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Infotainment: Apple's CarPlay
Apple's CarPlay, announced earlier this year, is the first substantial move the tech giant has made in to the realm of transport.
If an infotainment system is installed in a vehicle, it must work well. Unlike hooking your iPhone up as a music player, you will need to use it every time you drive, and so it must be intuitive, slick, and useful for the driver.
The iPad and iPhone maker's CarPlay system brings connectivity to cars as one of these systems -- using a custom iOS interface on your car's interactive dashboard to display maps, navigation data, traffic updates, and content from iTunes and audio applications. In addition, you will be able to use Siri to voice command the system -- or through a button on the steering wheel -- so users can make calls, listen to and send messages.
Third-party apps, including Spotify and iHeartRadio, are also supported. CarPlay is available as an update to iOS 7 and works with Lightning-enabled iPhones, including the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5.
Car manufacturers that plan to release CarPlay in the future include BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Jaguar, Kia, Toyota and Nissan.
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Image credit: Apple
Google contributions: Infotainment and autonomous technology
A potential alternative to Apple's CarPlay -- and not one that is so surprising -- is what could be an Android-based infotainment system developed by Google. In a job advertisement posted this year by Mercedes' parent firm Daimier, a software engineer was requested to assist in implementing Google's system, apparently dubbed "Google Projected Mode" within vehicles.
The job ad described the system as software to "seamlessly integrate" Android devices in to a car's interactive dashboard, stating that the infotainment system would be used for "media content, sending messages, receiving phone calls and navigation."
At the Consumer Electronics Show this year, the tech giant also announced the launch of an Open Automotive Alliance to develop such a system. According to the company, the alliance includes automakers such as Audi, GM and Honda.
In addition to the development of a rival infotainment system, we cannot forget Google's research in to autonomous vehicles. Google's self-driving car initiative has been in motion for some time, with tests on city streets being conducted around the congested streets of California this year. Lasers, GPS data and navigational software are used to prevent the car from colliding with obstacles.
Image credit: Mercedes
Nokia's Here, investments in the interactive dashboard
Nokia isn't necessarily the first brand that comes to mind when you consider connected cars. However, the electronics giant has created a unit focusing on mapping technology called HERE as a rival to Google and Apple's own mapping systems. Here is available on mobile devices, but the system can also be used to help drivers navigate unfamiliar roads -- and could potentially become integrated within interactive dashboards.
In addition, Nokia announced an investment fund of $100 million for companies developing technology for the connected car this month. The investment fund, run by Nokia Growth Partners, will work in partnership with Here.
Image credit: Nokia