Study finds using Android Auto, Apple CarPlay can impair driving more than alcohol and cannabis – Blog – 10 minute

Why it matters: Car infotainment software such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is incredibly popular among drivers, but a new study suggests that interacting with vehicle infotainment systems can impair reaction times more than alcohol and cannabis.
A simulator study undertaken by TRL on behalf of IAM Roadsmart—the UK’s largest independent road safety charity—the FIA, and the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund, showed how much drivers’ reaction times slowed based on different scenarios.
It typically takes an undistracted driver one second to react to something. That increases by 12 percent when they’re at the drink-drive limit, 21 percent if they’ve been using cannabis, and 35 percent if they’re texting. When using Android Auto (touch) it goes up to 53 percent, and Apple CarPlay is even higher—57 percent.

The study found that drivers interacting with their infotainment touch screens increase their vehicle’s stopping distance by between four and five car lengths. They also take their eyes off the road for up to 16 seconds while driving. “Participants underestimated by as much as 5 seconds the time they thought they spent looking away from the road when engaging with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay via touch control,” wrote IAM Roadsmart.
Additionally, drivers interacting with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay struggled to keep their vehicle’s position in a lane, swerving out of place by up to 21 inches. They also failed to maintain a constant speed and distance from the vehicle in front.
While using voice commands did improve reaction times compared with touching infotainment screens, this still increased the non-distracted time by 36 percent.
IAM Roadsmart is calling for further testing and the introduction of new industry standards for infotainment systems to help minimize driver distraction. It advises owners to use them in the safest possible way, including setting everything up before starting a journey.
Image credit: Hadrian via Shutterstock

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Netflix will let you disable those annoying auto previews – Blog – 10 minute

Finally: Netflix is finally addressing those long-running, annoying auto-playing previews that fire up when you start the app and traverse its library. They’ve been the bane of viewers for around five years but now, you’ll be able to turn them off.
As Netflix outlines in a recent Twitter post, you can sign in to Netflix from a web browser and select Manage Profiles from the menu. Then select the profile you’d like to update. From there, simply check or uncheck the option to Autoplay previews while browsing on all devices.

Some people find this feature helpful. Others not so much.
We’ve heard the feedback loud and clear — members can now control whether or not they see autoplay previews on Netflix. Here’s how: https://t.co/6V2TjEW6HD https://t.co/zbz4E8fVab
— Netflix US (@netflix) February 6, 2020

Changes made are specific to that profile and will take affect across all devices.
Netflix said there might be a slight delay before the changes take effect. In that instance, you can try switching to another profile then returning to the original profile to reload it with the updated settings.
Users now also have the option of deciding whether or not they want to autoplay the next episode in a series. Like before, simply sign in to Netflix on the web, select Manage Profiles from the menu, select the profile you want to manipulate and check or uncheck the option.
Netflix notes that some people find the preview feature helpful while others, not so much. “We’ve heard the feedback loud and clear,” Netflix said.

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Grand Theft Auto mastermind Dan Houser leaves Rockstar Games | Games – Blog – 10 minute

Dan Houser, a co-founder of Rockstar Games, is leaving his post in March, according to the developer’s parent company Take-Two Interactive. Houser was lead writer on the multimillion-selling Grand Theft Auto series, as well as other Rockstar hits including the acclaimed western adventure Red Dead Redemption.
In a statement to investors on Tuesday, Take-Two stated that Houser, who was creative vice president at the studio, would leave Rockstar on 11 March after taking an “extended break”, which began in spring last year. Houser’s brother Sam, with whom he co-founded Rockstar Games in 1998, will stay on as company president.
Houser started writing on the groundbreaking Grand Theft Auto series while working for BMG Interactive, which published the first two GTA titles. When BMG was acquired by Take-Two, the Houser brothers formed Rockstar Games to continue the series, overseeing the landmark Grand Theft Auto 3, which drastically improved the games’ visuals and scope. For the next 20 years, Dan Houser was lead creative on the series, working closely with a small narrative team, and also writing for Max Payne and Red Dead Redemption.
In 2018, Houser said that finishing Red Dead Redemption 2 had required exhausting 100-hour working weeks. The revelation caused controversy in the games industry where “crunch culture” – the expectation that staff will work long hours for many months of game development in order to meet deadlines – has become a hot topic. Rockstar later clarified the comments by saying these hours were undertaken by the core writing team and not the whole studio.
Dan Houser’s exit from the Grand Theft Auto team follows the 2016 departure of former lead designer Les Benzies, previously president of the Rockstar North studio in Edinburgh, and comes at a time when rumours of a possible sixth title have been growing. The series is the most financially successful in video games history, generating an estimated $6bn (£4.6bn) since its inception.

