Home » Mercedes-Benz Won’t Let Apple Take Over The Dashboard

Mercedes-Benz Won’t Let Apple Take Over The Dashboard

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You might not have heard of Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius, but he’s at the helm of one of Germany’s most legendary automakers. He recently sat down for a chat with The Verge’s Nilay Patel on the Decoder podcast, and laid out the company’s plans for the electric future. More than that, though, he committed Mercedes to retaining a firm grip on its own infotainment systems, no matter what the tech giants might have planned.

Cars are now rolling computers on wheels. Virtually every model on the market has some kind of screen slapped in the center of the dash these days. These systems control everything from media to HVAC systems and all kinds of other nitty-gritty settings. In many models, dash clusters have become digital screens, too.

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The problem with infotainment systems is that they’re often frozen in time. Many drivers prefer to rely on their smartphones, or Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as their app suites are updated far more regularly. Apple itself has seen this use case and made its intentions clear. It wants CarPlay to eventually run every screen in a vehicle.

Mercedes Benz Läutet Eine Neue Ära Der Benutzeroberfläche Ein – Mit Menschenähnlichem Virtuellen Assistenten Auf Basis Generativer Ki Mercedes Benz Heralds A New Era For The User Interface With Human Like Virtual Assistant Powered By Generative Ai
Mercedes-Benz is at the forefront of big ol’ screens in cars.

Mercedes-Benz won’t accept that, however, according to Källenius. It’s his firm belief that the manufacturer needs to be involved in infotainment design, given that it’s such an important system that permeates every feature of a modern vehicle. “Our so-called Mercedes-Benz operating system is really the central nervous system in the brain of the whole car,” he says.

He goes on to explain that while tech companies have big dreams, they’re not ready to step up to take responsibility for everything.  “If you want to create a superior customer experience, you need to think about that as a whole, and only the manufacturer can tie all of it together,” he says. “Nobody out there—none of the tech companies—is even aspiring to do that whole thing.”

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Vorreiter Bei Chatgpt Im Auto: Mercedes Benz Hebt Sprachsteuerung Auf Ein Neues Level Mercedes Benz Takes In Car Voice Control To A New Level With Chatgpt
Mercedes-Benz is already experimenting with AI in its infotainment systems.

That’s not to say that Mercedes won’t continue to work with Apple, or Google for that matter. “We have Apple CarPlay, we have Android Auto,” he says. “If, for some of the functions, you feel more comfortable with that and will switch back and forth, be my guest. You can get that, too.” Indeed, Mercedes is even working closely with Google on future mapping systems for its own infotainment systems. “Partner with companies like Google and Apple where it makes sense for them and for us, but be the architecture of your digital environment in the car,” says Källenius. “As I said before, it’s no less than the brain and the central nervous system of your vehicle. You can’t outsource that.”

A big part of tempting users away from simply relying on their phones is that Mercedes will offer a bigger, better screen in its vehicles. Källenius likens it to how people will watch a movie on their phones in an airport, but they’ll use a big-screen TV at home. The large “Hyperscreen”  in new Mercedes models is intended to offer a more desirable viewing experience over and above what even the nicest smartphone can do.

Vorreiter Bei Chatgpt Im Auto: Mercedes Benz Hebt Sprachsteuerung Auf Ein Neues Level Mercedes Benz Takes In Car Voice Control To A New Level With Chatgpt
The company hopes technologies like ChatGPT will be able to offer something compelling to its customers.

Källenius also sees AI assistants like ChatGPT becoming more important in the future. He believes that as quality and local knowledge improves, they will become a critical feature for customers. ChatGPT has already hit certain Mercedes-Benz vehicles via a beta program last year, and the company plans to continue building on this effort with its own Mercedes-Benz virtual assistant in due time.

For now, AI isn’t perfect, but Källenius has faith that this will change. Meanwhile, he sees huge potential to bring value to customers in a way that was never before possible. “Maybe you want to have very specific answers on the destination you’re going to or the type of restaurant and what they have on the menu… you navigate automatically to that,” he says. “All of those things — specific questions that don’t yet work today but which would add a layer of convenience — that’s the direction. ”

It’s funny to think how much the automotive industry has changed. Once upon a time, automakers fought to have the best suspension, the smoothest ride, or the most powerful or efficient engines. Now, they’re fighting just as hard to have the best screen, the best software, and the best maps on the dash. Källenius has made it clear that this is a major area of focus for Mercedes-Benz going forward, and it’s likely the same at virtually all of its rivals, too. We’re in the computational automotive era now, and we will never go back.

