CarPlay & Android Auto, too late for OEMs?
Summary: Every new car model has either CarPlay or Android Auto or both. Apple and Google are influencing in-car UX by offering an interface that is matching customer expectations and is safe to use in the car, perhaps safer than most OEM systems. I believe that UX is becoming a significant brand differentiator. OEMs should own their UX and invest the resources for a total-HMI strategy that a) takes into account brand DNA, b) creates UX for all digital surfaces, and c) deeply understands people's needs.
Where are we today? CarPlay and Android Auto are available in almost every new car model. Today, people can connect their phones to the infotainment and use the car's controls & touchscreen to access their digital content, communicate, navigate. Drivers and passengers can completely bypass the software designed by the OEM and still have access to the majority of infotainment use cases. OK, but I guess it is not as safe as the built-in system, is it?
A recent study suggests that CarPlay and Android Auto are safer to use than OEMs' built-in systems. The study compared CarPlay, Android Auto and five built-in systems of US car models. I have to be clear here, there are still many open questions and study items (comparison with more cars from EU, additional use cases to be tested, 3rd party apps). However, there is a clear indication from the study results: CarPlay and Android Auto are safer to use than OEM built-in systems.
What should OEMs do? Should OEMs stop doing infotainment software and outsource their UX to Apple and Google? I argue that UX is a core competency, with increasing significance, and outsourcing it completely to Apple or Google or any other 3rd party it would be a huge mistake long-term, although today might seem convenient for a lot of OEMs (infotainment systems are a pain!). Automotive UX includes so much more than Android Auto and CarPlay can offer; more experiences, instrument cluster, HUD, companion apps, digital services, rear infotainment. However, execution is key and many OEMs haven't been very successful so far with their UX.
Short-term: OEMs should invest more resources (Strategy - Research - Product Development) into an evidence-based product development to ensure that their brand DNA is part of a harmonised customer experience. We have seen that strategy from BMW with the iDrive, and fairly recently from Mercedes (MBUX) and the VW group (VW, Audi & Porsche primarily).
Med-term: OEMs should understand how they can leverage the state-of-the-art technology of the CE world, while maintaining their brand identity. Good examples are Audi and Volvo working closely with Google for their next generation infotainment. The GENIVI alliance had similar aspirations, but I am not aware of any recent activity.
Long-term vision for automotive Digital UX, total-HMI. OEMs should not stop at the first solution that works, they should refine the solution to something that is elegant, simple and adds to customer experience. The customer should feel that every pixel of the HMI was considered holistically. OEMs should create a frictionless UX, a UX that is consistent in-car and out-of-car, taking into account all digital surfaces, brought in devices and digital services. With more autonomous features, in-car UX will change from a driver-centric interface to an interface that connects all occupants and UX will influence where people will want spend their time and money.
cluster sketch template: http://caruxd.com/downloads/