Landrover, BMW, Audi and others have committed to integrating an on-wheel or in-dash button for connecting to Apple’s Siri-based "Eyes Free" solution within one year. Change the industry? Sure. Solve distracted driving? Who knows.
Apples updates to Siri include an
in-car solution called Eyes Free, the iPhone maker announced June 11, during
the opening day of its Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple already has
several high-end carmakers lined up to offer this Siri in the dashboard.
Land Rover/Jaguar, BMW, GM,
Mercedes, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda are all on board with a commitment
to integrate the solutionwhich will include a button on the steering wheel or
in the dashboard to instantly connect with Siriwithin just 12 months.
Notably absent from the list,
, are automakers like Ford and
Kia/Hyundai, both of whom have a deal with Microsoft (Ford with SNYC and Kia
with UVO). Is there now going to be a Mac and a PC guy for cars?
The smartphone and automotive
industries have long been dancing around each, trying to figure out quite how
they might team up in a major way.
In 2007, Nokia introduced Nokia 500
Auto Navigation, a hands-free solution that offered directions and could
re-route users through traffic jams, and in May 2010, it announced, with Audi,
BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen, a Terminal Mode specification
that could be used
for purposes such as letting a driver access the music on her smartphone
through the cars infotainment system or, working the other way, send
performance information about the car to a drivers phone.
In 2010, Research In Motion
purchased QNX, which at the time had its software in more than 20 million vehicles.
And this June, Verizon Communications purchased Hughes Telematics
which offers telematics for the automotive and fleet industries. Both AT&T
and RIM have this year shown off a Porsche 911 running QNX and fitted, up front
and behind the headrests, with Playbook tablets and voice-recognition software
that could be asked for directions to the nearest gas station, for example.
Whether the automaker, the driver or another party should pony up for the
cellular connection, an AT&T spokesperson at the event told eWEEK
was a matter still widely under discussion.
It would hardly be surprising if
Appleas it did with portable music players and smartphonesturned up late to a
contest with just the entry to win it.
Apples model is to identify a
space that is underserved by existing technology and adapt their solutions to
that space, creating a solution that works better than anything else. From
this standpoint, the Eyes Free system using Siri is a natural, Ken Hyers, a
senior analyst with Technology Business Research (TBR), told eWEEK
Charles King, principal analyst with
Pund-IT, says the deal makes perfect sense for both Apples strategies around
Siri and its new partnership with TomTom
The deal is actually more important
for TomTomwhich ¦ has gotten hammered as navigation has moved away from
standalone products to smartphone platforms, said King.
King also noted the effect that an
increased use of Siri could have on users data plans.
That was a significant point when
Siri launched last yearsince much of the processing required for voice
recognition happened behind the scenes in Apples data centers, users without
unlimited plans initially [until they figured it out] got slammed with extra
charges, said King. As many, if not most, cellular providers are moving away
from unlimited plans, using Siri regularly in the car could be an expensive
TBRs Hyers raised another
concernthe potential distraction of Siri and the need to sell Eyes Free as a
solution to distracted driving.
Any number of studies have shown
that distracted driving is not solved by hands-free solutions, because the
distraction exists, whether hands or voice are used to operate the phone while
driving, said Hyers.
In fact, some studies have compared
hands-free phone use to driving after having a beer or two, to show how much
attention is devoted to a call, Hyers added. Still, if Eyes Free can keep
people from fondling their iPhones while driving, it has to be better than
Michelle Maisto on Twitter @eWEEK_Michelle