Call yourself a smartphone, then show me how smart you are.
Over the Christmas period I was lucky enough to be loaned a brand new Aston Martin DB9. Hand-finished midnight black interior, 0-60mph in 4.6 seconds and, even though I only managed an average of 47mph in the awful conditions we had, a top whack of 196mph. The car of my dreams and the envy of all those that overtook us on the journey from south London to a family gathering in the idyllic village of Ellastone at the edge of the Peak district. While edging my way past Yaxley through sleet, snow and the ash-coloured grit of the A1, I tinkered with the glut of buttons, switches and dials, assessing how technologically savvy this car was on the inside as well as under the bonnet.
Driving the favoured wagon of a certain Mr J. Bond, I was secretly hoping I might discover the ejector seat or heat-seeking missile knob. Failing that, a way to wirelessly play my Christmas playlist from my iPhone, which was also acting as sat-nav, through the stunning in-car Bang and Olufsen stereo system. No such luck. I found an iPod connector, but that was located in the centre console and would mean positioning my iPhone out of sight and next to the reproachable cup of ‘coffee’ I picked up the service station at Peterborough.
After fifteen minutes of menu cycling and phone pairing, I gave up. Neither phone nor car was playing ball. As the traffic jammed (again) and I-spy became as repetitive as a politician’s failed promise, I thought about smartphones and how they should be working smarter for us.
I tinkered with the glut of buttons, switches and dials, assessing how technologically savvy this car was on the inside as well as under the bonnet.
Last year I spoke to Steve Alder, general manager of devices at 02 who posed a similar statement; “call yourself a smartphone, then show me how smart you are”. Phones should be feeding information to more than us. Most of them know what you’re doing from day to day, so why can’t they pre-warn your car and automatically plot your sat-nav destination for your 10.30am meeting? Why can’t they read out incoming emails through a car’s stereo and allow you to dictate messages back? Why can’t they access media stored on a home network and play audio and video on your car’s AV system? It’s 2011, we should have hoverboards and anti-gravity chambers by now, let alone a phone that can sync with a car. Sheesh.
When they arrive in the UK – hopefully by the end of 2011 – 4G mobile phone networks will help with some of these wants, but in the meantime, I’m off to Gaydon to have a word with some engineers.