As technology has become more inextricably integrated into our lives, problems have emerged. Texting while driving has been a concern for over a decade, but now that cell phones and tablets have hundreds of other features, they have become more distracting than ever.
Apple CarPlay is the "ultimate copilot." It allows drivers to use a wide range of functions safely and easily while driving. Siri, Maps, music controls, hands-free texting and calling, and many more services are available in one simple package. It lets drivers enjoy the comfort and convenience that their iPhone offers without putting everyone around them in danger. Many automakers offer this service standard, and honestly, it ought to be a law that any vehicle that has a digital display has controls that allow it to be operated hands-free for the sake and safety of passengers and people in other cars.
Other automakers charge a service fee to install a CarPlay device in the vehicle. Previously, German luxury car manufacturer BMW charged a fee of $300 for installation and the device would be good for the life of the vehicle. Now, however, BMW is changing its model; instead of charging a fee to install the device, BMW will charge an $80 annual fee for the service after having it for one year for free.
The automaker claimed it would be better for those who lease their cars; if you lease a car for two years and then upgrade, you would pay a total of $80 for the service rather than the total $300 for the installation. The model becomes worse for owners who own their car for five or more years, but if they decide to eventually ditch Siri for another hands-free assistant -- or if they see the light and decide to try to drive undistracted -- they can feel good about canceling that subscription. The automaker said that the new model avoids situations in which you bought the technology but decided that you never want to use it again (for whatever reason) and then just have in embedded in your car.
BMWs are luxury cars, so the very small difference in cost probably shouldn't be a deterrent -- the cars already have a massive price tag -- but it does bring up an interesting idea about the future. Cloud computing and the Internet of Things have already populated the media with their buzzwords, and now digital displays in autonomous and semi-autonomous cars are creating a huge splash by becoming more about entertainment and comfort than transportation. As those devices get better and better, we will look to upgrading our "digital display" to a full-on television. And then we'll have to pay for cable or internet service.
According to Engadget, BMW plans to offer Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant in their vehicles in the future to compete with Siri for attention later this year.