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Device and Conquer
Connected CarsMeet the biggest piece of personal tech you own.
-A connected car. If you're like most people, you're not real sure what that is. What it isn't is plugging in your iPod or making some Bluetooth call. It's about your car getting on the internet or through the internet, to services that make driving better. Here's how and why you do it. Connected cars are cars that connect to or through the internet, wirelessly, of course for one or 4 major reasons, communication, navigation, entertainment, and telematics. Let me lay those out for you. Communication, this goes way beyond Bluetooth calling on connected car. We're talking about Facebook, Twitter updates, even text being read to you aloud. Now, since I can see you cringing already, note that these technologies make big use of voice command going forward. Navigation in cars today is lame. You have BYOA and then punch that thing into the screen manually. It's really tedious. Connected navigation is so much better. You search for where you want to go right on the nav screen, and then tell the car to take you there. Entertainment, in the car that used to mean radio, CD, later you got your iPod hooked up as well, but on the connected car it means a lot more like streaming radio, predictive services like Pandora as we see on the Scion or services that bring the entire nation's streaming radio stations like iheartradio in this Toyota. Telematics, now that used to mean services like OnStar where you've go the button you hit when you hit a tree or your conks out, but telematics in the connected car goes way beyond that including going mobile, integrating your smartphone. Look at this version on a smartphone that will connect to a connected chevy, to lock and unlock the doors, start the engine and warm the car up, even tell the car to start charging if it happens to be an electric vehicle. Now, let's talk about how all these services get connected in the first place. The first connected cars most of us have already encountered are cars with OnStar. They have a built in kind of basic cellular data radio in the vehicle, but it's only there to serve those telematics functions of OnStar and not lot of the fun stuff we're talking about today. Now, many of the earliest connected cars in the market now are getting online through a tethered connection to your smartphone and it's done via Bluetooth connection between your phone and the car. The car can then piggyback on your phone's 3G data. Systems like Ford Sync and Toyota Entune work that way. Now, the newest trend on connectivity is to have a 3G radio built in to the car. So, you don't even need to have a phone of any kind. BMW and Audi are really out front early. So, when you're next to the market for a new car and you want it to be a connected car, here are the 3 things, you've got to size up to get the right one. First of all, services, what is it support of the big 4 I've told you about? Just think CNET, communication, navigation, entertainment, telematics. Second, apps, what apps does the car support and don't expect them to live on your phone or mobile device or do they live in the car, important distinction. Thirdly, connectivity, where does the car get its connection and what's it going to cost you? So, as you can see, the connected car has moved from if to when to now, and in doing do, the car takes it place alongside the rest of our digital places giving us the same services we enjoy at home, at work, and in devices in the palms of our hands. Driving is gonna get a lot more interesting.