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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
After a good decade and a half in-vehicle infotainment is still something of a mess. Practically every automaker has taken its own approach to implementing advanced connectivity technology. And just like freshly fallen snowflakes no two solutions are alike.
The folks from QNX demonstrated the power of their software platform at 2014’s Telematics Update Detroit. The Canada-based computer company showed off a reference platform with super-fast booting capabilities.
Where BlackBerry Beats Microsoft
Few car components have been vilified more than the MyFord Touch infotainment system, but word is floating about that the Blue-Oval may be switching its gameplan, ditching its Microsoft based platform for one powered by BlackBerry’s QNX.
If you’ve heard anything about Blackberry over the past few years, chances are it wasn’t good news. But as they say, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
Ford’s rumored switch may actually be just what the brand needs. Surveys have shown that Ford’s adoption of high-tech interfaces in its cars has been a big draw for customers. Unfortunately, it’s also been one of the major factors in continuously-low reliability and consumer satisfaction reports. Blackberry could be the answer. Here’s how:
A new platform for in-car entertainment is ready to hit the market, based on the latest software from Research in Motion (RIM) subsidiary, QNX.
Starting today, generally unloved BlackBerry smartphone users can take advantage of the OnStar RemoteLink Mobile App, something that until now has been restricted to iOS and Android devices.
In order to attract buyers, car manufacturers have had to ramp up the amount of technology offered in their cars. Infotainment systems do a lot, like help navigate, set cabin temperature, adjust audio settings and more, but they tend to be a neat party trick, falling short in real-world use.
Cell phones behind the wheel— they’re a deadly plague on traffic safety that cause frequent and preventable crashes. Even worse is the fact that scores of mature drivers are just as guilty as any number of 16-year-old sidewalk terrors more concerned with texting back than taking the wheel.
One company is offering a solution that could help cut down on the number of cellular offenders endangering themselves and others. Scosche is offering a device that blocks cell usage in a car while the vehicle is in motion called CellCONTROL.
As with any new technology, compatibility is always a concern. All the same, Scosche insists that the CellCONTROL is broadly compatible and easy to use. Any car sold in the U.S. in 1996 or later was made with an OBD-II interface, which is all their system needs to work within the car. They also claim that it works with more than 1,200 different phones such as BlackBerry 4.5 and higher, Android 2.1 and above, yet the iPhone is unmistakably missing from their list.
Once installed, drivers will find that their phone is only accessible via bluetooth headset. Email, SMS and really everything that would take your eyes off the road is out of reach until the wheels stop spinning.
While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we wonder how many people will really use this device. It costs $129.95 on the company site, so after shipping and all costs, you’re likely to drop at least $150 when you can just as easily put the phone out of reach, say in a briefcase behind your seat.
The bluetooth headset should still reach at that range and you won’t be tempted to send snarky tweets while steering. Another obvious question: what about your passengers? Unless you’re the antisocial type or always drive alone, it would be a real nuisance for the co-pilot to be locked up as well.
That said, there are some great applications which are surefire selling points. Parents looking for a way to enforce safe driving habits probably wont bat an eyelash at a one-time expense to keep the kiddies safe. To sweeten the deal, the CellCONTROL gets a designated administrator, say mom or dad, and notifies them if someone tampers with the device.
It’s a good idea that parents will probably buy into, but unless insurance companies start offering discounts to drivers who install these things, it seems like a hard sell to the adult crowd.
Volkswagen has agreed to halt its Blackberry email servers from sending emails to employees when they are off their shift after complaints that their staff’s work and home lives were becoming one (can’t we all relate).
The new restriction will cover all employees in Germany that are currently working under trade union negotiated contracts. Under the agreement, email servers will stop sending emails 30 minutes after an employee ends their shift, and will resume 30 minutes before their shift begins. This however does not apply to senior management – that’s why they get paid the big bucks.
