Monday, December 3, 2012

Hello, Car Makers: We Have Smartphones

Despite the fact that half of all adult Americans carry a smartphone, car manufacturers seem to be living in denial, continuing to produce vehicles with nowhere to put them. I was just in a Nissan dealership to get an oil change and the latest vehicles (2013 Altima and Sentra) still have no dedicated spot where a phone can be placed in a visible area so you can look at your navigation, music, etc. while in the car.

It's certainly not because it's too distracting, especially if you consider the exploding complexity of in-car infotainment systems in the last few years and the fact that it's more dangerous for drivers to keep the phone in a cupholder or other compartment and then have to look down to see the screen.

Car makers: Here's what needs to happen:

  • Put a compartment near the top of the center stack where we can dock our phones. Don't make it so far away that we can't reach the screen.
  • Since there are so many different brands of phones and the product cycle is so fast, it doesn't make sense to tailor the space to one brand of phone. Make it big enough to fit every smartphone from the $99 special up to a ginormous Galaxy Note with a 5-inch screen. There should be a secure method of holding the device in place and angle the screen to a comfortable angle for the driver.
  • Put in a standard USB port so we can connect any smartphone, whether it uses micro-USB, iPod, Lightning, or whatever future connector the phone guys are imagining to make our lives more complicated.
  • Adequately power the USB port so the phone actually charges. I'm talking >2 amps, not 500 mA, m'kay? Bonus points if I can charge while the car is off.
  • Make sure the compartment isn't made of all metal and blocks our phone and GPS signals.
  • Put a little door over the compartment that we can close when we leave the car to discourage theft.
This needs to happen yesterday.

Any other ideas? Put them in the comments below.

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