Frank Stephenson Re-imagines The Interior Of Next Generation Cars
If you went back to 1984 when Apple released the very first Macintosh computer and told Steve Jobs that Apple’s creation would eventually lead to us carrying around hand-held computers with excessive amounts of computing power called the iPhone, he probably would have laughed in your face and kicked you in the nuts. Yet, on June 29, 2007, the very first iPhone was released, and the inevitable battle between Android and IOS was officially in the works. Aside from getting thinner and more powerful, the iPhone really hasn’t changed that much. Things got shook up not that long ago when the 3.5mm headphone jack was done with, but outside of computing power, battery life, the sheer size and weight, it’s pretty much the same. With the introduction of the iPhone X, however, we get a new feature known as Face ID and, while it’s received some criticism so far, it seems to be finding more favorability over time.
With distracted driving and just playing on your phone while in the car becoming an increasingly annoying and dangerous issue from which there is no escape, it’s time we find a way to combat it from the base level. As such, the TopSpeed staff has sat down to discuss how something like Face ID could change the way we drive in the future. Maybe it will deny you access while moving, or penalize you when attempting to circumvent the system while driving. Maybe it will allow all people in the car to have access to the infotainment system via Apple CarPlay. Or, maybe it will be used to detect how you’re feeling and change various aspects of the vehicle interior like lighting or temperature. Well, we’ve explored a little bit of all this, so check out what each of us think below then fill us in on your thoughts in the comments section. We can’t wait to hear what you all think!!!
Carmakers love to brag about the technology that they can cram into cars, and any press release announcing a new or updated model will be accompanied by a long list of the advanced features it offers. This is especially true when it comes to infotainment technology, and this makes sense since this is the technology that the customer is likely to have the direct contact with. But a new survey from J.D. Power suggests that much of that may be a waste of time, as customers aren’t using the features very much.
The survey tracked the use of 33 different technological features being sold on new cars and found that at least 20 percent of customers weren’t using 16 of them at all. Among the least used features were in-vehicle concierge (43% never used); mobile routers (38%); automatic parking systems (35%); head-up displays (33%); and built-in apps (whatever that means) (32%). In essentially every case of a technology not being used, the reason given was that the owners did not find it useful, and only had it because it was bundled with other features. The survey was for those in the first 90 days of ownership, as after that, it’s generally found that features owners haven’t used yet won’t ever be used.
Continue reading for the full story.
Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, says he’s open to cooperating with tech companies like Google and Apple on the next generation of connected cars. Car companies have historically had a difficult time developing in-house operating systems that live up to the standards set by tablets, smart phones and other devices, and that consumers expect. Understandably, they’ve also been reluctant to cede control of their products to outside companies, but rhetoric like this from Zetsche and others within the industry mean this philosophy is changing.
"Google and Apple want to provide system software for cars and bring this entire ecosystem around Apple and Google into the vehicle," Zetsche told German publication Deutsche Unternehmerboerse. "That can be interesting for both sides."
But, ‘cooperation’ is the operational word here. Zetsche is willing to work with tech giants outside the car industry, but will not be outsourcing software development to Silicon Valley. "We don’t want to become contractors who have no direct content with customers any more and supply hardware to third parties," he continued.
Zetsche’s comments come shortly after Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn urged more cooperation between tech and car companies, and the recent acquisition of Nokia’s HERE digital mapping service by the BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi trifecta.
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Smartphone apps have made many aspects of our lives easier, and there is a very good chance that your life could be made better right now if you only knew which app to download in order to do it. And that might even extend to driving, but it’s sometimes difficult to figure out where to start when researching apps. There are an estimated 1.6 million apps available for Android, and Apple is only just behind with 1.5 million. So it would helpful to have someone else, someone with a lot of time on their hands, to take a look and find some really good driving apps, maybe even some of the ones you didn’t know you needed.
The folks at SMF, an online auto parts retailer in Ireland, has compiled a handy list of their top 10 app picks for car owners. Some of these are for navigation, always an important thing for drivers, and it never hurts to have a backup for when the app that came with your phone goes all Apple Maps on you. Another one sure to get a lot of use is TuneIn Radio, because good driving music is nearly as crucial as knowing where you’re going.
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Remember how cool it was the first time you made a phone call through your car’s audio system via Bluetooth? That was only the beginning, and that integration has been taken to a whole new level with Volkswagen’s second-generation Modular Infotainment platform. There are four different head units available for 2016 Volkswagen models — all of which include a touchscreen display and smartphone integration via Apply CarPlay, Android Auto or Mirrorlink.