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Image credits: Mercedes-Benz

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Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
18 days ago

> the central nervous system in the brain of the whole car

That’s not how it works

FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
18 days ago

Hate on apple all you want, but Mercedes tech has always been spotty. From hydraulic convertible roofs to hydraulic suspensions all the way back to the old Becker radios that looked good but sounded like a child yelling into a soup can on the other end of a string, they need all the help they can get.

VogonFord
VogonFord
18 days ago

just…. put some gauges on there. they look better and they work better!

10001010
10001010
18 days ago

It’s not just that AA and CP are continuously updated but that Apple and Google also spend a ton of resources developing the user experience whereas for most auto makers UI/UX is at most an after-thought and more likely a never-thought.

SLM
SLM
18 days ago
Reply to  10001010

I think this is because Google and Apple main job is developing user experience whereas automaker’s main job is making cars. With the advance in electronics in cars, the infotainment system is only a (very) small part of the computation power of the car. That’s why AA and CP are usefull. What they dont want is give full access to the system.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
18 days ago

I can’t wait for these custom resolutions running custom apps to no longer be supported because Mercedes wants to sell newer cars, leaving an entire vehicle basically bricked.

CarPlay is the best thing that’s happened to ICE in ever. The fact I can continuously update my phone for a relatively low cost, and have better processing power than any of these built in systems is a huge win for the consumer.

By the time most of these cars actually get into production, the chipsets are already outdated. I’m going to go with reason 183,018 to never buy a Mercedes.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
18 days ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Shouldn’t you be driving and not paying attention to a screen or a phone?

VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago

You’ve never interacted with infotainment in your car, ever? Never changed a CD, or skipped a song, etc.?

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
18 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Of course. I have buttons I don’t have to look at. Hell, the stereo in my car is screwy at the moment and doesn’t show anything on the little monochromatic screen. I don’t need to know what it says to change a song or change the volume. I have 2 dials for climate control, and I rarely ever change them. Maybe just the temperature. I can use my windows without looking at a screen, I can turn on lights, change lanes, use wipers, you name it, I can do all of this without ever using a screen.

Wait, you look away from the road to skip a track on your radio???

VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago

Not to change songs, no, but to change album, yes. But that hasn’t changed since CD or cassette days.

Climate control, wipers, lights, etc. not being on screens I totally agree with, for what it’s worth.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
18 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

When it comes to music, I am simple. I just put on Pandora and let it pick random songs from all the albums I like. If I don’t like a song, i just skip it and forget about it. That’s if I am even paying attention to it. I usually keep it quiet so I can hear everything else around me. I like to hear all the noises my car makes so I can fix it before a real problem develops. I know I am a rare case.

VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago

Fair enough. I prefer to own my music so I don’t use any kind of radio/internet stuff.

I tend to skip music for shorter drives though, which is helpful for the reasons you describe.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
18 days ago

Doesn’t Pandora torture your spouse and kill your children if you skip more than twice in a row?

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
17 days ago

Haven’t had a problem with skips at all. What do you mean?

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
17 days ago

I haven’t used Pandora in years and years, but at the beginning they would only let you skip like twice per hour or something.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
16 days ago

Ah yes, I remember that on the free account. I pay 5$ a month to not have ads and can skip as much as I want.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
18 days ago

You know steering wheel buttons work with carplay, right? Like you’re aware of this fact?

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
17 days ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Then what do you need carplay for? Ya know cars have been operated without a screen for over 100 years, you are aware of this fact, right?

Jmfecon
Jmfecon
18 days ago

It’s funny to think how much the automotive industry has changed. Once upon a time, automakers fought to have the best suspension, the smoothest ride, or the most powerful or efficient engines. Now, they’re fighting just as hard to have the best screen, the best software, and the best maps on the dash.

Young people nowadays don’t like to go fast or have a good ride, but likes to be connected all the time.

Honestly, technology from around mid 2000 to mid 2010 is enough for my needs. All day I am surrounded by screens, don’t want them around when I am driving. One, decently sized, is good enough.

