In-car entertainment – which feels odd to even say – is growing by leaps and bounds. According to a recent study by Juniper Research, over 92 million vehicles will be connected to the Internet in some way by 2016. The ability to be online in the car is going to open up a whole new world of entertainment possibilities for us to enjoy as we traverse highways.
Today, many cars offer Internet radio stations, apps that allow you to make dinner reservations, and a whole host of other goodies to keep you entertained during long commutes or cross-country road trips. Car manufactures are coming up with all sorts of systems that are referred to as “infotainment systems” because they mix practical and entertainment applications. The big players thus far are ConnectedDrive from BMW, Sync AppLink from Ford, Intellilink from GM and Entune for Toyota.
Most of these systems can be synced with your phone, allowing you to use them hands-free, and, in some cases, they also work with existing applications on your phone.
As more and more of these car systems make their way into the marketplace, I can only imagine that application developers will flock to them, and then the sky is the limit. Imagine if your car had screens that allowed passengers to watch streaming video from a site such as Netflix.
Of course, something to be considered is the potential for all of this entertainment to distract drivers. Some manufacturers are already disabling things like Web browsers when the car is in any gear other than park, and that’s probably a wise idea–otherwise, some people would try to look up the news online while driving 75 MPH.
If you’re looking at a new car, ask about the online connection options available. You may not see a use for it today, but, depending on how long you own the car, you might be glad you spent the extra money a few years down the road.
As for me — if I can take my favorite Pandora music stations with me, then I’m in.