We just find it funny that some employees can’t fight the urge to put their devices down and ignore work once they get home. But hey, we also understand the pressure that a job brings in making you believe that you have to constantly be by your email’s side. At least now they don’t even have a choice to make, and it won’t be their fault for not replying right away.
[Source: BBC News]
If you weren’t addicted to your Crackberry before, you will be once you get your hands on the Porsche Design P’9981 Smartphone from Blackberry.
Encased in stainless steel and leather, the Porsche Design P’9981 comes with a host of luxe features that will make sure you’ll never want to put it down. With an enhanced 1.2 GHz processor and 8 GB of onboard memory, you’ll be able to browse the Internet to your heart’s content. In terms of technical features, it also comes with 720p HD video recording, dual band Wi-Fi, a built-in compass and access to a selection of exclusive apps.
The Porsche Design P’9981 Smartphone’s wide QWERTY keyboard means texting is a lot easier, and its Liquid Graphics 2.8” high resolution display touch screen ensures you won’t be squinting to read your messages.
Some special features that come with this cool Blackberry include the Wikitude World Browser app, which lets you find and send relevant information instantly. You’ll also get a limited edition PIN series, Near Field Communication and BlackBerry Tag, as well as access to BlackBerry App World 3.0.
No word on a price for the Porsche Design P’9981 Smartphone from Blackberry, but we’re guessing since it’s being touted as a special edition, it’ll come with a special edition price.
Sometimes a negative can really be a positive. Take the Blackberry outage that had users scrambling for a way to communicate earlier this week. It turns out that traffic accidents and fatalities fell drastically during that time period.
The three-day Blackberry service interruption and its effect on driving were especially evident in the Middle East. The National, a local English-language newspaper, reported that in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, accidents fell by 20 to 40 per cent.
“The roads became much safer when Blackberry stopped working,” said Brig. Gen. Hussein Al Harethi, director of the Abu Dhabi police traffic department.
In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, police said they noticed a significant decline in traffic accidents. The drivers most likely to be involved in distracted driving accidents are young men, and traffic accidents fell 20 per cent in Dubai and 40 per cent in Abu Dhabi. Even better news – there were no traffic fatalities during this time. Both countries have recently launched crackdowns on cell phone usage while driving, so this unplanned experiment couldn’t have happened at a better time.
It may take a few weeks to find out what the service interruption’s impact was on driving habits and accidents in other countries around the world.
[Source: Toronto Star]
Imagine having a gadget in your car that could tell you how fast to go to avoid stopping at the next light. Well, now you can. A network of dashboard smartphones can monitor traffic lights and congestion helping drivers avoid idling, cutting fuel use by 20 percent.
SignalGuru collects and analyzes traffic data from images captured on dashboard smartphones, to inform drivers of the most efficient routes. The researchers installed iPhones on car dashboards in Cambridge, Massachusetts and in Singapore, where traffic lights have fixed schedules. SignalGuru can predict when lights will change with an error margin of two-thirds of a second.
The SignalGuru study won a best paper award at last month’s Association for Computing Machinery MobiSys conference, but the program would require many users to be a real solution for traffic congestion.
“If you can save even a small percentage of that, then you can have a large effect on the energy that the U.S. consumes,” Emmanouil Koukoumidis, a Princeton PhD candidate and visiting researcher at MIT, was quoted as saying.
Something to allow city-dwellers, sports car owners, or high-school principals to sleep easy at night: a new app for iPhones, Droids, and Blackberries will warn you when some @#%! is messing with your car, allowing you to dispense justice as you see fit.
Budding Charles Bronsons can take comfort in knowing that this is the first specific app designed for cars. Developed by Intel, it connects to your car’s existing security system and begins working when that is triggered. It can stream video (placed in and around the car, presumably) to a cloud server through WiFi, directly to your phone, or record it for World’s Wildest Police Videos.
Intel is also checking to see if the app can share data with carmakers, but that level of privacy intrusion may get messy. There’s no word on when the app will be finished, but for anyone who uses faculty parking, hopefully before the school year starts.
