Car Time – July 2022


Infotainment Good, Bad, Ugly?

    These days, having factory screens in vehicles is as common as carrying a smartphone. It’s something that was unimaginable 20 years ago, but today they are an integral part of our daily lives.
    Just 20 years ago, having a navigation system in your car was a wow factor. Who needs Mapquest or a AAA map when you had the luxury to type in an address and have all the directions right in your very own vehicle? It was around this time, car phones were phasing out due to the rising popularity of cell phones. See a pattern?
    Jump to 2014 and you could still order a vehicle with or without navigation, but by this time, smartphones were quite advanced, and it became normal to use your phone for navigation because of and to get real-time information.
    Not every vehicle had a display screen at that time. Some did, due to their aesthetic nature, whether for a back-up camera or to utilize a screen for A/C controls or a settings menu.
    It was easy to distinguish who spent more money between 2002-2010 to upgrade their interior with a factory navigation screen. By today’s standards, seeing an old pixilated screen really dates a vehicle, as opposed to having a simple stereo.
    By 2014, factory navigation was becoming obsolete in comparison to a smartphone’s capabilities. Then it was announced in 2014 that by 2018 it would be mandatory for all new vehicles to have a back-up camera.
    This shift meant every single vehicle, regardless of trim, would have a screen, serving multiple purposes: displaying a camera, menu settings, A/C controls, and of course, navigation.
    Manufactures were designing their UI (User Interface) to be user-friendly, but a lot of them missed the mark. In the midst of this, people were using an AUX cable, or Bluetooth from the factory, to play music or make calls, and still handling their smartphone for navigation, which was a safety concern.
    So what’s the answer?
    It’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
    Integrating your smartphone’s UI to work on your vehicle’s native screen and controls just makes sense, since people already interact with it daily. Of course there are limitations adhering to safety concerns. In other words, you can’t watch YouTube and drive. Our vehicles are now an extension of our smartphones. So, what’s next?

Xavier Estrada can be reached at

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