Ars Technica has a review of Android Auto.
While we love the interface, we just wish there was more of it. Android Auto only covers a subset of the things you would want to do on an infotainment system. The result is an interface that – depending on what you want to do – will have you bouncing back and forth between two different interfaces. It’s almost like installing Windows 8 in your car – you’ve got one modern, incomplete interface paired with a more comprehensive legacy interface. Android Auto can’t control the AM/FM radio, CD player, or satellite radio. You also can’t adjust the screen brightness, pair a device with the car, or mess with any other settings. Every time you start the car, it launches the ugly stock infotainment system, and you’ve got to plug your phone in and hit the Android Auto icon. Expect to switch from the beautiful-but-limited Android Auto interface to the slow, chuggy, tasteless OEM interface a lot.
Can anyone with knowledge on the matter explain to me why, exactly, car manufacturers have such outdated, crappy in-car software? And why, even when we have something like Android Auto that could power everything, do they insist on only letting it do a subset, dumping you back to their own crap software for everything else? Why is the car itself running Gingerbread (yes, Gingerbread!)?
Why are they so incompetent?
My understanding is that Android Auto can’t control everything yet (like climate control or general vehicle settings). Even if Android Auto/Apple CarPlay did have these functions, the manufacturer can’t assume that the driver always has a smart phone with them.
So the manufacture needs to make their own infotainment system. Why is it so old and crappy? I would say because:
– Car infotainment systems are expected to be stable and robust. They have to go through more rigorous testing than a smart phone. Development is much slower and the manufacturer isn’t going to switch to something new (and repeat a lot of development and testing) without a compelling reason.
– The manufacture has less resources to dedicate to the infotainment system (and are less willing to dedicate the resources they have). Car manufacturing is less profitable (bigger profit margin but far less sales), and the infotainment is, at least traditionally, not a major selling point for the car.