The connected car industry might not disrupt the mobile phone market — at least not yet, but it is definitely changing the way we use our mobile devices. From apps that bridge car and smartphone to mobile OS systems designed to interface with connected vehicles, we are seeing a rapid merger between car and smartphone technologies.
In this article, we take a look at five ways the connected car revolution is impacting the smartphone. We also examine what a few top smartphone companies are doing to make their devices ready for the road.
1. Connected Car OS Via Smartphone
The connected car revolution has not been lost on Apple. On the contrary, in less than four years, the tech giant has grown a little-known iOS 4 feature, called “iPod Out,” into a dashboard OS that is included in more than 200 vehicle models.
Apple CarPlay system mirrors the driver’s smartphone apps and features onto the infotainment system of the vehicle. By giving drivers access to their phone through the dashboard display and steering wheel buttons, CarPlay allows Apple’s customers to enjoy their mobile devices safely while on the road.
CarPlay features include:
- Interaction with the phone through Siri voice command
- App control through steering wheel buttons and vehicle touch screens
- Interactivity with vehicle console knobs, dials, and buttons
For customers who do not yet have a compatible automobile, CarPlay features can be added to most vehicles through these aftermarket systems: Alpine, Pioneer, Kenwood, Sony, and Clarion.
With 47 automakers including CarPlay in their models, you could say Apple has done more than anyone to merge connected car and smartphone devices.
2. SmartPhone OS With Built-In Driver Safety Feature
Apple’s efforts to merge car and phone is not limited to replacing the vehicle OEM infotainment system OS with a smartphone equivalent. With the release of iOS 11, we see the first instance of a mobile operating system with an automotive function built in. The iOS 11 Do Not Disturb While Driving feature mutes phone features that could be distracting to the driver while the vehicle is in motion.
The Do Not Disturb mode incorporates the following safety features:
- Shuts off phone display when vehicle is moving
- Silences incoming calls and text alerts
- Responds to texters with a message that you are driving
This iOS function includes a number of settings, allowing the user to enable or disable the feature, to allow callers to “break through” by texting “urgent,” and to allow calls to come through but not text messages.
3. Smartphone-Based Domain Isolation
BlackBerry has taken the global issue of automotive cybersecurity to heart. With the release of its newest OS, QNX Hypervisor 2.0, BlackBerry embeds domain isolation functions directly into the smartphone.
Domain isolation offers a number of advantages and is not limited to keeping hackers out. Among its many security advantages are the following features:
- Preventing corrupted or malfunctioning user software from affecting core vehicle systems
- Making it tougher for hackers to take control of the vehicle—even if they have penetrated less-critical systems
- Allowing an easier certification process for 3rd-party vendors
BlackBerry has taken the lead by making domain isolation a smartphone feature rather than relying on OEMs to address the issue. In doing so, it has shown that smartphones can take the driver seat as the connected car industry moves forward.
4. Cellular Networks Tweaked for Automotive IoT
One of the most important ways automotive technology is changing smartphones is by driving advancements in the networks that power them.
While the current 4G networks are suitable for most mobile device users, each connected car can pump 25 gigabytes of data into the cloud every hour. When you consider that more than 37 million connected cars are expected to be on the road by 2022, and the burden to move data efficiently becomes obvious.
How connected car data volume affects smartphones might take a bit of explaining. Although the relationship is a bit complex, it might become more clear when you consider the following:
- A large percentage of connected car data will be either generated or leveraged by drivers’ smartphones
- Increased network bandwidth will have a direct bearing on the automotive-related features that can be hosted on smartphones
- The smartphone will likely become the central hub that bridges the connected car with the global IoT ecosystem
Both connected vehicles and smartphones will benefit in untold ways from the speed and mobility offered by 5G and V2X technologies. While the smartphone market would eventually get there on its own, the data demands of connected and autonomous vehicles will certainly accelerate advancement in these network technologies.
5. Keyless Vehicle Entry
The key fob and push-button start have allowed drivers to enter, start, and secure their vehicles without keys for some time, now. But there has always been those vehicle owners who prefer to still secure their vehicles using old fashioned locks and keys. Soon, new car purchasers may have no choice but to trade in their vehicle keys for a smartphone app.
Already a leader in connected car technology, BMW is considering eliminating keys for its vehicles altogether. Other automakers are also exploring the app versus key dilemma. However, BMW has demonstrated a progressive approach to connected car technology and may very well be the first to take the keys from drivers.
Advantages for smartphone-based vehicle security are numerous. The top three include:
- Avoiding lost keys, since fewer people lose their cell phones
- The ability to provide vehicle access to family members without needing extra keys
- App based vehicle entry can allow fleets to secure all vehicles at once
What about the relatively few drivers who still do not own a smartphone? That’s what BMW is trying to figure out.
United We Roll
Will smartphones continue to serve as the copilot for connected cars? Or will connected cars eventually absorb all of the functions of mobile devices, making the smartphone obsolete when on the road? Time alone will tell. For now, however, and for the foreseeable future, a two-lane road exists between the two, providing new conveniences for drivers and new markets for phone and automakers.
How Ignite Can Help
In the rapidly changing automotive and mobile phone industries, there is no room for miscalculation. Either your mobile app uniquely satisfies expectations in this burgeoning new market, or you may as well step aside for others who know the way.
Ignite provides world-class mobile app solutions for companies around the globe. We are experts in all aspects of mobile app technology, including customizing apps that target the lucrative connected car market. But our value to you does not end there. We established ourselves as a leader in automotive technology when a car was still just a car, and we’ve been on the cutting edge of automotive technology ever since.
With six R&D labs spread across Western Europe, we are well positioned to be your outsource technology partner, regardless of your geographic location.
Why not contact us today for a no-cost consultation?