Google is really pushing to bring self-driving cars to these United States, which ought to sound relaxing to anyone who’s ever braved a gridlocked commute. But, now that I think about it, Google’s car probably still requires that you hit all kinds of knobs and buttons and punch info into menus, all stuff preventing you from laying back and chilling out like you’re being chauffeured about. But now Apple might have a solution: It’s bringing Siri to cars.
According to Fast Company, Apple and GM have solidified a deal to integrate Siri into a trio of new Chevrolet models. Any iPhone running iOS 6 (GM has yet to say whether iPads will be supported) will link up to a new version of GM’s MyLink infotainment system, and will allow you to do just about everything that Siri on the phone does, including make calls and run iTunes. It will also come with an ‘eyes free’ mode that will run Siri without turning on the iPhone’s screen.
GM will apparently be the first to come to market with Siri integration, but BMW, Jaguar, and Mercedes have all previously announced that they’d be bringing Siri to autos.
Now, does it make sense to speak to your car? Well, first I’ll just note the usual refrain that every year cars increasingly become gadget-filled appliances, and thus the question of whether or not adding new technology to a particular model is less important then when it’s going to happen.
But in this case, it seems that GM et al are playing a bit of catch-up. Ford has heavily featured its Sync voice-activated system for some time now, which seems to have gotten mostly positive reviews, although there are plenty of forum queries from people saying that voice commands don’t work.
And that’s the rub, isn’t it? Getting a computer to recognize all the myriad voices out there is really difficult, and Siri’s buggy launch was one of the first times in recent history that Apple brought something to market that wasn’t perfectly polished. (And, of course, that was followed by Apple Maps.) We’ll see what consumer expectations are after automotive Siri launches, but I wonder if folks will expect more out of an Apple product than they do Ford’s Sync. Just from personal experience, I imagine they would.
Of course, the whole idea is to make using all of your car’s many features as hassle-free as possible. Distracted driving is something really worth worrying about, and it doesn’t help that these days our cars have computers and hundreds of buttons and ridiculously complicated climate control systems and even Wi-Fi. It makes sense, then, to try to eliminate all the menu scrolling and button fiddling, and just make your car do what you want by telling it to.
Yet placing another complicated computer system on top of all the others just makes things even more finicky. So while I’m interested to see how Siri works out, I’ve got another idea: How about we just make cars simpler? I don’t care how cool it looks to have an eight inch monitor in your dashboard, no one should have to scroll through multiple menus to turn on the air conditioner. Let’s not forget that, until Google’s car hits the mainstream, the most complicated thing you should be doing behind the wheel is, you know, drive.
Follow Derek Mead on Twitter: @derektmead.