Granted, I’m not the car guru — that would be one Mr. Mike Perlman, who’s Geneva Auto Show–bound this week with our own Jon Rettinger — but I just couldn’t skip over this one.
When Ford announced the MyFord Touch interface, v2, last year, it also did the unthinkable: It promised current users that they’d be able to update to the latest version. That update, reports WebProNews, will be arriving this week.
This is a huge development. It’s not (just) because it has to do with cars, and we’re all “Need for speed” all up in the TechnoBuffalo think tank. It’s because this is the very first time a car company is letting current owners upgrade their vehicles’ software — just like they’d update the firmware on a smartphone, tablet, TV or settop box. The only difference is that it won’t happen via download, but by way of a snail-mailed USB stick.
Even so, this is a radical concept in the industry. Automobile makers were once known for a paradoxically slow-moving methodology, with product cycles that sometimes stretched into years. But lately, it seems like they’re on fire with the innovations. And consider this: Seeing that they’re allowing for software updates now, could they even take it a step further? It wouldn’t take a big leap in logic to believe that bona fide car apps could be on the road map somewhere.
Imagine buying a vehicle with only a basic touch interface (which, frankly, can be dangerous while driving). One software update later, and you get capacitive controls that are larger and more user-friendly, not to mention voice-control features, that can cut down on distractions while driving. Now picture being able to download some car apps that suddenly give you voice-guided navigation, memo transcription, Tweets and status updates that are read out loud to you, and all the latest traffic and weather specific to your route. We know these features are already possible, but they’re not exactly standard, and they come at a premium.
In contrast, I could see better and more cost-effective offerings on the horizon, as app developers compete for your business. Instead of lamenting about how outdated your car is, someday you could cherry pick and add certain apps at will that could expand and enhance your experience. Yes, just like you do for your smartphone.
Think about it: If software updates and apps jump the fence from mere phones, tablets and Smart TVs, and into the yard of more major industries like this, it could change everything about the way we consume and use a wide variety of products. This thought, more than anything else, is the truly exciting aspect of this — and it seems to be where we’re heading.
What products would you love to see get the app treatment?