Citrus
Citrus
18 days ago
Reply to  Jmfecon

Young people have crippling student debt and can’t afford a Mercedes.

VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago
Reply to  Citrus

^ This. But also, “don’t like to go fast”? Have you seen the horsepower numbers climbing ever upward of modern vehicles (even accounting for higher average vehicle weight)?

Even the new Prius goes 0-60 in ~7 seconds, which is nuts and defeats the point to me.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
18 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

I am thrilled with anything in the 7 second 0-60 times, Anything under 4 seconds is uncalled for outside of sports cars. We don’t need 3 second SUV’s. That is just absurd.

Jmfecon
Jmfecon
18 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Is a good marketing argument. How can an automaker make its car stand from the crowd? Eletrics don’t have sound to let everyone in the block know that the powerful car is coming, so numbers will do the trick to most people, even if they don’t use that much power. Btw, there is too much power available to people that can’t handle that.

VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago
Reply to  Jmfecon

Oh, absolutely. Bigger numbers are always better!
It’s just unfortunate, and I don’t see any easy/”legitimate” way to regulate anything approaching “horsepower maximums”.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
18 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

> Have you seen the horsepower numbers climbing ever upward of modern vehicles

The people buying new cars with high HP aren’t young, though.

:cries:

BOSdriver
BOSdriver
17 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

True, but that just made the Prius more competitive without any major penalty.

As for speed in general, it is funny how a lot of people make speed, or more accurately, acceleration, a big selling point for EVs. Other than youtube, and one time in the last several years where I saw a Polestar driver accelerate quickly in traffic, I have never been passed by an EV in a high EV populated area, Boston. I honestly wouldn’t mind an EV and was actively searching for one recently. It would allow me to be quick when I want but mostly it would cause me to slow down and drive more calmly, just I like I did when I owned a PHEV in the past.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
18 days ago

Can I just have a single DIN car stereo with an Aux cable and a couple buttons to change climate control and a couple lights? I really do not need a screen or cameras.

K? Thanks.

VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago

You never use GPS?
Backup camera is legally required, and a screen comes along with that.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
18 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

No, If I am going somewhere new, I take a quick look at google maps on my computer. That’s about it.

I don’t own a car with a screen, or a camera anywhere. I can turn my head to see what is behind me. I also was taught how to use references to know where every inch of my car is.

VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago

I’d rather have the flexibility to add new destinations, or reroute if my initially planned route is unavailable.

I haven’t driven a sedan in a long time, but knowing where the “back” is past the window has always been difficult in those in my experience. At least the camera helps then.
The camera also helps me if I have a lot of cargo that blocks my rear-view mirror–my aftermarket system lets me force the backup camera to always-on to fill the role of the rear-view mirror.
Plus I have two dashcams…not for any immediate use, but if/when I’m ever in an accident, I’ll at least be able to prove who’s at fault easily.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
18 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Each their own, not saying you are wrong to want these features at all. I am just pissy I have to pay for features I do not use, or find an annoyance.

I have thought about getting a dashcam, I usually end up in 2 accidents a year, and haven’t had one my fault or undisputed in almost 2 decades. I am constantly getting rear-ended by someone not paying attention because they were playing with their phone, or their tacked on iPad.

VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago

Understandable. I actually prefer rear proximity sensors to backup cameras, conceptually, but that’s a tertiary discussion.

Dashcams are definitely getting more affordable and if you have wrenching experience, it should feel like a cakewalk, particularly conceptually. I’d recommend checking out BlackBoxMyCar.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
18 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

I will take a look into it. Thanks for the headsup.

James Carson
James Carson
18 days ago

Two accidents a year! Yikes. Been driving for 49 yrs and have had none.

VanGuy
VanGuy
17 days ago
Reply to  James Carson

Depends where you live, and many accidents are no fault of the driver (see above: getting rear-ended.) I’m guessing they’re less common in sparsely-populated areas.

I haven’t had any in my ~11 years driving, but I’ve lived mainly in rural and suburban PA, and the first 7 years were in a big red van, so that probably helped me out a lot.

