While Apple CarPlay is interesting in that there will finally be an option to have true integration between an iPhone and “the built-in vehicle human machine interface“, I’ve always been leery of factory installed consumer technology hardware in automobiles.

Screens and 8 Track Tapes - partners in junk heaps

Whenever I see images like the one on top, I think about the image on the bottom #installedobsolescence

I’m also not entirely convinced that an embedded touch screen, centered on a dashboard below the sight line of the windshield, is a proven safety enhancement. I think it might make be more effective to pursue a UI that’s primarily voice driven combined with some kind of HUD projected on the interior windshield.

It seems like car tech has a forced obsolescence lifecycle that may rival Apple’s iDevice churn. Any car with a built in GPS screen from even a year ago, is basically a dinosaur. When looking at cars and technology, I think the auto industry would do better to look at what consumer technology habits do not change so quickly.

What’s remained the constant when people travel with technology in other forms of transit? When you get on a commuter rail or a luxury bus liner, do you look for a redundant screen to connect your iPhone too? When you get on a plane, do you want to connect your iPhone to the screen in the seat-back? No, what you immediately look for is Wifi.

Instead of embedding another screen, why not embed a hotspot. Imagine your car being like the Kindle Paperwhite 3G, coming with a Free wireless internet connection that includes unlimited data. Anyone who was a passenger in the car, including the driver, could connect the devices they already have, to the Wifi hotspot that is your car. If you can get free unlimited 3G as a feature of a sub $200 eReader, why not free high speed wireless internet available via on on-board hotspot for a vehicle that costs tens of thousands of dollars? Automakers could even somehow tie it into your allegiance to dealer repairs or something.

That said, I’m not suggesting this wouldn’t be great to also pair with a CarPlay integration that lets you control Volume, Siri and other features from your steering wheel. I guess I just don’t think cars need redundant touch-screens (aka even more future eWaste). Why not just use an iPhone/iPad dashboard mount and present a simpler UI on the iOS device when it’s plugged in to the car?