Smartphone on Wheels

Categories: Digital TransformationTechnology

Over the past decade, cars have undergone a significant transformation to provide a more connected experience for drivers. Cars are connected to the surroundings more than ever. There are ways to make payments for gas right from the infotainment system. A lot of sensors in cars can detect its health and provide information with predictive failure analysis. One of the most noticeable changes has been the integration with Smartphone ecosystems – Apple and Google that allows for seamless connectivity between the car and the outside world.


Many Smartphones OEMs such as Apple, Google, LG, Sony and many more have started building their own cars and partner with other car brands to provide technology. They are bringing the app ecosystem to cars. It is a lot earlier for them to bring cars to the mobile app ecosystem than it is for car OEMs to build a new ecosystem.

Another significant development in connected cars is the incorporation of smart sensors, 5G tech and other IoT devices that allow for remote monitoring and control of the vehicle. For example, some cars now have built-in sensors that can detect when the vehicle needs maintenance or repair and can alert the driver to take action.

Let’s first understand how Smartphones became so popular and what it means for the car industry.

How Smartphones Became So Popular:

Smartphones have become an integral part of our lives in just a short period of time. They have changed the way we communicate, access information, and even how we interact with the world around us. But how did they become so popular and why are they now so important to us?

The first smartphones were introduced in the early 2000s and they were primarily used for making phone calls and sending text messages. However, it wasn’t until the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 that smartphones truly began to take off. The iPhone was simple to use, with its sleek design, intuitive interface, and access to a wide range of apps, quickly becoming a game-changer in the mobile phone industry.

One of the main reasons smartphones became so popular is the convenience they offer. You can access the internet, check emails, watch movies, listen to music, connect with friends anywhere, any time of the day. 

Another reason for the popularity of smartphones is the wide range of apps available. With the app stores, you can find apps for almost anything you can imagine, from games and entertainment to productivity tools and social media. The app stores also made it easy for developers to create and distribute their own apps, which has led to an explosion of new and innovative apps.

Over the years smartphone tech has advanced and the developer community also grew so fast that we can’t imagine any digital experience without smartphones and apps. Now is the time to replicate the success of smartphones into other products and devices.

What is Beyond Smartphones?

As the growth for the smartphone market has slowed over the years, the tech industry is looking for an answer – What’s next for Smartphones? Companies have been working on new devices such as smart glasses, AR/R devices, wearables etc. which can reach the popularities of smartphones but no real success yet. These new types of devices have not been able to get users adoption to become an everyday use device which is easy and natural to use, connected with users’ surroundings and provide a contextual experience. 

The true expansion of smartphones might not be limited to the 6 inch smartphone itself, but rather beyond that. Consider smartphones as a flexible notion that connects the digital world around you and seamlessly integrates with next-generation interfaces in households, cars, offices, and even public transportation.

Can Cars become the Next Smartphone?

Cars are quickly becoming the next generation of smartphones, offering drivers a more personalized in-car experience through the use of apps and other advanced technologies.


One of the main ways that cars are becoming more like smartphones is through the integration of app-based technology. Today, many new cars come equipped with large, high-resolution touchscreen displays that allow drivers to easily access a wide variety of apps and features. These apps can range from music and media streaming services to navigation and traffic updates, and even social media and messaging apps.


One of the challenges with traditional infotainment systems is that these are not smart and well connected to the current iOS and Android ecosystem which customers are already familiar with. Now with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, any car can transform its infotainment system to a smartphone like display. Users can use their smartphone apps directly in the car. They are more likely to use these apps when connected to Car Play and Android Auto.


Apple and Google are now moving towards building the car operating system so that users don’t need to connect their smartphones. Car’s infotainment systems will run on either iOS or Android CarOS and connected to 5G technology. Users will get the same experience in the car as they have on smartphones without really connecting smartphones to cars. These cars will switch the user’s context to the car and provide personalized experiences.


New types of apps will be invented to be used in cars. Driverless cars will open new possibilities where passengers can use them to take conference calls, watch movies or shop during the ride. These cars can easily switch the context based on the passenger inside. For self-driving taxis, as soon as a passenger gets in, it can change the lighting, temperature, music and more based on passengers’ preference. 


As per a recent announcement from Mercedes, it is bringing TikTok and YouTube to its cars so that drivers and passengers can experience the same experiences in the car that they get on smartphones. Integrating video apps in cars can lead to safety issues however car companies are putting safety measures such as drivers cannot watch videos/movies while driving. Screen and content on the passenger side is placed such that the driver cannot view the content. 


Mercedes is also expanding the range of available apps in its E-Class infotainment system to include popular applications such as Zoom video conferencing, Angry Birds, Vivaldi web browser, and Webex by Cisco. Moreover, the automaker plans to introduce additional apps via over-the-air software updates.


To simplify the process of integrating third-party apps into the infotainment system, Mercedes has developed a new software architecture. Furthermore, Mercedes has launched a new app store that can be accessed through the Mercedes me app.


In addition to apps, cars are also becoming more personalized through the use of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and other technologies. For example, many new cars now come with features like lane departure warning, automatic braking, and adaptive cruise control, which can help drivers stay safe and comfortable on the road.


Car OEMs are also exploring subscription business models where they install the features but only enable them using software if customers are willing to pay an extra monthly cost. Tesla made this model popular after enabling self-driving capability using software updates. Other OEMs are also following up this trend. BMW is selling an $18 monthly subscription for heated seats. 


Voice assistant integration from Google, Apple and Alexa are making it more like a smartphone ecosystem. Many new cars now come with built-in voice assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant, which allow drivers to control various aspects of the car’s systems using only their voice. This can include things like adjusting the temperature, changing the music, or even making phone calls, all without ever having to take their hands off the wheel.


As cars continue to evolve and become more advanced, they will undoubtedly become even more like smartphones, with more personalized and convenient features that make driving safer, more enjoyable, and more connected. With the advancements in autonomous technology, cars are also becoming more of a connected device, giving a possibility to many new features and services. These features, such as in-car entertainment, productivity tools, and personalized settings, have the potential to greatly enhance the driving experience for drivers and passengers alike.


Overall, cars are becoming the next generation of smartphones, offering drivers a more personalized and connected experience on the road. As technology continues to advance and cars continue to evolve, we can expect to see even more features and capabilities that make driving safer, more convenient, and more enjoyable for everyone.




Krishna Singh

Principal Architect, Technology

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