Automakers Show Off In-Vehicle Wi-Fi, New Smartphone Interfaces

Car companies at the International Auto Show here showed off their versions of popular smartphone interface technology, which allows vehicle infotainment systems to connect to and use mobile apps.

NEW YORK -- Car companies at the International Auto Show here showed off their versions of popular smartphone interface technology, which allows vehicle infotainment systems to connect to and use mobile apps.

Jaguar Land Rover showed off the fruits of its partnership with Bosch SofTech, which has developed the company's InControl smartphone interface. InControl allows the iPhone and Android phones to display apps on a vehicle's infotainment system.

Land Rover first announced the app at CES earlier this year, along with its partnership with Bosch SofTech, which developed the mySPIN interface on which InControl is based.

The InControl smartphone interface has been rolled out in the Range Rover Evoque and Jaguar F-Type coupe. Jaguar Range Rover plans to offer the smartphone interface in all of its 2015 vehicles.

Currently, there are limited mobile apps available through the InControl operating system, but if offers things such as door-to-door navigation, music playlists and phone and calendar access, including contact information that can be used to call people.

Jaguar Land Rover also offers an SDK for third-party developers to use in creating new apps for the InControl system.

Peter Virk, head of connected technology and apps for Jaguar Land Rover, said the company chose not to use MirrorLink or Apple's CarPlay - two other smartphone interfaces - because they offer limited phone support.

MirrorLink is being developed by the Car Connectivity Consortium and can be used with limited models of Android, Windows and Blackberry phones.

Apple's new CarPlay allows enabled cars to duplicate some iPhone functions in the IVI system, but is limited to Apple's mobile platform.

"As long as you have an iPhone 5 or later and Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later, you can use your phone on with InControl," Virk said. "When I drive, it displays my phone's configuration and content. When my wife drives, it displays her configuration and content."

Volvo today demonstrated a CarPlay-enabled IVI system that will be available in its 2016 XC90 SUV -- available later this year -- and eventually in all models, according to Jonas Soderqvist, Volvo's director of user experience and connectivity.

CarPlay, which was introduced earlier this year allows an iPhone to tie into a car's IVI systems and allows Siri-controlled voice commands to access functions such as Apple Maps, phone, messages and music.

The CarPlay interface will enable Volvo to offer a cleaner, more "Scandinavian-style" dashboard design, Soderqvist said.

Volvo also announced it will begin offering Wi-Fi routers in future vehicles through a partnership with AT&T. The multi-year agreement will enable 3G connectivity and hotspot capability in Volvo vehicles in the U.S. and Canada.

AT&T is scheduled to power Volvo's US 2015 model year connected car vehicles with Sensus Connect, an embedded infotainment service. Volvo customers in the U.S. and Canada will also have access to Volvo On Call, a service allowing remote access to car functions and an emergency crash notification service. Volvo plans to enable cars with AT&T on-board for sale this summer.

"We expect Volvo customers will be delighted to have these services on board, and we're committed to working with Volvo Cars to give their customers a unique and valuable service," said Chris Penrose, a senior vice president of AT&T's Emerging Devices.

Audio companies are getting more entrenched in the IVI field. Pioneer plans to include CarPlay in its in-car multimedia audio systems.

The Pioneer option will be available this summer through a firmware upgrade to Pioneer's five 2013 NEX in-dash multimedia IVI systems.

Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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This story, "Automakers Show Off In-Vehicle Wi-Fi, New Smartphone Interfaces" was originally published by Computerworld .

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