Owners want their in-vehicle technology to look and behave more like the intuitive, feature-rich smartphones they interact with every day. Technologies like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay allow owners to use the larger vehicle screen to take advantage of the more advanced, internet-connected smartphone functions.
“Consumer demand is increasing for more advanced in-vehicle connectivity, and the technology is there, but the integration is far from seamless,” said Kathy Rizk, director of automotive consulting at J.D. Power. “Owners want their vehicle systems to become an extension of their smartphone experience, with the same speed, responsiveness and functionality. But early feedback is mixed, and J.D. Power consultants have independently uncovered significant concerns with some of the current market executions.”
Rizk said that when smartphone mirroring technology doesn’t function the way owners expect it to, they are more likely to blame the automaker than their personal device. Since 2013, the two most prevalent problems reported are Bluetooth pairing/poor connectivity and problems understanding voice commands, outpacing other problems by a wide margin. In 2016, those two issues alone combined for an average for 14 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100).
Smartphone mirroring technologies can greatly magnify these problems when poorly executed. An independent analysis by J.D. Power consultants of the same systems measured in the 2016 U.S. Initial Quality Study substantiates these types of issues. The SAM Report discusses that analysis and also provides insights into the various integration executions that are currently being used.
“These issues are compounded by the fact that the presence of smartphone mirroring technology is in a vehicle—and the hope that it will improve the user experience—is often a key purchase decision factor for many owners,” said Rizk. “When this technology does not function as well as expected—and, in fact, creates new and unique problems—owners are understandably frustrated.”
Even when they experience problems, most owners using Android Auto or Apple CarPlay express appreciation for the additional functionalities offered, as well as being given the choice between their factory-installed system and smartphone mirroring. As desire for the technology does not seem to be diminished by the problems owners face with it, demand is expected to continue to grow.
In fact, while only 10 vehicle brands offered one or both Android and Apple technologies in select 2016 model-year vehicles in this year’s U.S. Initial Quality Study, the number of brands and models offering the technologies has increased substantially for the 2017 model year, with many models slated to introduce smartphone mirroring technology in the future.
“The likely result of increased smartphone mirroring presence is that the impact on vehicle quality is expected to increase as well,” said Rizk. “Automakers that can get smartphone mirroring right have the potential to reduce problems and improve satisfaction. And with driver distraction increasingly becoming an area of concern, it is more important than ever to strike the appropriate balance between owner demand for feature contenting and keeping driver distraction minimized.”