16 Sep
Many choose to use their smartphones when getting behind the wheel, but integrated systems can make the whole process safer.

Are in-vehicle smartphone functions more than a passing fad?

Keeping drivers entertained behind the wheel may not be the highest priority for fleet managers. Ensuring that they get the most from their fuel card purchases, stay safe out on the road and generally have the ability to do the job well will likely be most prominent. 

Some 40 to 50 models will support the smartphone infotainment systems in 12 month's time.

However, that last point can be dictated by how drivers feel behind the wheel. There's nothing worse than boredom on a long journey, so ensuring that drivers are entertained is certainly important. In the past, this may have meant shelling out on expensive, encompassing systems. Today, thanks to the rise of the smartphone, multimedia connectivity is a whole lot easier.

Convenient and intuitive

Two systems that integrate smartphones and in-vehicle entertainment seamlessly are Apple's CarPlay and Android Auto. As the names suggest, they are designed to work with the two biggest mobile operating systems on the market.

This video from CarAdvice shows how Apple's system works in a Hyundai Tucson:

Naturally, they need a Bluetooth enabled vehicle to work efficiently, but the systems offer a relatively frugal solution to retrofitting features such as voice commands. One of the biggest advantages of working out a way for drivers to use one of the two systems is that they can cut down the chance of falling foul of the law.

In fact, this highlights another positive; the potential boost to safety. The NZ Transport Agency found that were 21 fatalities on the country's roads that were a direct result of driver distraction. While integrating smartphones into a vehicles entertainment system will not completely solve this issue, it does remove one of the biggest distractions that the modern driver faces.

More people want and need to use their smartphones behind the wheel, but this can take attention away from the road. Enabling a system that brings in the best of both worlds in this regard will be invaluable. Drivers have access to one of their primary lines of communication, without getting distracted.

A growing market

As touched on, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren't compatible with every vehicle, but many manufacturers are now adapting their models with streamlined in-vehicle entertainment in mind.

"CarPlay and Android Auto are about to really hit the mainstream. We're talking about some 40 to 50 models that'll have it in probably the next 12 months or less, which is maybe about 20 percent of the entire car market," explained Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer, as quoted by the NZ Herald.

Ultimately, fleet managers may not give much thought to the entertainment features their drivers have behind the wheel. However, if they can embrace the shift towards smartphone driven solutions, they'll be able to keep their employees happy for relatively little cost.