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Thread: Frontend Theories (Not a new project)

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate zapwizard's Avatar
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    Frontend Theories (Not a new project)

    My goal here is to get an idea of what the community really needs from a working Mac mini frontend.

    Being a Mac Mini user as other on this board, there is a huge problem of unfinished front ends, there have been dozens of requests for completion of any one of them.
    It seems like many of the projects die under bloat from trying to integrate lots of "cool features" or try to do everything from the start.
    Just because you "can" doesn't necessarily mean you should.

    I like many others just end up running Front Row, why? because it actually plays the music and integrates with iTunes.

    Compare FrontRow to many of the HTPC frontends out there.
    It does only four things.. Play Music, Play Movies, Play DVDs and Display Photos.

    In the car I really need Music, Video, Photos and GPS.
    All other features are extras that I won't use 90% of the time.

    Music can be FM radio, iTunes, XM, Streaming, Podcasts, etc...
    Video can be DVD's, Video files, IPTV, Tuner, etc...
    GPS can be real-time, navigation, regional search
    While you won't be viewing photos on the road, your passengers probably will.
    All other functions could be done with optional add-ons or plug-ins.

    I am not trying to start a whole new project, but trying to inspire some of the others out there to re-think how they are approaching Frontend software.
    Start small, and basic, and expand from there.

    Comments?

  2. #2
    CarFrontEnd Creator iamgnat's Avatar
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    I agree with your beliefs on why so many have ended up failing. I also think there is a problem with organization and time too.

    For my part, I keep trying to do something, but after I get home from writing code all day, the last thing I get inspired to do is look at an IDE

    I think Jirka has the right basic idea with TatraApp and QCar. A basic shell that supports plug-ins and then offer some basic plug-ins to get it started.

    For me, the only thing I really care about is Music. A good simple Music player is all I need/want (so early versions of AMP still works fine for me, but i'd like something cleaner (no offense Bobby) with less stuff that I don't need/want running around).

    But I would like it to be extensible so that if I ever get off my *** and get a 2140 (now that we know the protocol) or do some of the projects I keep talking about, I can integrate them into the App without a lot of hacking or code rewriting.

    -dave
    My pathetic worklog.
    CarFrontEnd (now it's own sub-forum!!!!)

  3. #3
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    A core feature for me is also audio (not necessarily music). I listen to podcasts and talk radio. So AM radio should be on the list. Also a good music player that handles long audio files with bookmarks - so when I come back to listen to an hour long podcast two days later I can pick up right where I left off.

  4. #4
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    Bugbyte's Avatar
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    Time and effort were the issue with our unfinished FE (Harmony). It actually worked okay but need to be rewritten in Cocoa. After investing in learning Applescript, the hill was too tall to climb for the time being.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    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.
    Want to:
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  5. #5
    QCar Creator Jirka Jirout's Avatar
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    For me, the media playback is important, but not really critical. I just need a basic playback function without album artwork, fancy browse modes etc. Except for the music player, the two modules I use most are the voice memo recorder and the messaging/mail reader. And of course the navigation, but that is still in testing, so it does not really count.

    As most of you know, I am very much against using touchscreens for in-car applications and prefer various rotary controllers (SpaceNavigator and NuLOOQ being my favorite ones) or original steering wheel buttons (connected using Phidgets board).

    I also believe the front-end should provide basic inormation about the vehicle. Things like tracking fuel consmption, service intervals etc. Some of those can seem duplicates to function of standard onboard computers, but a car-Mac can bring them to a higher level (i.e. sending you an e-mail with notifications of upcoming service checks, voice output and so on).

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jirka Jirout View Post
    For me, the media playback is important, but not really critical. I just need a basic playback function without album artwork, fancy browse modes etc. Except for the music player, the two modules I use most are the voice memo recorder and the messaging/mail reader. And of course the navigation, but that is still in testing, so it does not really count.

    As most of you know, I am very much against using touchscreens for in-car applications and prefer various rotary controllers (SpaceNavigator and NuLOOQ being my favorite ones) or original steering wheel buttons (connected using Phidgets board).

    I also believe the front-end should provide basic inormation about the vehicle. Things like tracking fuel consmption, service intervals etc. Some of those can seem duplicates to function of standard onboard computers, but a car-Mac can bring them to a higher level (i.e. sending you an e-mail with notifications of upcoming service checks, voice output and so on).
    Good ones. I can second using the rotary controller as a navigation device. I've beta tested QCar and that is a really nice feature.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    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.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  7. #7
    Newbie EnglandGreen's Avatar
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    I'm a proponent of touchscreens if the interface is geared towards DRIVING. Think BIG buttons and coloured icons.

    1. Music with a very simple interface for shuffle, repeat, prev. track, next track, volume up, volume down, mute, play, pause.
    100% integration with iTunes is mandatory, IMHO. I spent a lot of time organizing my large music collection in iTunes and see no reason to reinvent the wheel. No importing like AMP and others.

    2. GPS. iGuidance for OSX would be my ideal. Again, intuitive, BIG buttons, obvious interface. Remember, I'm driving.

    3. Movies in whatever form (DVD, mov/avi/mpg etc.). Again, simple interface, big buttons, coloured icons. The only reason I want movies while driving at all is I have several live concert DVDs that have outstanding performances and excellent sound quality.

    Anything else is gravy. I can do wardriving with KisMac (no need to integrate) and I do not need to browse the web or check my email while driving.

    Again, while driving, is the critical point.


    Once I am stationary, I can do all of the other things in the standard OSX interface while peering at the tiny fonts, menus and buttons. I do NOT need any of those things while driving.

    Less is more
    EG

  8. #8
    Newbie EnglandGreen's Avatar
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    Something else. I do not need engine management/monitoring and I do not know of anyone that needs this functionality as a major component of a CarPuter.

    Personally, I already have access to this info via my wideband O2 and OBD-II integration, but then this is what I do for a living. This is definitely not a "must have" for most folks.

    It's in the "gravy" category - again, IMHO.
    EG

  9. #9
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    As someone who has been using a mac carputer for over a year now I've come to the conclusion that the problem isn't with the front end development. Yes, we need a good front end and everyone has made good points regarding their needs and desires but AMP has done well as a front end for most of us.

    I think the real problem is functionality. Using a Mac as a way of playing music is sort of a hassle compared to expence/effort/functionality. An iPod and adaptor is cheaper and easier to use. If we step back and look at what are the basic needs/desires, GPS is on almost everyone’s list and for good reason. We only have so much real estate in our dashes and taking that space to play some mp3's isn't a very good use of that real estate. There are some gps options but right now none of them are very good. Why not stop worrying about front ends (for now) and start spending our time letting companies that we need gps software too. Macs are taking bigger and bigger bites of the computer market and we are now getting to a point where it could be very profitable for companies to start porting software for Macs.

    Just my $.02

  10. #10
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    I'd like the ergonomics and platform philosophy of QCar mixed with the looks and simplicity of Amp, plus a sprinkle of PhoneControl and an added dash of GPS functionality.

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