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  • The iPad's role in your car?



    At first glance, the idea of having a 7.5" x 9.5" iPad in or around my dash doesn't sound realistic or desirable at all. The New York Times liked the concept. Navigadget hates it. I hated it, but the more I think about it the more I like it. About a year ago we did a video of how the iphone was the death of the PND and the concept here is similar. The iPad's size and a few other details aren't perfect but many people will find a way to mount these in their car. Why? Love it? Hate it? Let's get the debate rolling on the mp3Car forums. Some key pieces of technology and features contained in the iPad are leapfrogging features currently available in the car:


    A GPS: (Assisted GPS) From the specs, the GPS looks great on the GSM models but it is hard to know until we test it. If it is as good as the iphone we have a winner. AGPS should be an improvement over the location technology in the majority of navigation devices. GPS accuracy and speed to a location fix is dramatically improved by quickly sensing the wifi and cellular towers nearby. This gives the user an approximate location until the GPS can lock you down to within a few feet.

    Connected features built in: Traffic, Real time Map updates, weather, gas prices, streaming entertainment, others.

    Enhanced voice recognition: I have been amazed at the accuracy of voice recognition on the iphone, specifically using built in voice recognition as well as third party applications like Dragon. A great microphone and a decent CPU are two critical elements to good voice recognition. The Ipad has about twice the CPU power of the iphone and most likely one of Apple's high quality microphones.

    Multipurpose device: Apple does a good job explaining the multiple uses outside of the car

    Touch Screen: How many times have you fought with an inferior touch screen on your factory navigation, Car Computer or PND? Why are these touch screens so poor? There are several reasons:
    • Most nav devices use cheap resistive touch screens. Those that use capacitive screens use low quality versions or don't have the software to match the screen type.
    • For after market devices, there is tremendous pressure to keep the total product cost low due to profit margins in the distribution chain.
    • For factory navigation, auto manufacturers are forced to start planning their products years in advance before newer technology is released.
    • Designers are also heavily limited in their materials and technology selection due to the consumer expectation that your in car nav device work for a decade or more in extreme environments with a very low failure rate.
    • Touch screen for car computers are also slightly behind the times due to the lack of market demand.
    • The bottom line is that new cars rolling off the lot have yesterday's technology.
    Larger screen: Since I am hitting the ripe old age of 30, my eyes aren't what they used to be. Even for you young wiper snappers, you should be able to read your device out of peripheral vision. A larger screen will help us stay focused on the road by limiting squinting to get us the data we need.

    Sunlight readability: There is a good chance the iPad will be sunlight readable, and we will find out on April 3rd.

    In Car mounting & Docking: The cables to make an ipad connect to your car radio are readily available. The key to making this feasible is a proper universal docking solution that is driver friendly. I have an e-mail into some docking station vendors to see if anything is on the horizon.

  • #2
    I purchased an iPad with the 3g card to try out both at home and in the car.

    I already have an 8" screen in the car and may be able to replace it with the iPad. I expect it to be at least as readable as my current Xenarc.

    I have also been using the iPhone exclusively in the car for about a year. While my thread on this topic is extensive, here's what I've found out about usability in a nutshell:
    1. The screen is too small
    2. The interface is unsuitable and downright dangerous to operate while driving

    The iPad should change a couple of things in this realm by providing a larger screen and an opportunity for a front end of some type that is easy to use in the car.

    The good things are that this is a small computer in a small package with a battery. Like a laptop, it should be easy to mount/dismount which will important for me since I don't own a laptop and want the iPad mainly for couch-browsing. Many of the apps that are available are inexpensive and all quick and easy expansion of its capabilities. I would expect this to continue.

    Most arguments against an iPhone as a PC replacement in my other thread focused on screen size, limited storage, and difficulty of expansion. The iPad fixes the screen size issue but it is unclear whether the expansion issue will continue or not. I consider the storage issue moot if you have a network connection.

    BTW - with a thread title like this, prepare for haters.
    Originally posted by ghettocruzer
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
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    • #3
      I really don't like the idea of the iPad in my vehicle. It would be cool I suppose for the 24-48 hours it would last until some apple crazed moron smashes my window and snatches it. Call me OCD, but I'm just not a fan of things hanging off my window/dashboard and wires strewn about my interior.

      As for the touchscreen argument, I find the current offerings of touch screen technology exceeding my expectations. Granted, I design my own front end suited to my needs but I've never had a problem with them or using one while driving.

      As for the navigation argument, I find my iPhone is what I would consider poor-average for GPS locating, routing and ease of use. In stock form it won't even render maps without a dedicated internet data connection. I rarely ever use it to navigate because I just end up frustrated with how crappy it is. Hopefully the GPS will be more evolved in the iPad because I find my current dedicated GPS hardware + PC platform to be much better suited for automotive use than anything available from Apple.

