As Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make an impact, overall progress stalls

Image Credit: Audi

Don’t ever push the voice button on any new car.

If you don’t have a phone hooked up using a USB cable, it’s a little embarrassing.

The “voice assistance” enabled on most cars these days, from nearly every automaker, is about seven years out of date. You can move to the next track for the current song, walk through a complex decision tree to get directions (usually in a way that requires you spell out the exact street names), and maybe activate the Bluetooth connection if you’re lucky. That’s it. An entire button on most new cars that basically does something you could do way back in 2010? Not good.

I know this because I first started testing cars around 2010, and the buttons worked the same way. They can’t come close to anything related to AI, don’t answer questions, can’t understand simple navigation requests, and are basically ornamental now that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have become so common. The problem, of course, is that CarPlay and Android Auto haven’t really changed that much in the past two years, so progress on voice assistants in cars, when you think about the market as a whole, has stalled out…or is at least waiting for Apple and Google to get busy with some new innovations beyond adding a few more commands and an app or two.

Don’t get me wrong, I like how the phone bots work. Once you connect up an iPhone or a Google Pixel phone, for example, you can control your…