Apple CarPlay works with the iPhone 5 or newer with at least iOS 7.1. Android Auto will work with any Android phone that runs Android 5.0 – codenamed Lollipop – or higher. Most newer Samsung and HTC phones have MirrorLink capability along with Sony’s Xperia Z3 and Fujitsu’s Arrows NX handset. Android Auto and MirrorLink also have support for some third-party apps like Spotify and Skype. MirrorLink has its own list of apps that can be integrated, including WeatherPro, Parkopedia and Glympse, among others.
All models include standard features like an auxiliary input, USB interface, SD card slots, Bluetooth and a reverse camera display. Entry-level models have a 5-inch screen, while most mid-level trims have a 6.3-inch screen. The 2016 VW Golf stands by itself with a 6.5-inch screen, and the 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf has an 8.0-inch screen with 3D Navigation, nearly 10 gigabytes of storage and a wireless hotspot. All other premium models include the Discover Pro, which has SSD Navigation and other features not found in the sub-premium systems.
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In 2012, the Institute of Advanced Motorists performed a study on the use of smartphones while driving. The end result showed that it is more dangerous to use a smartphone while driving than it is to drive with a legal amount of alcohol in your system or when under the influence of THC (marijuana).
This month, the IAM performed another study. This time they asked 500 drivers about their use of smartphones and tablets while driving. The study showed that 9 percent of people admitted to taking a selfie while driving in the last month, 8 percent said they used video calling apps, and 19 percent said they accessed and used the internet. Of those who admitted to taking selfies while driving, 5 percent were women, and 12 percent were men.
Results were also broken down into different age groups. Of those aged 18 to 24, 15 percent admitted to selfies, 16 percent admitted to video calling, 13 percent watch streaming videos and 27 percent accessed and used the internet. Those aged 25 to 35 proved even higher numbers: 19 percent have snapped pictures of themselves; 34 percent have watched streaming video, and 34 percent have browsed the internet.
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So you don’t have enough money to afford a $60,990 2015 Dodge Challegner SRT. Don’t feel too bad because you’re not alone. But don’t worry because Dodge is throwing us a bone of sorts. Instead of having to buy a Challenger SRT to enjoy the throaty roar of its HEMI Hellcat engine, Dodge has released a free mobile ringtone of the 6.2-liter, supercharged engine, and we can download and enjoy it to our heart’s content.
The ringtone is currently available for Apple, Android, and Blackberry devices, so unless you still own an old Nokia or one of those Siemens brick phones form the `90s, you can get the Hellcat ringtone at no charge. In addition to the ringtone, Dodge is also offering downloadable wallpaper images of the muscle car, which you can use on your desktop or smartphones. How sweet of Dodge to think of us.
All you need to do is download the ringtone HERE and you’re well on your way to equipping your smartphones with one of the most awesome-sounding engines in the entire world.
That’s more than what Chevrolet or Ford has given us in recent memory.
Click "Play" to hear the ringtone
Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.
We often see spy shots of upcoming vehicles still wrapped in camouflage months before their official debut, but we rarely get a preview of upcoming infotainment software destined for their dashboards. Then again, no other infotainment software makes quite the splash as Apple’s iOS in the Car.
Several screen shots of Apple’s iOS in the Car were posted on developer Steven Troughton-Smith’s twitter page, giving us an idea of what the current beta model looks like. As reported by 9To5Mac, iOS in the Car allows users to plug their iOS device into their car’s built-in center console display, giving them access to Apple Maps, text messaging, phone service and iTunes – furthering Apple’s in-dash integration past the current Siri Eyes Free and iPod Out.
This is not the first we’ve seen of iOS in the Car. Apple showed a preview of the software at their World Wide Developers’ Conference last year, but previewed only a few screen images. These images leaked by the developer show a more detailed view of what the system is expected to look like.
Click past the jump for a closer look at Apple’s iOS in the Car
The video game business is evolving much more rapidly than many movie studios in terms of their broad reach and level of interactivity with the players who devote hours to winning the race, collecting a mad fleet of exotic cars, or even doing the most efficient kill shots on retro robo future zombies. Or something.
The automotive genre of the gaming industry is quite a unique subset. Guys and gals who have never enjoyed most first-person-shooters, RPGs and other fantasy wizard content can somehow really love driving games.
Gran Turismo is obviously the mack daddy franchise, but its lead over the improving Forza, Need for Speed and others is diminishing.
As awesome as GT5 and GT6 are, the level of game play is always pretty serious. It might start out with paint jobs and ECU chips for an old used MX-5 that is now a giant killer, but Gran Turismo gets extremely stressful and difficult as the Mario Kart friendliness of the first tracks becomes the brutal London F1 course, Sardinia rally stage, or the legendary Nordschleife in Nürburg.