      Anyway, just my 2 cents - it will be interesting to see what people do with this product.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Bugbyte View Post
        BTW - with a thread title like this, prepare for haters.
        and here we come

        i am not convinced that the ipad is good for the car (yet)--while the physical screen size is a huge improvement over the iphone, if apple decides to keep the same teeny iphone-sized icons, i will side that it is a poor choice-- because it will be tough to select things, and the screen size will only be benificial only after you launch a app.

        also, for me, it is the requirement of a data plan to get gps to work-- my carpc, or even my standalone gps has no monthly charges(technically, i can update the maps, but it is a volantary charge...), and as such, i don't think that it is fair to market it only as a $600-and-some-change option, the data plan charges must also be taken into account(another $50/mo. right?).

        i also don't see suction-cup-type windshield mounting solutions as a viable idea for the ipad--unless you have a HUGE windshield... about the best mounting solutions is like what the member(don't remembe the name..) is doing by making a area in the dash to dock it in...
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        • #5
          I think everyone knows my position on the iMaxiPad. I do see some benefits to it though. If dogs are chasing your car you can use it as a frisbee to either kill the dogs or use it to distract them. Another good reason is to use it to escape robberies in day time. Simply take the iPad out, aim towards sun and reflect the sun into the robbers eyes. This should give you enough time to escape. It can also be use in case your car falls into the ocean, simply get on the iPad and it makes a great boggy board to get you safely to shore.

          Other then those reason I think the iPad is the worse underpowered device in the world. Only thing it has going for it the app store, other then that its an antiquated slow device with a big shinny apple on it. Your paying more for the apple then the actual device.

          PS: You know us haters always have to throw in our exceptional advice.
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          • #6
            Well once you introduce the world of jailbreaking this device, the possibilities are limitless. I know that i could easily tether it to my iPhone and thus use my existing internet. Plus with a little planning ahead you can use http://itunes.apple.com/app/omaps-of...318954474?mt=8 to download maps ahead of time.

            And just like a GPS you don't leave this sitting out for the world to take. You put it away, hide it, take it with you.

            And if it is jailbreakable, be sure the icons will get bigger, multitasking comes back, and all those other things that we wanted.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ZX1Cruizer View Post
              I think everyone knows my position on the iMaxiPad. I do see some benefits to it though. If dogs are chasing your car you can use it as a frisbee to either kill the dogs or use it to distract them. Another good reason is to use it to escape robberies in day time. Simply take the iPad out, aim towards sun and reflect the sun into the robbers eyes. This should give you enough time to escape. It can also be use in case your car falls into the ocean, simply get on the iPad and it makes a great boggy board to get you safely to shore.
              Haha. +1 for the humor.

              A GPS: (Assisted GPS) From the specs, the GPS looks great on the GSM models but it is hard to know until we test it. If it is as good as the iphone we have a winner. AGPS should be an improvement over the location technology in the majority of navigation devices. GPS accuracy and speed to a location fix is dramatically improved by quickly sensing the wifi and cellular towers nearby. This gives the user an approximate location until the GPS can lock you down to within a few feet.
              It should be noted that AGPS uses cell AP information or otherwise to "seed" the gps receiver with general location data in order to get a faster fix in areas where the radio waves are bouncing off of buildings and stuff. After it "assists" the actual GPS receiver to get a faster fix, the normal GPS should take over. This is accurate to the above statement except in the case where apps can get the "assisted fix" before the GPS can get a "real" fix which falls under the hybrid-positioning definition. Most AGPS systems that I've seen don't give anyone a "pretend" fix until you have a "real" fix.

              It should also be noted that if you are using a decent receiver (ie a ublox-based or even some surf III's (bu-353 anyone?)) you probably get a fix just as fast as if it were assisted. There may be some hardware difference in cell phones that causes it to take ages to get a fix. Without a network connection, my n900 can take 3-4mins to get a fix. With Assisted on, it'll take about 10 seconds. My bu353 takes about 10 seconds as well. However, i have no idea if it takes longer in areas where I'm surrounded by huge buildings. In which case, AGPS is a must.

              As for using the ipad in the car... The hardware should be just fine other than the "where do I put this" problem. The biggest issue I see is the same with dropping Android in the car: the UI is probably going to be more attention requiring than it otherwise should be for this environment. The lack of multi-tasking would be a slight annoyance as well, but probably not too bad.
              Former author of LinuxICE, nghost, nobdy.
              Current author of Automotive Message Broker (AMB).
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              • #8
                My 3G iPhone is crawling to a stop, and if you jailbreak it, it will be even slower. I tried it, way slow.



                So if the discussion is how the iPad will fare among mp3car.com and other enthusiast Apple/iPad forums, then I'd say yes, the iPad MAY be very interesting. Let's talk about the applications now.



                Now if the discussion is about the iPad vs Archos vs Garmin GPSs, etc., that is, if the NY Times is correct in its predictions, than the iPad must do its job in the car WITHOUT jailbreaking.



                Now suppose we don't need to jailbreak, or if jailbreaking is easy. What applications could we expect to use on it? Most of what I've seen are the same iPhone apps, only enlarged to fit the screen. Are we going to see interesting stuff developed exclusively for this platform? I suppose they will sell 1000 new iPhones for each new iPad, so I'm afraid many cool apps will simply not even have an exclusive iPad version I'm afraid. I think I'm wrong on that.