James Carson
James Carson
17 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Lived in Regina – 225k, Calgary 1.2m, Ottawa 1.2m, Toronto 6m and rural for the last decade. I attribute it to pure luck. My youngest (lives in Toronto) has averaged about 2 a year for the last decade. His rate is trending down lately.

Citrus
Citrus
18 days ago

Why do we need ChatGPT in a car? Do I need a bunch of inaccurate information when I’m driving?

Here’s an anecdote: My boyfriend is an author, well known enough that ChatGPT has him in its training data. A while ago I plugged his name into one to see what popped up, and it invented a series of books he didn’t write.

Which wasn’t as weird as when I plugged in a different friend and ChatGPT said he played Jerome the Giraffe on The Friendly Giant even though the actual actor and the friend in question do not have remotely similar names.

VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago
Reply to  Citrus

I don’t know if this is “AI” level information-gathering, but I have had success in the past while driving saying “Okay Google, what are the hours of [store a bit away from my way home]” while I was on the highway.

Citrus
Citrus
18 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

That all predates ChatGPT, and works fine. ChatGPT just makes stuff up, so it would be a lot more likely to get the store hours wrong.

Ottomottopean
Ottomottopean
18 days ago

Automakers would be a lot better at the infotainment game if they simply focused on how drivers and passengers actually WANT to use their vehicle instead of trying to monetize every aspect of the vehicle post-purchase.

The reason Apple and Google are so popular here is that they are giving you a way to enjoy what you’ve already purchased in an additional area of your life. Auto manufacturers just want to squeeze a little more out of you.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
18 days ago
Reply to  Ottomottopean

I actually prefer the Mercedes system over CarPlay as it has Augmented Reality, which is great for turning at the right street in unfamiliar territory. That said, I do use CarPlay in the other cars, and if the MB system gets out of date in a few years (as it very well might) I will be able to switch back to CarPlay.

I also like having redundancy. Once I was in an unfamiliar city about to drive back home (several hours) when Apple decided that their Maps servers should go on break for a while. So I was happy to have the in-built nav (which wasn’t great but working) to get me to the freeway.

D-dub
D-dub
18 days ago

Yeah, no. Audio and navigation belong on a screen, and Apple/Google do it better than the car manufacturers. Everything else should be a physical control anyway so stop trying to cram it into the display.

VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago
Reply to  D-dub

There’s a few tertiary limits I always draw, though. My 2012 Prius v’s factory screen had options like the headlight delay after turning it off, how loud the remote chirp is, whether the first fob button press unlocks all doors or just the driver door, etc.
When I replaced the factory unit with an aftermarket one, I had to spend extra for an interface to retain access to those options.

I don’t think those options should be separate physical controls, even if it complicates and requires some “integration” in the screen/infotainment system.

(But yes, climate control, for example, should be separate, physical buttons.)

Spikersaurusrex
Spikersaurusrex
18 days ago

I use Android Auto for maps/directions and music when I’m driving. My wife uses Carplay. We don’t use the screen for anything else (except the backup camera). I don’t know how any automaker can improve on this. Mercedes makes everything more complicated than it needs to be, so maybe that’s why they don’t want a software company handling maps and music? It might be too intuitive and easy for the customers?

Allen Lloyd
Allen Lloyd
18 days ago

Bigger screen so you can watch more stuff… well except the road. GTFOH with this garbage. Just use the phone to do the phone things. Introducing AI is great if you either want to never leave cell service areas or drive a car that uses half its battery powering the AI.

Car makers job number 1 for your EVs is get to Tesla’s efficiency numbers then worry about other stuff. Adding a bunch of junk and weight is not the answer.

VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago
Reply to  Allen Lloyd

If nothing else, I think having the GPS on an easily-readable screen is helpful.

I’ve also saved myself from needing to look at my phone on a couple of occasions by saying “Okay Google, is [store a bit away from my route home] open?”

Allen Lloyd
Allen Lloyd
18 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

I agree, my issue is when the car has built in navigation that just sucks. My phone allows me to use their maps which work and get constantly updated. Why have the car do something poorly that my phone already does well?

So the car company can scrape the data and sell it. If the Mercedes guy said this I would actually respect him, but he sells us this marketing BS instead 🙁

VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago
Reply to  Allen Lloyd

Oh yeah, 100%. Google or Apple, take my data, but not the car manufacturers.

