• Mar 29, 2009
Navigation systems have become ubiquitous in vehicles ranging from $100,000 luxury cars to $16,000 compacts. The auto industry has been grappling with the best way to safely navigation, with some companies going to touchscreen units, while others opting for a joystick solution like BMW's iDrive. Either way, you're still taking your eye off the road, making nav use a potentially dangerous endeavor.
Apple may have other plans, however, as Cupertino has filed a patent for a safer touchscreen system. According to the filing, Apple's ideas include voice-activated directions; a detachable, iPhone-like device that can also be used as a still or video camera; and navigation that can only be accessed by the front seat passenger when the vehicle is moving.

The 11-page document also includes mention of wireless communication subsystems, such as 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, CDMA, GSM and EDGE. The wireless communications would enable the nav system to sync up with an iPhone to load information already stored on the latter before entering the car. The proposed Apple system sounds like SYNC on steroids, but the road from the patent office to the dashboard can be a long one. Hit the read link below for more info on Apple's extensive patent filing.

[Source: Apple Insider]


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  • 22 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Think it was a conscious decision to make the chic the driver in the drawing?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Move away from touching it (both joystick and touchscreen) and move towards good voice recognition like Sync has done, for example. Frankly, it's bad enough we have people texting on top of talking on phones (we have all seen these distracted people) when there is no excuse for it. Would love to see the majority of functions in the car controlled by voice from the radio to the wipers. Apple usually hits it with their interfaces (just not their prices) so curious to see how this one pans out. Odd that they opt to enter the auto market now...
      • 5 Years Ago
      people who bash Apple are technophobes.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Great news. Most navigation UIs are terrible. If Apple, or anyone else, wants to try for something better, I say more power to them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Apple is great!

      I have an iPhone 3G and an iPod. Are you going to low-rank me now?
        • 5 Years Ago
        and what do your iPhone and iPod have to do with a good automotive user interface? besides nothing, that is.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Like most companies, you would be suprised where they actually get some of their ideas that you love. Your iPod interface was originally designed by Pixio. The name was thought up by a writer and the name was already copyrighted at the time. At the end of the day, Apple does make it work.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @oki

        Jim isn't hating on Apple; the iPhone is a revolutionary cellphone. That said, even with 3.0 it has one large weakness, other than the lack of keyboard: The iPhone won't even let you multitask, something every single other mobile manufacturer, including windows mobile, manages to do. If it can't compose an e-mail and look at jpegs simultaneously, how is it going to be in charge of operate your cars HVAC, navigation, playing music, etc?

        Not to mention the hurdles any manufacturer would have to jump through to get Job's to agree to have the Apple logo in any car. I could see it happening for Audi, maybe but less likely Mercedes.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Jonathan

        I wouldn't be surprised if this changes for the release of 3.0. Apple must know in welcoming turn-by-turn GPS they must allow applications running in the background.

        The thing that most critics ignore regarding multitasking is that many of the common system tasks can be accomplished by 3rd party developers using a couple lines and the system frameworks. Functionality for taking photos and browsing the web is easily embedded into 3rd party applications with OS 2.0 and emailing and maps browsing have been added to that list with OS 3.0. Combining this framework support with the state-saving behavior Apple recommends for 3rd party applications means that there are few tasks that would benefit from running in the background. Once again, I do see the upcoming turn-by-turn navigation applications as an exception here, but we won't know Apple's official policy until the summer. Not allowing apps in the background is an artificial limitation of the system, so this could change at any time.

        Honestly, I believe Apple intended to restrict 3rd party developers to web applications initially. Otherwise, they probably would have included more than the 128MB of memory in the first generation phones. As it stands currently, 3rd party applications have about 30MB free memory to work with. That's not much room for background applications. It's hard enough to keep within those limits without running into low memory notifications as it is. I suspect this will change dramatically with the next hardware update.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sounds fine as long as I don't see any damn 'click wheels' or 'four finger functions'...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Think of how much better SYNC would have been if Apple had done it? It would make the current SYNC look like a 1st grader designed it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Funny to see pc fanbois ribbing Apple over upgrade fees when Windows has like 6 different tiers to buy compared to one, non stripped OS X release. And $99 for a patch? That's a gem, we get updates 5-6 per paid OS release and they are free. PC users show their ignorance when trying to blast Apple and it's quite amusing.