Apple has officially rejected any inclusion of DUI checkpoints in its iOS apps. In this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple updated its app store to prohibit applications informing users of DUI checkpoints.
This recent update was a result of a group of U.S Senators sending numerous letters of concern to Apple, Google, and RIM, asking the smartphone companies to remove and disable all apps that would inform users of DUI checkpoints.
Section 22.8 states:
Apps which contain DUI checkpoints that are not published by law enforcement agencies, or encourage and enable drunk driving, will be rejected.
Developers may be able to remove the DUI functionality from their apps, however most of the programs that identify law enforcement activity pertaining to checkpoints and speed traps are crowd-sourced, which means users submit the checkpoints themselves without app developers knowing what they’re identifying.
Those of you who will become stranded in an Audi, never fear: the Audi Roadside App is here!
No more fumbling through your wallet for that ragged AAA membership card that expired in 1999, or dialing 911 and sheepishly admitting that nobody around you has been shot. For those Audi owners with an iPhone, Android or Blackberry—and let’s face it, many who own Audis will likely play with one—the app allows owners to call for the nearest tow truck and request specific service.
The app works by using GPS to locate the vehicle’s owner, then calling for the nearest tow service. Owners submit their vehicle registration data to Audi via the app, which “greatly shortens the time it takes to dispatch service.” Tin-hatters need not apply. The app works in conjunction with the 4-year complimentary roadside assistance available on new models; older Audi owners should have a hacksaw ready to sacrifice a limb in payment.
The radio makes the drive go that much smoother. But what’s that you say? No one listens to the radio anymore? Get ready to see (or hear) a surge in radio’s popularity, thanks to the free iheartradio app.
Listen to favorite local and distant stations and other content while driving with the iheartradio app, available for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices. Part of the Clear Channel family, this app gives you extras such as album art, celebrity deejays and exclusive video content – unfortunately, you still have to listen to annoying commercials.
When you get to the main screen of the app, you can access local stations, search by city or genre, tune into celebrity stations and content by other radio personalities, get premium content from people like Dr. Laura and Sean Hannity and check out daily features such as exclusive videos.
The local stations the iheartradio picks are mostly Clear Channel affiliates. You’ll also get access to entertainment from the Personalities tab, featuring shows like Sixx Sense with Nikki Sixx and the White House Brief.
There’s even an All Cities tab, which lets you stream stations from dozens of metro areas and hot spots. The Genres tab covers everything from Alternative to Hawaiian music and comes with video content. At the bottom of the app is a Favorites tab that lets you save stations and songs so you can play them again later, and the Shake It tab spins a roulette-wheel where adjacent cities and genre columns randomly land on a combination of the two. There’s also a Settings tab can be used to clear the app’s autoplay memory and to report issues.
On the iPhone version of the app, you can use iTunes Tagging and stations are streamed in Apple’s AAC format. You can download it for free here.
[Source: Edmunds Inside Line]
The big, bulky owners manual occupying precious glove box space may soon become a relic for Jeep owners, as the 2011 Grand Cherokee will be the brand’s first vehicle to bring the owners manual to a variety of smartphones. In addition to the owners manual, users will be able to view videos, contact other Grand Cherokee owners and give Chrysler feedback on various aspects of the car.
The smartphone owners manual will be available first for the iPhone, and then hit the Blackberry and Android platforms. As Autoblog astutely pointed out, when smartphones become obsolete in a few years, what will happen to the owners manuals? We hope that a hard copy will still be available. For all the wonders of technology, paper will never suffer from technical glitches, and when a Check Engine Light comes on ten years down the road, we doubt that anyone will dust off their old smartphone to look up the possible problem.
A few years ago, I was opining that in-car technology was pitiful and useless — mostly because I had no way to connect my iPod to a car stereo — before the days of AUX-in and USB connections BMW and BlackBerry seem to have waded into the next generation of in-car apps with their latest Bluetooth update that allows drivers to have emails read aloud via the car stereo and iDrive.
