A Fifth of Cars to be App-Enabled by 2017?

Tuesday, 09 April 2013

If asked to think of a product that uses apps, the first thing to spring to mind would probably be the latest smartphone complete with Angry Birds and Twitter. But in four years time, your car could be just as ‘appy’ as your phone, according to a new report by Juniper research, predicting that as many as 20% of cars in Western Europe and the USA will come complete with app connectivity by 2017.

They’re not just talking about high-end, expensive cars, either. Serious funding and hard work is going into creating products that will help drivers of all budgets to enjoy the full app experience. Organisations such as the Car Connectivity Consortium are working towards products like MirrorLink, with the purpose of seamlessly connecting the car's on-board entertainment system to a smartphone.

At the moment, an app-integrated car could be costly, but Juniper predicts that this type of technology will drive down the price that car manufacturers can charge for their own in-built systems, meaning it will be easier for people to afford these added extras.

Of course, this hasn't put car manufacturers off from investing in their own systems. Across the pond, General Motors and Ford are bringing in teams to help develop their own offerings - even if, at the moment, most in-built app systems come with only a few basic functions, such as music streaming and making restaurant bookings.

Although it’s an exciting development for drivers who want to stay connected on the road, there are some concerns about enabling apps through a dashboard display. According to Which? Magazine, drivers who fiddle with their mobile phones while on the road suffer a 79% reduction in attention; over seven times what they would suffer if they were driving under the influence.

With that in mind, any integration of apps into the driving experience would need to be designed so as not to distract drivers too much - otherwise we could see a marked increase in accidents and car insurance claims.

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