        And to say it would only be compatible with only Apple products is even more ignorant as macs work with ANY printer and ANY camera OUT OF THE BOX with ZERO 'drivers' to install. Try connecting a brand new printer and getting it print without downloading a driver. You guys really need to own/use regularly a mac before you spew ignorant and misinformed lies.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Stupid apple fanboys."

        Yeah...because the one iPod I own makes me so biased...never mind the two Windows machines I own...
        • 5 Years Ago
        @mikemaj82

        "people who bash Apple are technophobes"

        Funny you say that when its Apple users who say "I like Apple things because they just work, I don't want to spend time learning how to use it".
        • 5 Years Ago
        Rick, that kind of common sense is unwelcome here...
        • 5 Years Ago
        if apple made SYNC, they'd release it half-featured and decide to charge you periodically for updates to make the system what it actually should have been in the first place.

        see: iPhone (copy/paste most notably), iPod touch (bluetooth)
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Think of how much better SYNC would have been if Apple had done it? It would make the current SYNC look like a 1st grader designed it."

        Stupid apple fanboys.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Worry not, anonymous users of cheap, generic PCs. Whatever Apple DOES do, you WILL get a cheap imitation soon enough. Enjoy, LOL!

        Even half-featured, Apple's Sync would be leaps and bounds more usable than Fords and manage not to look like a cheap DOS app for a rental car, programed by the lowest bidder. But maybe Microsoft can offer different versions? You know: Home, Super Home, Business, Business Plus, Semi Pro, Pro, Extra Pro and Super Extra Pro. Different version screens of death would be nice, too. They could match whatever color car you drive!

        And as an Apple/PC user. EVERY music device and peripheral I have works with both machines. No Mac exclusive BS. It's just I do all my creative stuff on the Mac since it just works, I use the PC for web and games...

        Why is it most PC users don't know anything about computers? You posted on this site using one. What gives?
        • 5 Years Ago
        1. SYNC would be compatible only Apple product.
        2. Users would find interesting new uses for the product (e.g. playing internet radio using a cell phone) that would be quickly banned by Apple with firmware updates.
        3. Going from SYNC 1.0 to 2.0 would cost an extra $99 upgrade because it's a new version and not a patch.

        Think I covered it pretty well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There's nothing wrong with Apple products. If you like them go ahead. It's just that most PC users value freedom. It's like with cars. I'm sure if you sold a car with the hood locked so that only the manufacturer can open it, most people wouldn't notice the difference. But for people like me, I work so much with computers that freedom is what I want. Sure you get good software with Apple, but what if I want an Ipod without iTunes? Or hell what if I want to use an ipod with linux? Not only will Apple not let you do that, they actively prevent you from doing it. It's just not a business model I support.

        Also SYNC is awesome. Incredibly intuitive and easy to use. You can complain all you want about Microsoft screwing up products (I'm writing this response with Firefox), but they got SYNC right.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Even half-featured, Apple's Sync would be leaps and bounds more usable than Fords and manage not to look like a cheap DOS app for a rental car,"

        Uh, tell me how Sync "looks like a cheap DOS app" when it has no physical user interface.

        "But maybe Microsoft can offer different versions? You know: Home, Super Home, Business, Business Plus, Semi Pro, Pro, Extra Pro and Super Extra Pro. Different version screens of death would be nice, too."

        Sync has no screen to show anything. You're quoting right out of the Apple zealot playbook, though.

        "Why is it most PC users don't know anything about computers?"

        We do. Unless you are one of those who insists that anyone who knows anything about computers must knob-slobber Apple.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, Ford went to Apple first. For some reason something happened and so they went to Microsoft instead.
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