Monthly Archives: February 2014

Ford “not married” to Microsoft for next-gen SYNC, but BlackBerry isn’t necessarily in

BARCELONA, Spain — There’s been no shortage of talk and speculation of late surrounding Ford’s relationship with Microsoft. Microsoft has, since the beginning of SYNC, provided the software underpinnings that make the systems work. With millions of SYNC-equipped vehicles on the road, it’s big business, and with rumors of a switch to QNX making the rounds, that’s potentially bad news for Microsoft.

However, Ford is saying not so fast. Here in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress we spoke with Ford Managing Director Prof. Dr. Pin van der Jagt about the situation. He says that Ford is always questioning and evaluating their suppliers, and that re-evaluating the Microsoft deal is just a part of normal business. “SYNC 1 and 2 was done with Microsoft but we are not married with them. For us, it’s a supplier, so every time we keep evaluating is it the right partner.”

That doesn’t mean that Microsoft is out and that BlackBerry’s QNX is in though: “That is a rumor. What we are in the process of, we are spec’ing out our requirements for the next generation: what we want to do, what features we want to add, what functionality. Then you go through a normal supply selection process. Those requirements for the next generation get sent out to everybody, t… [Read more]

    








Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Nissan Juke update for Geneva looks to have lost no flair

Nissan's teaser image for the new Juke suggests the little car has not lost its outlandish styling.

(Credit: Nissan)

Nissan released a teaser image of the 2015 model year update to the Juke today, ahead of the full unveil next week in Geneva. The Juke is one of Nissan’s most technically advanced cars, and employs love-it-or-hate-it styling that makes it a bit cultish.

The Juke originally launched as a 2010 model, so this update puts it on a five-year product cycle.

The image released today uses a lot of graphic obfuscation to hide many of the details. The car is clearly still a four door with a hatchback, retaining its compact SUV style. The wheel arches look slightly enhanced, which would accentuate the Juke’s funky styling.

There is little indication from the image that Nissan has attempted to shave off the more outlandish design cues, such as the slash lights on the front fenders or the bug-eyes next to the grille.

Nissan offered no specifications, but the current engine for the U.S. market, a 1.6-liter four cylinder with direct injection and a turbocharger, is fairly advanced by today’s standards. It does not seem likely Nissan would change that, unless it shaved off some displacement.

Likewise, the continuously variable transmission (CVT), a si… [Read more]

    








Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

CoPilot GPS navigation app wants to improve your commute

(Credit: ALK Technologies)

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, this week, app maker ALK Technologies is showing off its most recent additions to its CoPilot GPS app, a free app with downloadable maps, turn-by-turn navigation, and directions. The company has added two new features that aim to make your commute better.

Related stories:

The first new feature is CommuteMe, which learns your daily commute route as you drive, tracking the streets and freeways you prefer to use. Once it gets a good picture of your daily commute to and from work, it will start to alert you about traffic problems on that route. It can even give you estimated arrival times based on traffic conditions. If your commute changes, that app will adjust the route.

Next, CoPilot GP… [Read more]

    








Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

These smartphones go the extra mile behind the wheel

(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

Pretty much every new car you can buy today has an auxiliary input and standard adoption of Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming growing consistently with each generation. So, with the right mix of apps and a bit of restraint, you can use pretty much any new smartphone to do basic things like listen to music or make a call safely behind the wheel.

However, a handful of phones go above and beyond these basic functions, offering automotive-specific interfaces, advanced voice commands, dashboard app mirroring, and more. We took a look at the most popular smartphones on CNET and picked out, in no particular order, our favorite driver-friendly models and features.


Samsung's S-Voice Drive performs well on the road.

(Credit: Antuan Goodwin/CNET)

Samsung Galaxy S4 I’m a plain vanilla kind of Android enthusiast, so I’m not a huge fan of third-party rejiggerings of the stock Android experience. That said, Samsung’s S Voice voice recognition and the companion S Drive interface are exceptionally well-suited for use in the car. Though not as flexible as Google Now or Siri, S Voice can be set to an always-listening mode where it will res… [Read more]

    








Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Second-guessing Elon Musk’s turning into an expensive lesson

Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, poses with a Tesla during a visit to Amsterdam.

(Credit: Getty Images) Sometime, some day, the skeptics may start believing in the Tesla story. Maybe that’ll be the time to dump the stock.

