Photo: Alex Davies
Drivers increasingly prefer using applications on their smartphones to the navigation systems that come installed in their cars.In a survey by J.D. Power and Associates, 46 per cent of respondents said they “definitely would not” or “probably would not” repurchase a navigation system from the manufacturer, if they had the option of displaying their smartphone navigation on a central screen in the car.
Among the 20,704 car owners surveyed, satisfaction with navigation systems was just 681 out of 1,000; a 13-point decrease from 2011.
Manufacturer nav systems have improved in the past year, so why the drop in satisfaction?
It’s simple: Smartphone apps like Google Maps are more advanced than what automakers are offering, so they are preferable.
Damon Lavrinc at Wired argues automakers have two options:
They can continue to refine and adapt embedded navigation systems to offer more intuitive interfaces and smartphone-connected features that drivers are demanding, or completely cede control of the dash to a “dumb screen” that simply mirrors — or modifies for safe driving operation — their smartphone on the vehicle’s central display.
So far, they have gone with the first option. Cadillac promotes CUE, its touchscreen “infotainment” system, as one reason to buy its new ATS and XTS sedans. In our test drive of the XTS, we found CUE more advanced than most systems, but it’s not as good as what smartphone applications like Google Maps offer.
Ford is making a similar push with MyFord Touch, which has been plagued by reliability issues, summed up here by Consumer Reports.
Audi is ahead of the game: Its “Audi Connect” system uses Google’s navigation products, offering car buyers a product they are likely to be familiar with and that has a proven track record.
Eventually, Ford may indirectly give drivers a version of what they want, through its recently released OpenXC: open-source hardware that will allow programmers to create apps for the car’s computer system.
But so far, no automaker has simply provided a way to connect a smartphone with the car’s central display, the seemingly simple solution that many consumers really want.
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