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A mockup of the new Telenav integration in a Toyota dashboard. Images via Toyota, Telenav; mockup by GeekWire
A mockup of the new Telenav integration in a Toyota dashboard. Images via Toyota, Telenav; mockup by GeekWire

Linking up your phone and your car for anything more than playing music is a problem that has yet to be solved.

While Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto are designed to solve the issue, they eliminate carmakers from the equation, which means carmakers aren’t likely to adopt them quickly.

UIEvolution CEO Chris Ruff
UIEvolution CEO Chris Ruff

“None of them want to just become a dumb internet screen for a smartphone,” said UIEvolution CEO Chris Ruff. “The car manufacturers have invested over 100 years in brand, in brand equity, in the promise of their product, and they want to have the ability to keep control of [their cars’ software].”

UIEvolution’s latest partnership pairs the 2016 Toyota Tacoma and navigation input from Telenav without either company giving up control of their software.

The 2016 Toyota Tacoma will the the first car to have the new Telenav Scout GPS Link app
The 2016 Toyota Tacoma will the the first car to have the new Telenav Scout GPS Link app

By using Telenav’s upcoming Scout GPS Link app for iOS or Android, customers can find directions on their phone and wirelessly transfer those directions to the car’s built-in navigation system, thanks to smartphone integration frameworks from UIEvolution.

In a LinkedIn post from earlier this summer, Ruff compared connected cars to the smartphone revolution. He wrote that carmakers could drop the ball, just as carriers did.

When the iPhone was introduced in 2007, AT&T altered the way they did business to secure exclusive rights to the device. That deal changed the way cellular carriers controlled phones and gave Apple a chunk of the market once dominated by carriers.

Ruff fears that automakers who add Android Auto or CarPlay to their systems are giving up that control as well. And with both Google and Apple making moves in the car market, Ruff warns they may use their place in the dashboard now to draw users into their cars in the future.

“This is a bold strategy cloaked in the halo of improving the connected car experience for smartphone users,” Ruff wrote. “If successful, the automotive brands we love could become a distant memory in the future.”

Apple's CarPlay
Apple’s CarPlay

It’s more than just keeping away future competition, though. Carmakers may not want to surrender their software to another brand, losing the ability to control how people interact with their cars. In order to do so, carmakers will need to make in-vehicle screens as easy to use as smartphones.

Today’s partnership between Toyota and Telenav will attempt to make cars smarter without giving up control. In addition to transferring directions from phone to car, the app updates data stored in the car, like maps, saved addresses, gas prices, store names and other information. In the past, some of that data required a software update from the manufacturer, but now can be done over Bluetooth.

With this new partnership, Toyota will control the look and feel of its software in an attempt to communicate better with drivers’ smartphones.

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