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A closer look at Mercedes' next-gen infotainment concept (video)

In the A-Class concept vehicle, smartphones are tightly integrated with the vehicle entertainment system, and social media apps are the main attraction.


The Mercedes-Benz A-Class concept that debuted last Spring at the New York Auto Show was a hit with showgoers, and now its infotainment system is getting a close up. Mercedes released a video demoing its infotainment system, and it could provide clues to what the future of connectivity in Mercedes-Benz vehicles will look like.

In most next-generation infotainment systems, smartphones are seamlessly integrated with the vehicle electronics. In the A Class concept, they're literally inserted into the console like a DVD or coin-operated washing machine. When connected, the smartphone provides Internet access and makes the approved social media and entertainment apps available on the large, dash-mounted display.

Using the Mercedes-Benz smartphone app, occupants can cycle through Facebook status updates, Twitter feeds, and e-mails--all of which are read out loud to minimize driver distraction. The text-to-speech voice capability sounds so pitifully retro that you wouldn't be blamed for wondering if it was a deliberate design decision to appeal to hipsters. It's also endearing to see that Mercedes is sticking with the dial rather than opting for a touch-screen display.

Integrating social-media features is key to attracting a younger demographic, and it's what most auto manufacturers are already doing. Automakers expect that millennials want to continue their connected lifestyle in their vehicles, and don't want their life to stop just because they're in a car. Mercedes' Media Interface Plus already offers some app integration, but with a far less bold user interface.