Move Over Microsoft: Google Hit Cars

Category: Technology / Jan 06, 2014 7:08PM EDT

Today, we’re going to talk about cars. Now, stay with me - this is normally a tech show, I know, but I promise this is important.

Google is partnering with carmakers like GM, Audi, and Honda to bring new infotainment systems to cars. So, why is that a big deal?

Well, in our increasingly connected world, it’s getting tougher to find buyers for “basic” cars these days, especially when even cheaper segments offer a multitude of high-tech systems. Take Microsoft’s addition to the industry: MyFordTouch. If you’ve been in a Ford in the past three years, you’ve seen the system in action. But it’s honestly pretty buggy, even after all the software updates. And as a completely new system, user complaints rolled in - let’s be honest, who wants to re-learn a computer system for one kind of car? I had similar complaints a few years back with BMW’s iDrive system. Needlessly convoluted.

So, Google’s out to put Android-based systems in millions of new cars. The good news is that we might actually get usable, decent electronic packages straight from the factories for a decent price - even modern in-dash GPS units are pathetic, just look at the Mazdaspeed3. And manufacturers charge like a thousand dollars for navigation packages!

What Google’s stock systems would be closest to are the modified dashes we’ve seen the past few years, as more people have shoved tablets into their center consoles. This way, you can integrate your phone, emails, whatever, along with Google’s frankly fantastic maps program - seriously, Google Maps regularly embarrasses dedicated GPS units, even today. The only real problem with an in-dash tablet is that you have to look down as the map instead of forward, like traditional mobile GPS units.

Part of me wants to reject all of this - you don’t need to be constantly connected. I feel we’re too crazy about it already.Then again, I still drive an old car with a manual gearbox and hydraulic steering, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt.

But at the same time, there’s no reason that cars’ center consoles shouldn’t be completely controlled by touch screen these days. Cars are increasingly technical and electronic, unfortunately. At least this way, you’ll still have to drive.

The reality is: Google isn’t the first major company to make infotainment systems...but unlike previous iterations, Google has a really good track record of making their mobile products work.