Working alongside Rupert Humphries (son of comedian Barry Humphries), Dan Houser has overseen the narrative design of the Grand Theft Auto titles, drawing influences from cult movies and the street culture of New York and Los Angeles, as well as satirising modern urban life. “For us, it starts with the characters,” he told the Guardian in 2012. “The story is always driven by the characters – it’s always got to feel like someone you want to be propelled through the game world with. Then we’ll find a cool, interesting and amusing cast to juxtapose them with, and make sure we’ve got a good range of types. If the process feels organic to us then we’re heading in the right direction.”
No reason has been given for Houser’s departure. Take-Two is filing its third-quarter financial results on Thursday, accompanying the announcement with a conference call to investors and press where the decision is likely to be scrutinised.

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Renault CMO Bastien Schupp switches loyalties to DS Auto- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Former Renault CMO Bastien Schupp has confirmed his departure from the French vehicle manufacturer to head up marketing and communications at DS Automobiles.
Schupp began his new role on 1 January joining a long line of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance staff to make the move, which coincides with the promotion of Arnaud Ribault to head of sales and marketing for the PSA Group in Latin America.
Schupp began his auto marketing career in 1996 as a marketing consultant for Audi AG, progressing to become head of marketing and communication for Audi France in 2001 before migrating to the alliance in 2005 for his Renault role.
Yves Bonnefont, EVP of DS Automobiles, said: “Bastien Schupp comes to strengthen the management team of DS Automobiles at a time when the brand is entering a new stage of its growth. I thank Arnaud Ribault for his exceptional contribution to the creation of DS Automobiles.”
In a LinkedIn post confirming the switch, Schupp wrote: “New adventure for the years to come! Very proud to join this dynamic group and a very promising brand!”
Schupp is credited with overhauling Renault’s agency set up during his tenure, a process which saw Omnicom’s OMD and Publicis unite under a single chief operating officer appointed by Renault.

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Sony’s New CarPlay and Android Auto Receiver Has a Giant 9-inch Screen


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Most new vehicles come with Android Auto or CarPlay included, or at least as an option on more expensive trims. However, older vehicles can get a more modern multimedia experience with the help of an aftermarket head unit. Most of these devices have stuck to a tried and true 7-inch form factor, but Sony’s new unit has a larger 9-inch screen. Plus, it’ll be compatible with more cards (and wallets). 

CarPlay and Android Auto have gained popularity because most people are using one of those two operating systems, and everyone carries around their personal data on smartphones. These in-car systems pull data directly from the phone, so all your music, podcasts, and contacts are automatically available. The interfaces, while intentionally simplified for cars, are dramatically better than what carmakers offer. If you don’t even have a touchscreen in your car, Sony’s new XAV-AX8000 receiver could give you some bragging rights over friends with newer rides. 

The XAV-AX8000 has a sizeable 8.95-inch touchscreen, which is larger than many new vehicles that ship with 7-inch displays. However, that display is only WVGA resolution (480 x 800). That’s probably much lower than your phone, but you won’t have your nose right up against the dashboard. 

To ensure it’s compatible with as many vehicles as possible, Sony designed the XAV-AX8000 to use a single DIN slot — it’s on an adjustable arm that holds it away from the slot. So, even vehicles that have narrower entertainment decks (think: a compact CD player) can cram this gigantic screen into the dash. 

The single DIN frame should fit in most vehicles that don’t already have a large embedded touchscreen.

Sony was able to make this head unit so compact be removing unnecessary components like the CD player and front-facing inputs. The hardware includes a 4-channel amplifier at 55 watts per channel and vehicle reverse cameras. If you don’t want to plug in your phone for media, the system also has Bluetooth streaming with SBC and AAC codecs. 

Sony plans to launch the XAV-AX8000 in December for $600, which sounds like a lot. However, that’s comparatively cheap in the world of high-end automotive head units. Many of the latest receivers from Alpine, Pioneer, and others are well over $1,000. Keep in mind, professional installation of these systems will add at least a few hundred extra to the price.

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Auto supplier Continental shifts gears — and its capital — to an electric future – gpgmail


Continental AG, a global auto-parts supplier, will no longer invest in parts used in internal combustion engines, the latest sign that the automotive industry is being forced to respond to increasingly strict emissions laws.

Instead, the company said it will put more focus and capital on the electric powertrain, which it believes is the “future of mobility.”

“Our customers are increasingly and consistently turning to the electrification of combustion engines through hybrid drives as well as to pure battery-powered vehicles,” said Andreas Wolf, head of Continental’s Powertrain division, which in the future will operate under the name Vitesco Technologies with Wolf as CEO.

