I can’t pair my phone to my car. I can’t sync my contacts list to my car. I can’t get my car navigation system to speak directions. I can’t receive calls on my Bluetooth in my car. I can’t get text messages on my car infotainment system. I can’t get my iPod to choose a playlist in my car. Do I buy a new car or do I buy a new phone? Will anybody help me fix this? These are just a few of the car connectivity problems and questions that thousands of consumers, including me, are posting to Internet blogs, help desks, and forums.
I bought a 2012 Ford Fusion with MyFordSync developed by Microsoft. My iPhone 4 synced perfectly and I had hands-free phone capabilities that are required by law. Then, I got a Samsung Galaxy S5 for Christmas and had to return it because I could not get it synced properly to the car. After two days of troubleshooting the Samsung sync problems, I went back and paired my iPhone to the Ford again. A friend of mine recently downloaded the new 2014 navigation software for his Acura and his Droid and iPod no longer worked. In fact, efforts by the dealer to sync those mobile devices to the car system and to Bluetooth crashed his entire navigation system. The dealer, after three trips, could not fix it.
Car Connectivity Companies Give Consumers the Runaround
The consumer nightmare does not end with mobile devices not syncing with car connectivity systems. The process of trying to get everything working requires talking to the car manufacturer, the car dealer, the developer of the sync system, the phone provider, the Bluetooth customer service, and perhaps the third party sync app customer service. Each player in the car connectivity market blames another company for the products not working.
The Acura dealer told my friend that it was not their problem because they didn’t develop the navigation system update. The smartphone service center checked the phone settings and said it was an Acura problem. The Acura corporate customer service told my friend that it is not their problem – the dealer just didn’t know what they were doing. The phone is on the auto manufacturer’s list of phones that will sync with the 2014 navigation system update. Next, my friend will have to consult with Alpine, the software company that codeveloped the Acura navigation system.
While this scenario is painfully reminiscent of the process for getting all the home and remote Wi-Fi devices working by spending endless hours talking with the cable company, phone company, router company, modem company, laptop operating system company, printer company, blue-ray company, streaming company, television manufacturer, and smartphone service provider, there is one major difference: laws require hands-free devices for using your phone in your car. So what is a consumer to do?
Safety Issues and Lawsuits Will Continue if Car Connectivity Problems Are Not Fixed
Both my friend and I researched how to fix the car connectivity problems and discovered that countless other consumers face the same nightmare regardless of what phone or what car system they own. In fact, Ford has had so many problems with the MyFordSync product that it is now considering using a new system from Blackberry. In addition, Ford was sued by the Center for Defensive Driving because of the frequent problems with the MyFord Touch system that created driver safety concerns when the in-car infotainment system crashed or malfunctioned.
The Future of Car Connectivity Impacts New Car Design and Raises New Safety Issues for Consumers
In the past, I bought a new car based on reliability, safety performance, resale value, and price. For the most part, I have been brand loyal to Toyota and Ford. The problems with car connectivity will impact brand loyalty and product sales for both auto makers and phone makers if these companies do not work toward better compatibility standards. For example, I have not upgraded my iPhone 4 to a 5s because the iPhone 4 works great with MyFordSync. I have read about syncing problems with the iPhone 5 and MyFordSync. It is not worth my trouble to change phones and not have hands-free calling in my car.
Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Transportation has issued guidelines to automakers to minimize in-vehicle distractions which will impact future car connectivity firmware and in-vehicle car design. Until the lawmakers, automakers, infotainment system programmers, and smartphone companies get in sync with each other, I will not spend more money on their products. If I buy a $35,000 car and cannot get the infotainment systems to work, I will join the consumer class action lawsuits that will surely erupt. If drivers cannot operate the car’s connectivity systems without getting into an accident, then lawmakers will end the car connectivity consumer obsession.
The final question is not will anybody fix this, but WHO will fix this?