Apple’s CarPlay Has Just Been Released and Some People Are Disappointed

carplayFor 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.”

iphoneOf 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.

Congressman Rockefeller Thinks There Should Be a Crackdown on Technology in Automobiles

Jay RockefellerYesterday, Congressman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. VA) convened an unusual all-day forum in Washington to discuss the use of technology while driving a car. Rockefeller, who is in the middle of his final stint in Congress, said, “Why is it so important for kids to drive around and update Facebook statuses? For teenagers, it’s a way of being cool. For those of you who sell cars, it’s a way of you being cool and making a lot of money from that. How many people have died? How many people have almost died?”

facebookRockefeller does make a good point. In fact, a number of states have already moved on this initiative by implementing bans on texting and driving. Of course, this has already been at the center of a number of controversies. Some people believe that laws like this are infringing upon personal freedoms. Others have been highly skeptical about courts and police officers even being able to stop the use of handheld technology. After all, it was just last month that a California judge ruled that a woman driving while using her Google Glass would not be punished, citing that there was a lack of evidence to prove that the device was actually in use.

But did Rockefeller waste everyone’s time in Washington this week? Is he just an old curmudgeon who wants to battle the evil of technology? The answer may be yes. Technology is moving at such a fast rate that texting and driving or updating Facebook and driving may come and go quicker than a gust of wind.

audi-googleAutomakers have already been hard at work incorporating technology into new vehicles, which would make it unnecessary for people to text with their hands while driving. One of the leading manufacturers in this movement is Audi. According to reports, Audi and Google have been teaming up to create in-car, voice activated infotainment systems that would render texting and driving obsolete.

In a report from NBC News, author Keith Wagstaff says, “Imagine a future where you’re racing your Audi through the streets and you get lost. There will be no need to pick up your phone. Instead, you’ll just give a voice command to your dashboard, which will bring up navigation software. You will also be able to send an email to your friend telling him you will be late and play your favorite song to cheer you up — all without taking your eyes off of the road or your hands off of the steering wheel.”

Rockefeller, however, is weary of this blooming technology, as well. He says, “I’m very unhappy. I’m very nervous, not just about deaths but about close-to-death injuries. All for the sake of outdoing each other and making more money.” To many, statements like this only make Rockefeller seem like a technologically challenged man. After all, growing up in this day and age requires the ability to multitask. It requires that people be plugged in 24-7, 365. As Will Smith once said, Parents Just Don’t Understand.

What does everybody think about Rockefeller’s statements?

Be Careful Drivers: Google Glass Is Now on the Roads. This Can’t Be Safe, Right?

Cecilia Abadie became the first person to be ticketed for driving with a Google Glass. She rarely takes the device off.

Cecilia Abadie became the first person to be ticketed for driving with a Google Glass. She rarely takes the device off.

In October of last year, Cecilia Abadie was pulled over by a San Diego officer for speeding and wearing a Google Glass while driving…………. Wait, what? What is Google Glass?

The Google Glass, which is slotted for release later this year, is a head-mounted computer display that is attached to the upper right corner of a specialized pair of glasses. The small square monitor is voice activated and designed to display text messages, e-mails, and will feature Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. At the time of her citation, Abadie was one of 30,000 people that were selected to be “explorers” for the new Google product.

Initial reports about Abadie’s citations quickly gained steam and soon became a national media story. The circumstances were unprecedented and Google was involved; what more could a salivating news reporter want? Over the past few months, debate has raged on about what should be done about these devices when it comes to driving. Well, on Thursday of last week, Commissioner John Blair made the first court decision concerning the potential problem. He dropped all charges against Ms. Abadie and cited that there was a lack of evidence to prove that the Google device was actually in use.

One thing is for sure, this recent decision will be the beginning of a firestorm of political debate. Will we or won’t we allow these devices? And to what extent? Of course, the tekkies have already come out in swarms trying to defend the device.

Google, on the other hand, has side stepped all controversy by being overly diplomatic. In a recent released statement, the company said, “Glass is built to connect you more with the world around you, not distract you from it. As we make clear in our help center, Explorers should always use Glass responsibility and put their safety and the safety of others first.” Not surprisingly, the company didn’t address whether or not the Google Glass is safe to drive with. Instead, they will lean on the courts to decide that.

Check out Good Morning America’s Report:

If history serves any indication, state courts will treat this new device in ways that are similar way to texting and driving. Currently, every state seems to have different interpretations and levels of enforcement when it comes to texting and driving. Unfortunately though, these laws often seem to do nothing except quiet complaints and public murmuring. Take a look at Florida, for example. Last year, Florida joined a growing number of states that were outlawing texting while driving. However, they have already had problems proving that drivers are actually texting. This is because of the inherent loop holes when it comes to “outside technology” and driving. Check out Florida’s official law concerning the matter:

So far, most states haven't cracked down on texting and driving. Don't expect anything different for the Google Glass

So far, most states haven’t cracked down on texting and driving. Don’t expect anything different for the Google Glass

“[Governor Rick Scott’s] bill strictly prohibits reading electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle. However, drivers may still view navigational devices, electronic maps, or safety alerts- such as those regarding weather- without fear of penalty.”

Reports have already come out about drivers side stepping potential tickets by claiming that they are covering up texting by claiming that they are using their map and checking the weather. In essence, the laws mean very little because there is nothing that can be done to prove otherwise. In the end, if states really want to crack down on this potentially dangerous problem, they are going to have to take a stricter stance on both the Google Glass and texting. Until then, be careful on the roads because people really won’t be paying attention.