Entertainment with drive

iPod control… sort of

Don’t be fooled when a cheaper audio system boasts of iPod control. Many offer little more than a front-mounted analog audio input, leaving you to control the iPod via its usual buttons.

Awkward! True iPod control connects to your player via Apple’s proprietary connector, whereupon you shove the iPod in the glove box and control it entirely via the head-unit’s buttons. Double-DIN touchscreen units even replicate the iPod’s signature scroll-wheel.

Or you can voice-tag your favourite albums and tracks. That’s real iPod control.

What about Facebook?

The next step, according to industry insiders, is internet connectivity via the 3G network. You can browse the web on your mobile after all, so integrating that functionality into a car entertainment system is just a matter of getting the interface right.

Of course you won’t be using it to read regular web pages, but there’s lots of internet connectivity that would work brilliantly in the car. A Facebook app could update your GPS with the locations of friends converging on a meeting place. You can get reviews of restaurants as you scroll through lists looking for Thai in your area. And traffic reports and updates can be much more detailed and localised delivered via the net instead of the radio-based systems we use today.

So the present and future of incar entertainment is all about maximising functionality. Yes, you can still get music-dedicated systems, but why limit yourself, when you can have pretty much everything?