Cool cars are a sort of toy to those who can afford big engines and have the adrenaline for high speeds. But what makes a car cool goes beyond just the surface. The automotive industry is shifting its focus from horsepower to the technology inside the cabin. Navigation, smart-driver systems and advanced dash units all contribute to a better driving experience. And as Americans often have long commutes, the quality inside the car is starting to trope what we’re sporting under the hood. Here are a few of the auto-technology fads emerging this year.
Smartphone GPS is almost as old as the first-generation iPhone (2007). And as handy as GPS-at-your-fingertips can be, it has always had one barrier: real-time updates. Traffic jams, road construction, car accidents … Accessing the information on your daily commute is dependent on how fast the service provider can push it to your device.
Google Maps reports crucial data, but it’s not instant, something useful when you’re just moments away from a jam.
Waze is a free community-based navigation app that relies on user feedback to deliver real-time information, and awards a gamified point system to keep members engaged. As you drive down the highway, Waze learns your daily route and can warn you of upcoming jams while also suggesting alternatives. In return, to make Waze a more effective community, you can report accidents, police stops and even low gas prices (all hands free, of course).
Tesla Motors, one of the world’s most popular electric car manufacturers, is known for packing cutting-edge technology into its vehicles. Its flagship car, the Model S, is already a modern marvel. It’s a full luxury sedan that accelerates from 0 to 60 in less than four seconds without using a single drop of gasoline. Now Tesla plans to make driving even more incredible by taking your hands off the wheel and foot off the gas pedal.
It’s called Autopilot, and it’s essentially a driverless feature that works on the freeway. When activated, the Model S uses a series of sensors surrounding the car to read nearby traffic, road signs, lines in the street, and other environmental factors so it can drive down the highway without you. If this catches on with other companies, it could revolutionize driver education and the trust we put in automobile technology.
Advanced car systems have also come a long way, with the in-dash units that connect with your phone to play music, answer phone calls and send texts and emails. The challenge is there are so many different smartphones, and updates for smartphone software, it’s tough to pair them all just right. That’s why Apple came in to bridge the gap.
CarPlay is iOS right in your dash. The touch screen interface connects with your iPhone and runs all its best features right through you car — hands free. iTunes, Spotify, Messages, Mail, Maps … all of Apple’s favorites are available right through a Siri request. And since it only pairs with the iPhone, you know it will bond perfectly.