Next gen in-car connectivity – Seatbelt week

Getting our heads around the next generation in-car internet connections. A warning that Europe’s police will be on the look out for drivers and passengers not using seatbelts this week. Swiss voters to decide how road improvements are paid for. A good guide to driving in Turkey, an end to road blocks in Sarajevo, plus the benefits of the Touring Club Italia discount card.

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NEXT GENERATION IN-CAR CONNECTIVITY

Very fancy web-based driving services still depend on roaming charges, but maybe not for much longer.

Land Rover In-Control App.

Land Rover’s new In-Control system.

Apple’s new CarPlay made a big splash at last week’s Geneva Motor Show. Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are the first manufacturers to use the system which effectively turns a car’s satnav screen into a giant iPhone. Another thirteen major car makers are due to follow suit.

Land Rover debuts a similar system on its new top end Evoque Autobiography later this year. The number of apps is more limited than CarPlay, so far – though it works with Goggle’s Android operating system too – but essentially it does the same thing: keeps the driver seamlessly and safety connected to the internet.

Both systems are surely the next big thing in in-car communications. But while they make connecting more convenient they don’t make it any cheaper, particularly outside the driver’s home country.

The same old problems, of either searching out free wifi hotspots – or forking out fortunes for roaming boosters – remain for the time being.

BMW’s current ConnectedDrive avoids this to a certain extent because, via a built-in SIM card, its mind-boggling array of services – from music streaming to remote locking and unlocking, and concierge services – are all available in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain at no extra cost.

Go outside this area however, or use the services beyond the complementary first three years, and they cost.

Similarly, the frighteningly sophisticated services available through Audi Connect – synchronising with traffic lights via a city’s main transport computer hub, for instance, or wifi hotspot for up to eight devices simultaneously – relies on inserting a SIM card subject to your provider’s data download charges.

Can you imagine the cost of data for a two week Continental holiday for eight devices?!

However amazing these services can be, and unimaginable even just a couple of years ago, the shame is they are not available to your average punter when potentially at their most useful, i.e. in a genuinely strange location, e.g. abroad.

Current moves by the EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes to end roaming charges cannot come soon enough (thankfully, apparently endorsed yesterday by David Cameron and Angela Merkel).

In the meantime, drivers are still dependent on the largesse of countries like Greece which announced plans this weekend to install a free nationwide wifi network.

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It's TISPOL Seatbelt Week: traffic police across the Continent will be particularly on the look out for drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts.

It’s TISPOL Seatbelt Week: traffic police across the Continent will be on the look out particularly for drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts, from 10-16 March.

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roundup: SWITZERLAND. Voters head to the referendum polls again to decide between the govt’s plan to raise fuel taxes, or an opposition plan to ringfence the entire fuel tax revenues, in order to pay for the roads. The govt’s plan to raise the price of the motorway vignette was defeated last year. No date for the new vote has been set yet. BOSNIA. Anti-govt protestors have agreed to lift traffic blockades in the centre of Sarajevo. TURKEY. An excellent, simple guide to driving in the country from @ATasteofTravel who drove a 6,000km round trip from Istanbul last year. The roads are in good nick, and quiet apparently. ITALY. Touring Club Italiano is again pushing the benefits of its Touring Card giving discounts to hotels, restaurants, attractions, ferries, etc, all for €25.

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