Samsung just wrapped up its keynote event at the IFA trade show here in Berlin where it spent most of its presentation time discussing the trend of software powering everything in our lives, called Internet of Things. One peculiar new service in particular was an in-car dashboard app that works with the company’s Galaxy line of Android smartphones.
Simply called Car Mode for Galaxy, the mode presents access to only the functions you might need in a car, like navigation and music playback, and gives them large, brightly colored buttons easy to see without having to turn attention away from the road. What’s seen on the smartphone screen is beamed to the car using MirrorLink, so the app can be interacted with through dashboard or steering wheel controls and Samsung’s S-Voice personal assistant.
If that sounds familiar, that’s because Google has Android Auto, its own in-car dashboard product built on the Android platform. They both appear to be tackling the same ideas of making our in-car software better and smarter, but there are positives and negatives to each.
Android Auto, for example, requires access to various low-level sensors in the car to gather information like wheel speed (to see how fast you’re going, make arrival estimates, etc), and control what plays through the speakers. Car manufacturers cannot just grant anyone access to integral sensors, however, and so they have to sign on before Android Auto can be easily installed in their vehicles. That’s if a car in question has a modern controls at all. Car Mode for Galaxy works with Samsung’s Galaxy lineup in any car supporting the popular MirrorLink standard, or as a standalone app in cars without MirrorLink. The downside is that it’s less feature-rich than Android Auto, and there’s no open app store.
Samsung says it will be available across a range of their devices starting this Friday, and it has partnered with Volkswagen to make a dedicated Car Mode app for its cars, called Car-Net E-Remote (awful name, I know). This app will have access to more sensors than the standard app so it can do extra things like use the car’s GPS to tell you exactly where you parked it and, if it’s an electric vehicle, tell you whether or not it’s charging.