The light-hearted escapism of the old Donkey Kong Country series is long gone in this intense generation of lifelike games. Your escape will be directly into the racing cockpit. Your eyes will bleed from starting at the 250 mph warp speed down the Mulsanne straight, hate your own slow-fitted fingers, and maybe - just maybe - win a race or two.
Grand Theft Auto takes a totally different path. Instead of the glamor of the world’s best tracks and circuits, the GTA approach is much more down-to-earth. You are a professional criminal building an empire. But there are guys around every corner who want to be the next Tony Montana also.
So you become a fierce and hardened street tough playing the game. Even in the lush green lawns of posh suburbs, the boys will always be in the basement doing evil deeds and wild burnouts on GTA 5. The goal is to be a fun escape from the reality of speed limits, paying tolls and parking tickets. All the boring parts of life.
So where does the new GTA app fit into this mix? Called iFruit, the new iPhone and iPad apps are companion pieces that integrate with console game play. Build your ideal whip, train your Rottweiler or just browse the enormous game play guide application when stuck.
Is iFruit the perfect time-waster for all those boring hours spent *not* playing GTA 5?
Click past the jump to find out.
What can you really get for $6.99 these days? You may be able to snag up a burger and fries from your favorite fast food joint, or maybe you can pump a few drops of gas into your tank. Well, you may want to think about parking the car or cooking up some ramen noodles today because 2K Drive has officially hit the App store at the cool price of $6.99. No, that’s not per month or per year; that is for a lifetime of edge-or-your-seat racing on your iPhone or iPad.
2K Drive is not some crummy, rushed-to-production iOS game either, as 2K Games — best known for its 2K Sports franchise that includes MLB 2K13 and NBA 2K13 — went to great lengths to make it as realistic as possible. The game includes tons of real-life cars, over 100 unique events, more than 25 real tracks and RaceFace, which allows you to snap a pic of your smiling mug and upload it onto the game.
Not only do you get real licensed cars, but you also get a crack at loading them up with as many aftermarket parts and accessories as you can. You want a 300-plus-horsepower Ford Focus? You can have it, as long as you earn enough credit to buy the latest and greatest performance parts. You also have to repair physical and mechanical damage, just like in real life, or suffer the consequences of decreased performance.
2K Games also knows that you want to stay up to date with all of the latest automotive news while racing your virtual rig, so it includes live news about all of the latest happenings in the automotive world. Just don’t forget about us here at TopSpeed...
So, head on over to the App store and shell out your $6.99 and get to racing. Until then, you can check out the official launch trailer and more videos on the game after the jump.
You’d think that with the upcoming release of Gran Turismo 6 and Forza 5 on both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, a new era of car racing games is about to be born.
On some level, that’s accurate. But there might be another developer that’s looking to stake that ’next generation racing game’ title all to itself.
We may not know of Anki at this point, but the start-up company is determined to make the kind of waves that’ll get everybody’s attention. How is it going to do that?
Well, the company is developing a new racing game experience that blends radio-controlled cars and artificial intelligence, all wrapped up in an iPhone app. There’s also a mat, smart cars with sensors, and Bluetooth accessories, which pretty much goes to show the detail and sophistication of this game.
In a nutshell, the game works in such a way that an iPhone app is used to control the RC cars, allowing them to perform numerous tricks and functions that belies what a standard RC car is capable of doing.
But the best part about this new game is that it’s still in its infancy, which means that we can expect more developments to arrive in due time.
For now, though, enjoy all the teaser videos Anki has released for the game. If for nothing else, these videos will definitely get your attention.
Click past the jump to watch the videos
When Apple released the first bits of information on the iOS in the Car system just yesterday, we saw a long list of premium automakers that have already signed up, like Mercedes and Jaguar. One that was not on the list that we figured was just hung up in the details was BMW. Well, a new report tells us that there was more to Bimmer not being on the list than meets the eye.
A BMW spokesperson said "The upshot is that as we have such an advanced multimedia offer that has been in vehicles in various guises for more than a decade, it would not be that straight forward to start changing all of the architecture of a car as has been implied [by Apple]." So, basically, the changes that BMW would have to make to crowbar in the new Apple system would be way too great to warrant installing the iOS in the Car system.
BMW and Apple have worked together in the past, so it comes as a bit of a surprise that the Bavarian automaker will not support the system for the foreseeable future. Fortunately for Bimmer drivers, BMW’s interfaces are plenty advanced and have a decade-long track record, so there is no worrying about sticking with an outdated or non-functional system. Additionally, BMW will support Apples new Siri Eyes Free system.