                Is it possible to port riderunner, or a version of it to run on the iPhone? Could we see an app such as gas prices on it? I would like to see some of our talented programmers to try their hands on the iPhone/iPad sdk and tells us if they see any future on it. Without a dedicated car front end, things can be real difficult to use while driving.

                Edit:
                Originally posted by ZX1Cruizer View Post
                If dogs are chasing your car you can use it as
                a frisbee to either kill the dogs or use it to distract them.


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                • #9
                  So the coolest application would be one that doesn't exist yet. Someone makes a front end for the iPad. The SDK allows you to access your music in the app, access your videos in the app, and connect to other hardware. SO, theoretically someone could build a font end for iphone that understands say a boomzbox hd radio that plugs into the iphone.

                  In a car pc you usually run a front end, the same will go for the iPad. You won't be switching in and out of apps, you will be running just one.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by optikalefx View Post
                    So the coolest application would be one that doesn't exist yet. Someone makes a front end for the iPad. The SDK allows you to access your music in the app, access your videos in the app, and connect to other hardware. SO, theoretically someone could build a font end for iphone that understands say a boomzbox hd radio that plugs into the iphone.

                    In a car pc you usually run a front end, the same will go for the iPad. You won't be switching in and out of apps, you will be running just one.
                    RR or any other known FE will not be easily ported to the iPad/iPhone. OSX FE's may work if they are based on the cocao framework. But IIRC, most of them use itunes which is a no-no on the ipad, thus not cleanly portable.

                    There's also the problem of, say I create a FE for the ipad derived from existing designs. I end up with a monolithic FE like RR or OpenMobile which is in itself an OS. Will the Apple app store approve my app if it basically replaces the iPad OS? Something is telling me they will reject it. So that means I *have* to jailbreak it or just live with the existing OS and apps.

                    I hate to say it, but even an Android tablet seems like it'd be less stressful and more useful than an iPad for the car.

                    Then there is MeeGo which also has potential on tablets in and out of the car. Because it's a more standard Linux, you can drop in RevFE, nGhost or even OpenMobile (if they fix their Linux support).
                    Former author of LinuxICE, nghost, nobdy.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tripzero View Post

                      It should also be noted that if you are using a decent receiver (ie a ublox-based or even some surf III's (bu-353 anyone?)) you probably get a fix just as fast as if it were assisted. There may be some hardware difference in cell phones that causes it to take ages to get a fix. Without a network connection, my n900 can take 3-4mins to get a fix. With Assisted on, it'll take about 10 seconds. My bu353 takes about 10 seconds as well. However, i have no idea if it takes longer in areas where I'm surrounded by huge buildings. In which case, AGPS is a must.

                      As for using the ipad in the car... The hardware should be just fine other than the "where do I put this" problem. The biggest issue I see is the same with dropping Android in the car: the UI is probably going to be more attention requiring than it otherwise should be for this environment. The lack of multi-tasking would be a slight annoyance as well, but probably not too bad.
                      I think you are experiencing the fast fix time due to a few things, 1. you have the antenna on the outside of the vehicle. 2. I believe there is a small electrical charge which holds the ephemeris data on the bu-353. The cold start time on this device is speced at 45 seconds. the iphone gives me a fast cellular fix before a gps fix is possible or if I am in a building.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Fiberoptic View Post
                        the iphone gives me a fast cellular fix before a gps fix is possible or if I am in a building.
                        yes and in a parking garage aGPS will enable a fix that a standalone GPS could never achieve (too many layers of concrete). However, cellular location is really only accurate to 1/4mile which makes the technology useless until a true GPS lock is obtained.

                        My opinion-> aGPS = excellent feature for a phone which is frequently indoors....useless in a car.

                        iPhone as a nav device just makes me laugh so ill save the commentary. openMobile could be ported to the ipad in about a week of development with monotouch-but I would never do it.
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                        • #13
                          Why is this even a debate,
                          How many of us use tablets for carpc's, Very few, now why is this any different other than the fact your are tied to iphone apps for software?
                          Here is a better question, rather two questions to solve one problem...
                          Would you use a tablet PC in your carpc install?
                          If so would you use an ipad?
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by justchat_1 View Post
                            iPhone as a nav device just makes me laugh so ill save the commentary. openMobile could be ported to the ipad in about a week of development with monotouch-but I would never do it.
                            right. and monotouch would probably break your compatibility with windows wouldn't it? Monotouch actually looks pretty cool.
                            Former author of LinuxICE, nghost, nobdy.
                            Current author of Automotive Message Broker (AMB).
                            Works on Tizen IVI. Does not represent anyone or anything but himself.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by tripzero View Post
                              right. and monotouch would probably break your compatibility with windows wouldn't it? Monotouch actually looks pretty cool.
                              Monotouch is really just a native compiler for c#. It maps the c# native functions to apple native functions and does a full static compilation.
                              openMobile is already designed to split out and map platform specific functions...so its really no different then adding linux or osx support was.
                              The big problem is that all the plugins would need to be compiled with monotouch, which at $400 is not a cheap task.
                              openMobile - An open source C# Front End (why choose openMobile?)
                              - Always Recruiting Developers -
                              Like what you see? Donations are always welcome

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