car companies start designing systems that will still function in ten years, when technology has moved past anything we can even imagine today. If they could do it ten years ago, why couldn't they still do it now?