We wouldn’t be too surprised to see Apple work its way into BMW sometime in the next five years, or so, but that may take some massaging of the iOS system to appease BMW. Another good reason for BMW breaking down is if iOS in the Car becomes a smash hit, then it would be doing its buyers a disservice by leaving it out.
Stay tuned for more details…
Those of us in the auto industry are familiar with Mansory for the insane performance programs it builds for some of the finest supercars in the world.
But cars aren’t the only thing Mansory’s adept at building. Turns out, it knows how to work on building customized iPhones, too. Yep. IPhones, or in this particular case, a 24-carat-gold iPhone 5.
Recently unveiled at BaselWorld, the 50-piece Mansory iPhone 5 was designed using 24-carat gold, which was mirror-polished on the iPhone 5. Talk about blinging up, right?
Kourosh Mansory, owner of Mansory Design and Holding GmbH, explained the company’s decision to build an iPhone 5, saying, "At MANSORY, we have always been passionate about luxury watches and fine jewelry, and the 24-carat gold iPhone5 is a natural supplement to our portfolio as it meets our quality standard of production on the highest technical level combined with masterly craftsmanship and the most precious materials.”
If you do decide that this ultra-limited iPhone 5 is in your future, you can be one of the 50 people to score it for a price of €4,900, which is around $6,400 based on current exchange rates. Details of the release and where you can buy the iPhone have not been outlined.
Press Release after the jump
For all of you game addicts out there, "Cie Games" needs no presentation. For those of you who do not know them, we will offer you one more clue: it is the company that has developed "Car Town" - a social network game that allows players to collect and modify virtual cars.
Cie Games announced the launch of the new "Car Town Streets" - a racing game developed in cooperation with International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and specially offered for mobile gaming platforms. Gamers will be able to play it for free on iOS devices including the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
This new game will include "virtual" events and the first one, "Daytona Challenge," will debut today in celebration of the 55th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 24th. Top players for each race will receive a free NASCAR racecar that can produce up to 1,200 horsepower – the fastest car in the game.
The new Car Town Streets will offer gamers the possibility to find, build and race with all their favorite cars, but also form teams and compete in head-to-head race battles. In the future, the game will unlock new race challenges and missions.
You can get the game at Cie Games’ website or at iTunes.
Click past the jump for gameplay video
Rolls-Royce is breaking new company ground with the launch of its latest app, which has been designed to help you find used Rolls-Royce models without so much of a hassle.
The app is called the Provenance Pre-owned Stock Locator and follows the Provenance app that Rolls-Royce launched last year for its certified pre-owned vehicle program. Among the features of the PPSL app include easy-to-navigate search filters, as well as a feature that allows users to be able to make direct auto comparisons.
The app works in such a way that users can search for certain Rolls-Royce models in a specific country. From there, they can specify the exact model depending on a number of variables, including the car’s model, age, mileage, budget, or color.
For all the neat features of the app, it does have one caveat. The app will only cater to the highest grade models, which will be determined by a team of factory-trained technicians, who, in turn, will subject the car to a comprehensive road test before grading them.
The PPSL app can be accessed on the company’s official homepage and is available for the iPad, PCs, Macs, and most smartphones.
Cops in Maryland are quickly cutting down on their time spent running license plates by using what are called automatic license plate readers (ALPR). These nifty devices scan your plates automatically and check for insurance, validity, and other key safety issues. This is all well and good, according to civil liberties watchdog, the ACLU, but what they do with said information has the ACLU up in arms.
The ACLU has growing concerns with how long the information is retained in these ALPRs and worries that this ever-rowing data may eventually allow the government to precisely predict every move you make. So for all of you conspiracy theorists that think the gummament is watchin’ ya, this is just another nugget to keep in your head.
In a released statement, the ACLU says:
“If license plate scans, which are typically stamped with a location, time, and date, were used just for these purposes and deleted shortly thereafter, privacy concerns would be minimal to non-existent. After all, police can run license plates against these databases themselves. ALPR technology simply cuts down on the time and manpower required to perform these functions on a large scale.
The privacy issues arise with the retention of the information. A police officer will not forever remember the exact location and time of an innocent motorist’s travels. With ALPR technology, those details can be stored indefinitely, creating an ever-growing historical record of the daily comings and goings of every Marylander. As ALPRs become more ubiquitous and that record becomes longer and more detailed, it will become possible for the government to determine a person’s exact movements during any given time period.”
However, the police taking records of our license plate activity is one of the more primitive tracking devices that the government has access to in order to track us. There are many more active and precise devices that we all use on a daily basis that allows the government to keep tabs on us.
To see what other devices the government can use to track us, simply click past the jump.