This shift toward electrification is being driven by tighter regulations around the world. Cities are clamping down on the use of diesel- and gas-powered cars, trucks and SUVs in urban centers and states like California are tightening rules to meet air quality and emissions targets to combat climate change. China has placed restrictions on gas-powered vehicles and provides incentives to electric ones. France wants to end the sale of fossil fuel-powered cars by 2040.

And automakers are following. Volvo, VW and others have announced plans over the past two years to increase sales of electric vehicles and move toward more electrification throughout their portfolios of existing vehicles. Electrification can mean hybrid, plug-in or all-electric vehicles.

There has been plenty of speculation and attempts to predict exactly when — not so much if — a tectonic shift to electric powertrains would occur. Suppliers have grappled with the “when” part. Putting too much capital too soon toward developing automotive parts can saddle a supplier with inventory and mounting costs.

What’s happening at Continental is starting to play out within the rest of the industry. If companies like Continental want to survive and keep up with the demands of automakers, they have to act. But not wildly. Development costs for powertrains are, after all, no small matter.

Continental is making specific choices on what exactly it pursues. The company, for instance, will not consider producing solid-state battery cells in the future. Apparently the company was open to making an investment in battery cell production. But now the company believes the market no longer offers any attractive economic prospects for battery cell production for Continental, Wolf said.

What Continental is going to do is reduce investment in its hydraulic components business, which includes parts like injectors and pumps for gasoline and diesel engines.

“Investments in research and development and in production capacity for innovations are becoming less profitable,” says Wolf, explaining the reasoning behind this decision.

Continental will fulfill existing orders. New orders will “play an increasingly marginal role.”

This shift within Continental will likely extend over a number of years, as combustion engines essentially serve as the basic drivers for hybrid solutions, Wolf said. The company will also review its business in components for exhaust-gas after treatment and fuel delivery.

All of this translates into big changes within the company, including the technologies it decides to invest in, jobs and even locations of some of its operations. Continental said it will also consider partnerships.


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Google’s new version of Android Auto focuses on Assistant – gpgmail


Google is starting to roll out an updated version of its in-car platform Android Auto that aims to make it easier and safer for drivers to use.

The version, which was first revealed during Google I/O 2019, has a dark theme, new fonts and color accents, more opportunities to communicate with Google’s virtual assistant and the ability to fit wider display screens that are becoming more common in vehicles.

Android Auto, which launched in 2015, is not an operating system. It’s a secondary interface — or HMI layer — that sits on top of an operating system and brings the look and feel of a smartphone to the vehicle’s central screen. Rival Apple introduced its own in-car platform, Apple CarPlay, that same year.

Automakers, once hesitant to integrate Android Auto or Apple CarPlay into vehicles have come around. Today, Android Auto is available in more than 500 car models from 50 different brands, according to Android Auto product manager Rod Lopez.

Car owners with Android Auto support will start to see the new design over the next few weeks. However, updates will not be made to the standalone version of Android Auto, a smartphone app that gave users access to the platform even if their car wasn’t compatible to Android Auto. Google says it plans to “evolve” the standalone phone app from Android Auto to the Assistant’s new driving mode in the future.

Meanwhile, the in-car version features some important changes, notably more opportunities for drivers to use their voice — and not their hands — to interact with Android Auto. Users will notice the Google Assistant badge on Android Auto, that when tapped will provide information about their calendar, read the weather report or news.

3Android Auto Google Assistant Badge

Other new features include a new app launcher designed to let users access their favorite apps with fewer taps. A button on the bottom left of the screen launches this feature. Once deployed, users will see app icons with the most commonly used ones featured in the top row.

Android Auto has also improved its navigation, which is perhaps the most commonly used feature within the platform. Now, the navigation bar sits at the bottom of the display and allows users to manage multiple apps. This improvement means users won’t miss an exit or street while they’re listening to Spotify .

4Android Auto Media

The navigation feature also pops up as soon as the driver connects with Android Auto. If a route is already queued up on a phone, Android Auto will automatically populate the directions.

This latest version also has a new notification button — located on the bottom right corner — houses recent calls, messages and alerts. Drivers can tap the mic button or say ” “Hey Google” to have the Google Assistant help make calls, send messages and read notifications.

Google has also developed an operating system called Android Automotive OS that’s modeled after its open-source mobile operating system that runs on Linux. Instead of running smartphones and tablets, Google modified it so it could be used in cars. Polestar, Volvo’s standalone performance electric car brand, is going to produce a new vehicle, the Polestar  2, that has an infotainment system powered by Android Automotive OS.


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