In the meantime, CEO Elon Musk continues to make his second-guessers learn an expensive lesson.

For months, the financial news channels have put on the air self-styled experts warning that Tesla was house of cards — no Netflix pun inten

Top 10 greatest automobile innovations ever (pictures)

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ded –… [Read more]

    








Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Taking it to the track in 2015 Subaru WRX STI

(Credit: Antuan Goodwin/CNET)

Imagine for a moment that you’re on your favorite driving road, ready for a quick and curvy blast, but instead you find yourself stuck behind some tourist who’s slowing your ride to a crawl, thanks to their unfamiliarity with the road. Imagine the frustration that you’d feel; now imagine that the road is your favorite race track and that both you and the slowpoke ahead are both driving 300-plus horsepower, all-wheel drive, race-bred sport sedans. What a waste of speed! This was my first lap piloting the freshly announced 2015 Subaru WRX STI ’round Madza Raceway Laguna Seca, my frustration increasing exponentially with each turn as I balanced trying not to bully the poor guy with wondering how bad of a slap on the wrist I’d get from our hosts for blowing past him at this no-passing-allowed press exhibition event.

Just when I was ready to tempt the rules, the slow poke prematurely dipped into the pit lane, leaving me with a clear shot at the track’s long front straight and a sudden outlet for the red mist that had been building over the lapping session. Perhaps it was this red mist that caused me to misjudge the braking point for the track’s infamously tricky Turn 2 hairpin, but it was certainly the genius of the 2015 STI’s revised symmetrical all-wheel drive system that saved my bacon in the end.

The STI Based on the newly announced Subaru WRX (and, ultimately, the Impreza sedan)… [Read more]

    








Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

CNET on Cars: The how and why of new BMW 4 Series (CNET On Cars, Episode 35)

The new BMW 4 Series (CNET On Cars, Episode 35)

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In this episode:

  • The BMW 4 Series explained
  • Why small cars can be more dangerous — but less so than you think.
  • Using today’s high tech automatic transmissions.
  • Top 5 ways technology is reducing driving

As always, e-mail me your thoughts, suggestions, and comments.

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Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Unlock full Android app mirroring on your dashboard with this AppRadio hack

With the help of a modified app, we were able to open AppRadio mirroring of the entire Android interface.

(Credit: Antuan Goodwin/CNET)

The Pioneer AppRadio is one of our favorite car stereos thanks to its ability to display and control certain car-centric apps with its 7-inch touchscreen in your dashboard. While the list of supported apps is long, it’s far from all-inclusive. The AppRadio app on your smartphone powers the on-screen interface for the car stereo and acts as the gatekeeper, deciding what apps on your phone can be displayed. But what if you want to use a navigation app that isn’t on the supported list? If you’re an Android user and don’t mind tinkering with your phone’s software, you’re in luck.

AppRadio Unchained is a modified version of the default app that throws that gate wide open and (for better or worse) allows users to access any app on the paired phone via the AppRadio’s touchscreen controls, greatly increasing the usefulness and user-friendliness of this already great hardware.

Beware, here be dragons: The steps described below involve installing modified software on your handset to unlock questionably legal and unsupported operation of the Pioneer AppRadio hardware. Exercise caution before proceeding at your own risk.

Here’s what you’ll… [Read more]

    








Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Road tripping in a Mini JCW Hatch: Lisbon to London in 24 hours

Mini Adventure

In a break from our usual programming, Nick and I went on something of a road trip in the old Mini JCW hatchback. It’s a truly great car — fun, fast and good looking — but is it suitable for a 1,000 mile drive in less than 24 hours? We found out.

[Read more]

    








Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Mercedes-Benz CLA250 includes top tech, but rides rough

When I got into the driver’s seat of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250, I found the luxury feel and quality materials I expected from this vaunted luxury brand, despite this new model sitting at the low end of the line-up. Perched on the dashboard was a 7-inch LCD showing Mercedes-Benz’s highly refined navigation system, and Harmon Kardon speakers around the cabin emitted crisp, distinct sound.

On the road, however, the CLA250 felt less like the Mercedes-Benz models to which I was accustomed. The ride, in particular, lacked the dreamy glide of the new S550, or even the competent comfort of the GLK250.

Mercedes-Benz CLA250 shows compact style (pictures)

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