It has long been a source of puzzlement to drivers around the world that a cheap smart phone or tablet can easily out-perform and be far more intuitive than the expensive systems installed in cars. Only Tesla’s gigantic touchscreen and BMW’s system have come anywhere near replicating that experience. But perhaps things are about to change.
It appears that Honda is avidly listening to its consumers and has pulled an item from their wish list to deliver an innovative concept in partnership with Drivemode. This new concept vehicle will completely replace the head unit with an Android phone that will be integrated with the car’s control. So simple. So obvious. So … why has no one done this before? (Hint: The car makers make a bunch of money off expensive control system upgrades.)
This single-button interface will use audio cues, finger taps, and display-wide swipes for functionality to ensure that you don’t take your eyes off the road to activate commands. The app has received an overwhelming 400,000 downloads already from automakers and drivers who are eager to try it out. Amongst the automakers who downloaded auto-centric Android app created by founders Yo Koga and HK Ueda was none other than Honda.
This new concept is not just about shoving a phone in the car’s dashboard; it’s more about integrating it with the vehicle’s controls. For example, the convenient buttons on the steering wheel that consumers love so much to control the radio will now control the app as well.
In addition, the back and right-side blind spot cameras will now display on the phone as well. Honda and Drivemode stated that this is still just a concept and possibly some years away from coming to fruition. However, it is part of an even bigger plan to build an app for automakers that replaces the old in-dash system. In the meantime, Drivemode is looking for other ways to make the new model a bit safer for consumers.
For example, Ueda says the app will eventually support aftermarket Bluetooth backup and blind spot cameras. So, drivers can buy the cameras and mount them to their cars, allowing them to have an additional safety feature, even if their vehicle didn’t have that option when purchased new from the car dealership.
For drivers who are unable to afford the trim levels that offer the smartphone-integrating options (or are are not looking to upgrade their vehicle), they will still have the ability to enjoy a more unified driving experience without weaving all over the busy road trying to launch Pandora. Regrettably, the app is only available for Android devices right now, but Drivemode is looking for extra funding to build the iOS version. Given Apple’s dominance in the smartphone market, this seems to be a no-brainer.
On the other hand, perhaps this is what the much rumoured Apple Car project is really all about….