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Manufacturers making it more difficult to use your phone?

Discussion in 'New A3/S3 (8V Chassis)' started by selar, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. selar
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    selar Member

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    [Apr 7, 2013]
    I took my friend for a country drive in my new A3 today and after going over all the features, he turned to me and commented on how no manufacturer he knew of had yet built in a cradle for a mobile phone, which struck him as odd since everyone these days has one and probably uses it to some extent (bluetooth calls, music) on the move. They don't make popular add-on cradles, so it's not as though they'd be cannibalising sales. Phones come in all shapes and sizes, but holders cater for that. There are a variety of docking ports, but there are a variety of dock adapters (even with the MMI leads).

    So it got me to thinking - is the compartment under the armrest deliberately designed so that you have to plug your phone in as far away as possible from your eye line? Surely the car manufacturers aren't concerned with forcing you to be safe with regards to your mobile phone - they're not nannies. The Audi Phone Box option seems to have been derided on here as a small increase in functionality for an unreasonably hefty price, but I can see that higher-spec gives the impression of higher-quality car.

    So the question is - with smartphones getting better at, well, everything, is this all subtly designed to make people less inclined to use their phones for the one big crossover feature that car manufacturers are still clinging onto as a speciality of their own - SatNav? Make the phone connection point out of eyeline, give people an incentive to really invest in putting their phone into that box, and leave the SatNav available as an after-market activation option when they realise they can't do everything quite so easily any more on their handset?

    Seems like a bit of subconscious-marketing genius, if you ask me.
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  3. Zig
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    Zig Member

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    [Apr 8, 2013]
    Are phone cradles not a thing of the past with Bluetooth, were you do not need to take your phone out of your pocket or handbag, not a much better approach?
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  4. hittchy
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    hittchy Member

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    [Apr 8, 2013]
    I think Audi in paricular have tried and tested this one. I remember having two phone options back in 2005 where you could spec phone prep either on the dash or in the armrest. Many people (including me) wouldn't spec the phone prep on the dash as it just looked so ugly. The armrest was the preferred option. Audi dealers had real trouble selling those cars specced with dash phone prep.

    Then factor in over £100 for a cradle and the majority of people jumped at Bluetooth when it came in.

    I'd much prefer the tighter integration they've achieved to date and it currently does all I want it to do. I'm struggling to think of something on my phone that I'd like to do in the car that I can't. I also quite like the fact that I don't have to clip the phone into anything every time I jump into the car.

    I'd also hazard a guess that the development costs of making the car's systems integrate with so many different phone manufacturers would not pay dividends for them.

    All IMHO of course. :thumbsup:
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  5. selar
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    selar Member

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    [Apr 8, 2013]
    I guess I'm not really thinking of actually integrating the phone with the car on a software level, my thoughts were really about how it might all be to encourage you to spend £500 on activating the Audi satnav because your phone is all sealed away so it's bloody impossible to use the MMI connection, or the Phone Box option, and also look at your phone while you drive. I'm on Android so the native Google maps navigation is excellent and it'd be crazy to spend money on a less versatile version made by a car manufacturer.

    Sorry, maybe I put too much lead-up in my original post and hid my point :D
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  6. Vertigo1
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    Vertigo1 Well-Known Member

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    [Apr 8, 2013]
    Audi used to do the phone prep with a mount for a cradle to be attached to, as hittchy says above. The A3 originally only had the option for this on the dash but it was later added as an option in the armrest.

    The problem is producing all the different cradles required. They originally had some for non-smartphones but then, when smartphones arrived in force, the only one they really catered for was the iPhone - first the 3/3GS then the 4/4GS. The cradle worked well, keeping the phone secure and charged and also hidden away from view so you didn't need to worry too much if you left the car for a short period.

    They've now moved to bluetooth only, presumably as they just couldn't keep up with all the cradles that would be required for the myriad of phones available these days, especially as they're replaced/updated so frequently. I miss the cradle to be honest. I have the phone box option but it's not as neat and the USB socket doesn't have anywhere near the charging power that the cradle did. It charges the phone at the rate a computer's USB socket would, whereas the cradle charged it at the rate a mains adapter would.

    As for being out of your sight - the first cradles, as mentioned above, were dash-mounted for visibility but this was ugly. With the integration offered these days in cars there's really no need to see the phone itself. You can make and receive calls via the car's systems. Ok so you can't use other features of the phone or text etc but then you shouldn't be doing that whilst driving anyway. The only other feature many would presumably like to see their phones for is satnav but then the manufacturers would much rather you bought their nav options anyway.
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  7. selar
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    selar Member

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    [Apr 8, 2013]
    I guess you and I were just typing at the same time since we arrived at the same place. Maybe I should have said "satnav" in the title rather than "phone" :)
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  8. selar
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    selar Member

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    [Apr 8, 2013]
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  9. hittchy
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    hittchy Member

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    [Apr 8, 2013]
    I guess the next logical progression is car-integrated 4G with far better UK coverage, making the car a 4G hotspot. It won't be long before iPads or the like become common place in the dash and rear headrests. No more DVDs for the kids, they can just stream it.

    Thinking about my 'smartphone', probably the feature I use the least now is the actual phone! I only tend to use this in the car via Bluetooth. I think the future will be a more open but integrated in-dash solution, rather than the ability to harness your own device in the car.

    The satnav point is a valid one. In fact, had it not been a free option on my car, I probably wouldn't have paid £500 as I only use it maybe a dozen times a year. For those times, a windscreen or air vent mount will suffice for the amount of use it'd get. I'm happy to make that compromise for a £500 saving.

    I don't think they gave much thought to stopping people using a sat nav. The armrest seems to be a preferred option for most to store phones, iPods and the like so it makes sense. Anyone using the phone on the dash could always stream music via Bluetooth, or just use the excellent SD card feature.

    OEM nav will always be a cash cow for them though.
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