Since I now think that anything opposed to the art of driving should be banned (even cupholders), this trend of allowing drivers to access email while behind the wheel makes me sick.
That said, if you’re so inclined, the feature will be rolled out first on the BlackBerry Peark 3G, but will soon extend to all devices running the BlackBerry 6 OS.
Video after the jump:
Tech addicts, the 2011 Ford Fiesta may be your next car. (Just as long as you don’t own an Apple iPhone, ’cause it’s not supported yet.) SYNC, the in-car technology platform developed by Microsoft in partnership with Ford, will soon allow for third-party cell phone applications to be controlled by voice commands and in-car controls.
Forget the fact that no other automaker is even close to offering such integration, Sync AppLink will be on production vehicles this year. AppLink works — at launch — on Android and BlackBerry phones, with titles such as Pandora Internet radio, Stitcher “smart radio”, and Orangatame’s Twitter client OpenBeak available.
“The growth in smartphone mobile apps has been explosive, and Ford has worked hard to respond at the speed of the consumer electronics market,” said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford’s Connected Services Organization. “SYNC is the only connectivity system available that can extend that functionality into the car. AppLink will allow drivers to control some of the most popular apps through SYNC’s voice commands and steering wheel buttons, helping drivers keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”
Once developers realize they can help distract drivers while on the road, this list is sure to grow exponentially. May we suggest an in-car fart app that can deliver a disgusting noise through a speaker closest to the intended victim?
OnStar has produced a new smartphone application providing Chevrolet Volt owners 24/7 connection to their cars.
Compatible with Apple’s iPhone, RIM’s Blackberry Storm and Motorola’s Droid smartphones, the app provides real-time data connection and control over vehicle functions such as programming charge times.
The OnStar Mobile Application retrieves information from the Volt such as battery charge level, odometer readings, miles per gallon and electric-only mileage, and displays them in real time on a smartphone.
Volt owners can receive text or email notifications for charge reminders, power interruptions and when the battery is fully recharged. Owners can also manually program the Volt to recharge at off-peak power usage times to take advantage of lower electricity rates.
Traditional OnStar features such as remote door lock, unlock, horn and light controls, typically available only by calling OnStar’s control center, will also be available for Volt owners through the application.
Volt owners with internet-ready phones other than the iPhone, Storm and Droid will be able to access the application through a mobile browser.
The OnStar Mobile Application will be available for the Volt’s launch. Online demonstrations for the Motorola Droid and Blackberry Storm are available at OnStarMobileDemo.com, while an iPhone demo app is available through the iTunes store.
Gallery: OnStar Chevrolet Volt App
Official release after the jump:
Photos: Jason Bauer and Colum Wood
First off, we apologize for the terrible photos. We can blame Blackberry for the poor quality, but we should be so lucky the pics turned out at all.
We just happened upon this this undercover vehicle while cruising north on Highway 1 (PCH) after leaving Huntington Beach, CA. The Hyundai team did a great job disguising the crossover, which we have deduced is the next generation Hyundai Tucson.
At first it’s not clear what the vehicle is and the Michigan plates certainly threw us for a loop. After all, it does have some resemblance to the Dodge Journey.
The real give-away, however, was the Hyundai Sonata (also sporting Michigan plates) we caught following it.
It certainly doesn’t look as striking as the ix-35 ix-onic concept that was first unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show in March but there are some undeniable resemblances. For instance, the roof line is similar, as is the general shape and layout of the windows. The rear haunches also have a slight bulge in them – although that detail is quite well hidden on the test-mule we spotted. Importantly the front end is extremely well disguised, as it would be a clear give-away with Hyundai’s new hexagon front grille.
The Blackberry camera flash did, however, pick up that the crossover is sporting Kumho tires and it’s well-known that the Korean automaker outfits its vehicles with rubber from the Korean tire manufacturer.