For years, companies have been falling over themselves trying to connect the growing technological world to the automotive world. There have been prototypes for autonomous cars that communicate amongst themselves on the road, there was the trial run of the infamous Google Glass (still in the works), and there has been endless chatter about bringing the web to vehicle dashboards. Well, Apple has finally released their latest answer to the technology/automotive question: CarPlay.
As many people already know, CarPlay has been one of the most talked about technological upgrades of the year; it is a gadget that creates connectivity between cars and a person’s iPhone. For ravenous onlookers, it’s been a long wait (9 months to be exact) since Apple’s original announcement of the gadget. This week at the Geneva Motor Show, the product was finally unveiled to the public.
And so far, it looks like there are mixed reviews on the device. But whether you like it or not may depend on if you are a “glass is half full” or “glass is half empty” type person.
On the bright side, CarPlay opens up a world that has never before been available, providing maps, messaging, music, and all of the best features of an iOS. Adding to the new plethora of functionality, CarPlay has also established a message control system that will be controlled by the driver’s voice. This feature will allow drivers to listen to their voicemails and go through texts with the help of Siri, the programs speech recognition “personal assistant.”
However, there is some grumbling about the current setup, including the voice activated system. One of the main questions is: why isn’t every app voice activated? Writer Jacob Kastrenakes is one of these critics; he says, “For some reason [messaging] is the only app shown for which Apple has made the interface almost entirely reliant on voice control…It’ll certainly prevent drivers from reading through their text message history when they shouldn’t, but it’s somewhat strange that this appears to be the sole app that Apple has designed this way.”
Of course, this isn’t the only criticism facing CarPlay. Many people are already complaining that the product does not move as fast as a smartphone or tablet. Then, others are wondering why there are no third party apps like Facebook and Twitter available. Really, all this sounds like is a bunch of nitpicking. And most people seem to be missing the point.
Today, people want their technology and their social media available to them 24-7 with no interruptions. If anything takes away from their full capacity to be plugged in, there is a infantile outcry. They don’t want their freedom to be limited! But what’s really bad about all of this is the fact that people are unwilling to admit that all of this technology may be dangerous. In a 2013 study released from Texas A&M, it was reported that the reaction times of drivers texting and/or using voice to text applications were twice as slow. “The amount of time that drivers spent looking at the roadway ahead was significantly less when they were texting, no matter which texting method was used.”
The University of Utah released similar findings, too. In a study led by psychology professor David Strayer- who has worked closely with AAA over the years- driving is significantly impacted by hands free technology. He says, “Our research shows that hands-free is not risk-free. These new, speech-based technologies in the car can overload the driver’s attention and impair their ability to drive safely. An unintended consequence of trying to make driving safer – by moving to speech-to-text, in-vehicle systems – may actually overload the driver and make them less safe.”
Unfortunately, consumers are paying very little attention to these findings. Being plugged in to the rapidly changing, high anxiety world is now what’s most important, and in a twist of irony, it’s the greedy, money driven companies that are showing some restraint.