Today Honda officially entered the in-vehicle connectivity race with the announcement of its cloud-based HondaLink. Actually, it won’t officially enter this race until this fall when HondaLink comes equipped in the 2013 Honda Accord, but nonetheless, the automaker has joined the ranks of the many in the suddenly crowded in-vehicle connectivity market.
So what makes HondaLink stand out from the pack? At this point I am not quite sure. But I do applaud the automaker for focusing greatly on the idea of putting down the smartphone in the vehicle and streaming all your desired content instead to the head unit. During the Webinar today announcing the launch of the HondaLink, the automaker emphasized the need to reduce driver distraction multiple times, which is a plus for sure.
Also during the Webinar, Honda officials acknowledged that there is indeed a great deal of competition in the in-vehicle technology category, but that none were without challenges. The automaker says its starting point with this system is on it being intuitive and easy to use, saying that it hopes to eliminate that visual burden that can distract the driver.
A new HondaLink smartphone application allows drivers to preset content on their phone and then once in the car, they can access content using voice recognition, steering-wheel mounted controls, and in-dash audio system controls. Honda calls the service a tether that serves as a conduit to a great deal of cloud-based content. It hopes to do this by featuring an automotive OEM application of Aha in the HondaLink that will allow drivers to access a range of cloud-based services that can be updated dynamically.
What I liked was the fact Honda acknowledged that technologies need to support the idea of the connected customer. As consumers, we are always on and always leveraging our devices, so to be able to bring in our devices and consume our desired content is appealing.
The automaker introduced some streaming audio and SMS features last fall in the 2012 Honda CR-V, and with today’s announcement even went into some of the energy efficient options with its Honda Fit EV vehicle. So Honda is making the commitment and seems to want to provide some flavor of the connected automobile for every type of driver it serves.
Will it be enough to stand out from the pack? It’s hard to say at this point, but we will wait with anticipation when we can step inside one of these vehicles this fall. If anything, we just have another candidate for the 2013 Connected World Connected Car of the Year.