(…I say that sarcastically, but I legitimately like the operation of Android Auto, so in a sense I think they “earn” it just a little more than the car manufacturers ever would. Either way, ideally neither of them would be scraping, but, he we are.)

Never had anything with the car manufacturers’ own navigation, but never felt like I wanted to.

Dingus
Dingus
18 days ago

What I love about this is that all these years later BlackBerry has quietly captured a big chunk of the automotive OS market with their purchase of QNX. You don’t see it, you don’t directly interface with it, but a lot of popular brands use QNX behind the scenes.

BlackBerry is the automotive industry’s most secure and safety-certified embedded software, trusted by most leading OEMs and Tier 1s, including BMW, Bosch, Continental, Dongfeng Motor, Geely, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo, and more.

https://www.blackberry.com/us/en/company/newsroom/press-releases/2023/blackberry-software-is-now-embedded-in-over-235-million-vehicles

Musicman27
Musicman27
18 days ago

Apple wants a bigger piece of the pie that it shouldn’t have in the first place.

Last edited 18 days ago by Musicman27
Lewis26
Lewis26
18 days ago

At least he’s keeping carplay as an option.

GM decided to nix CP and AA is going to bite them.

Carplay is a requirement for any car for us. No carplay means no buy.

Sc00t3r
Sc00t3r
18 days ago
Reply to  Lewis26

Agreed! We recently nixed buying a Tesla in favor of Mustang Mach-e and didn’t darken the doorstep of a GM dealer for this very reason. I’ve even exchanged rental cars when they didn’t have CP as CP is easy to use, and I don’t have to futz with learning the idiosyncrasies of an automobile manufacturer’s abysmal attempt at software design.

Lewis26
Lewis26
18 days ago
Reply to  Sc00t3r

We’re hopefully finalizing our MachE lease this weekend. How do you like yours?

Sc00t3r
Sc00t3r
18 days ago
Reply to  Lewis26

We’ve had it a few months and absolutely love it! We weren’t sure about going electric (range anxiety, battery longevity, etc.), so we opted to lease as well. It’s my wife’s car during the weekdays, and we now share it in the evenings and weekends. My only regret is when I get back in my 2020 Ranger, which is truly a great truck. I feel like I’m driving a Model T in comparison.

Rusty S Trusty
Rusty S Trusty
18 days ago

“..architecture of your digital environment;” “hyperscreen;” “AI assistant:” add automatic transmission to the list and these are all terms from our dystopian near future, an autodystopia if you want to call it that.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
18 days ago

“If you want to create a superior customer experience, you need to think about that as a whole, and only the manufacturer can tie all of it together,” he says. “Nobody out there—none of the tech companies—is even aspiring to do that whole thing.”

There are infotainment systems running Android Automotive. I’m not sure what he means by “that whole thing”, but we’re at least part-way there.

VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago

This is tangential–I guess any vehicle with Android Automotive explicitly can’t use Carplay with a phone?

Not that I’m upset (I’m not Apple fanboy), but just curious.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
18 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

It is compatible with CarPlay.

Goose
Goose
18 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Not true. Many Android Automotive systems have CarPlay and AndroidAuto capability. Here is every car with Android Automotive: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_Automotive#Vehicles_with_Android_Automotive_(with_GAS), the vast majority have CarPlay/AA functionality.

VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago
Reply to  Goose

Huh. Honestly, I was just assuming based on the name. Glad to be wrong.

Goose
Goose
18 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Google doesn’t make things easy with the confusing and similar naming of Android Automotive and Android Auto even though they are completely different. Android Automotive is the actual OS that runs on the car. Android Auto is the mirroring software that runs on a car’s OS and your phone; it’s Android’s version of CarPlay.

Last edited 18 days ago by Goose
VanGuy
VanGuy
18 days ago
Reply to  Goose

Right, I did know that–I just assumed that any car with Android Automotive wouldn’t be able to use Carplay.

(I installed an AA/Carplay compatible head unit in my 2012 Prius v.)

Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
18 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Different corporate philosophies at work. Google is happy to let you use whatever software you want, as long as they can spy on your data use, because they are an ad company that needs all the consumer data they can slurp or steal. Apple pinkie-swearsies that they don’t steal your data provided you use only their high-margin luxury plastic.

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