The term “Audi connect” covers all applications and developments that connect Audi cars to their drivers, the internet, transportation infrastructure and other vehicles. Audi is continually building up its lineup of products and services in this technical area – with new solutions such as the Audi connect SIM and the new traffic light information service for the US market.
In Audi connect, an LTE/UMTS module establishes the connection to the internet with download speeds of up to 100 MBit/s. The integrated Wi-Fi hotspot lets passengers freely surf the web, stream and text/e-mail with up to eight mobile devices. Customized online services from the Audi connect portfolio are delivered to the car for the driver.
One of these services is traffic information online – it supplies data on the current traffic flow patterns in real time. If the selected route has good traffic flow, it appears in green in the display; if traffic is heavy or slow-moving it is shown in orange, and traffic jams are highlighted in red. In this case, the service names the problem and suggests an appropriate alternate route. Traffic information online covers not only freeways, but also country highways and city streets. It covers most European countries.
The parking information service displays parking places, parking structures and underground parking garages at the car’s current location, destination or any other desired location. Whenever possible, it also indicates the number of available spaces and parking fees. The address of the parking place can be used as the navigation destination, and its surroundings appear on the monitor via Google Earth and Google Street View.
The fuel prices service lists the gas stations with the lowest fuel prices. Flight, bus and train information from Audi connect can be used to check for departure times, train track and gate numbers and any delays. The user can also search for a specific flight number directly.
City events is an Audi connect service that provides information on a large variety of events at the current location, at a travel destination or at a user-selected location. Customers can filter them by various categories such as cultural or sporting events. The range of Audi connect services in this area is rounded out by news online – which can be adapted to personal interests – and by travel and weather information.
Audi connect also integrates the Twitter online community service which is also prepared and integrated in a vehicle-specific way. Along with the read-aloud function, there is also a text function – the driver can send out predefined text modules, if desired they may be combined with data such as the current position.
In many Audi models, the driver can transfer e‑mails from a smartphone into the car and have them read aloud. The driver can also dictate text messages (SMS) and send them out. A server in the Cloud converts the sound file into a data packet.
Many Audi connect services and functions can be controlled by voice control, including point-of-interest (POI) searches. Here too, the system converts a voice command into a data packet and sends it to the Google search engine. Audi customers can use the personal POI search (PPOI) to transfer interesting destinations or information on current hazard points from the databases of third-party providers to their myAudi account and transfer them from there to the navigation map in the car. This makes it possible to select each individual destination in Google Maps and then make it available to MMI navigation in the car. Five free navigation map updates are available every six months for the Q7 and A4 models with the MMI navigation plus and Audi connect equipment options.
Audi will also be offering other new services in Europe, and soon in the USA as well. They are: emergency call after an accident, which notifies the Audi Emergency Call Center, online roadside assistance, which is handled at the
Audi Service Center and Audi service request, which customers can use to schedule an appointment at a service shop.
Audi MMI connect app
The free Audi MMI connect app brings additional services into the car. The user can use the Web Radio and Media Library functions to receive broadcasts from more than 3,000 internet radio stations, save personal favorites to a cell phone and play them back via the MMI navigation plus system. The app also provides access to the media library stored in the user’s smartphone. Music data is then transmitted over Wi-Fi from the smartphone to MMI navigation plus and from there to the sound system. Another app service is online media streaming, which provides access to the services of the Napster and Rhapsody subscription music portals and Aupeo! radio service. This gives Audi customers access to nearly 20 million music titles and several thousand audio books in MP3 format via MMI navigation plus.
For owners of the new A4 and Q7 models, the Audi MMI connect app also offers vehicle-related remote services. They can lock or unlock the vehicle doors by smartphone, operate the optional auxiliary heating function or view an up-to-date status report on the car. They can also have the parking location and parking time displayed. In the Audi e-tron models, other functions are added: remote control of battery charging and air conditioning and access to vehicle data. The app’s remote functions can also be activated by a smartwatch.
The new Calendar service in the Q7 and A4 transfers the smartphone’s calendar into the car – the location of a meeting can be input directly as a navigation destination, and a phone number can be selected directly and saved as a contact in the vehicle. If desired, the user can have the system read out the place, time and description of the meeting.
In the USA, other services are also included – they alert owners via smartphone if their car is being moved by a third party in a way that is expressly prohibited in the owner’s individual configuration. The geofencing alert becomes active if the car leaves or enters a predefined zone. Curfew alert is triggered if the car is driven during an unallowable time of day. Valet alert issues a warning if the car is being misused in valet parking, and the speed alert informs the owner if the car is being driven too fast by a third party. If the car is stolen, the stolen vehicle locator helps to localize the car by transferring position data to the police. These services are also available in the new A4 and Q7 models.
Audi MMI connect for Apple TV
The smartphone and the car are already closely interconnected at Audi. Now the home is being added as well. A prerequisite is a TV set that is equipped with the fourth generation Apple TV, which enables the installation of third-party apps for the first time. Here, Audi owners can operate many Audi MMI connect app functions via a television. For instance, they can check the vehicle’s current status or operate remote functions without having to reach for a cell phone.
The relevant app will be available for download from the iTunes store at the beginning of 2016.
Audi connect SIM for Europe
In May 2015, Audi entered into a strategic partnership with the Irish company Cubic Telecom, a leading provider of global seamless connectivity solutions. The first product of this partnership is the Audi connect SIM, which will be available in European markets in just a few months in the new A4 and Q7 models.
The Audi connect SIM is what is known as an embedded SIM (e‑SIM) that is permanently installed in the car; the customer acquires it with the Audi connect feature. From the first moment of ownership, it brings Audi connect services on-board without the driver having to complete an activation procedure. It also permits automatic EU-wide roaming, because the SIM card can automatically be set for a specific country provider if necessary. This eliminates country-specific roaming fees for customers as well as inconvenient roaming confirmation procedures.
Regardless of which connect services are integrated, Audi owners can choose additional data packages on the Audi connect SIM for the Wi-Fi hotspot at economical rates. This lets passengers surf the web and text or e-mail in the vehicle. When crossing borders, i.e. when switching providers, data transfer automatically resumes at the preset price. The Audi connect SIM is enabled for three years after the purchase of a new car. After this time period, an Audi service partner can reactivate it for a fee.
Traffic light information
In the near future, Audi will already be extending its connect services to communication with the transportation infrastructure (Car‑to‑X) as well. Starting in 2017 in the USA, traffic light information will connect the A4 and Q7 to the central traffic control host computers that control the traffic light systems in the city via the mobile communications network. Based on this information, the Audi virtual cockpit shows a recommended speed to the driver in order to reach the next traffic light while it is green. When waiting for the light to turn green, the time remaining is also shown in the display.
The new service offers relief to drivers in complex traffic situations, and it can reduce real fuel consumption by as much as 15 percent in urban traffic.
Traffic sign information
Traffic sign information is another new service that will go into production in the new Q7 and A4 models in model year 2017. The on-board camera analyzes speed limit signs and communicates with a server in the Cloud. The data are aggregated and evaluated there and are then transmitted to suitably equipped cars from Audi – highly up-to-date and individually prepared for the specific driving route. The updated information is also used for regular map updates of MMI navigation plus, which makes it available to the entire Audi fleet.
The new service offers tremendous advantages compared to detection by the on-board camera. The system sends the detected speed limits to the cloud, and other road users are informed earlier and more reliably. Simultaneously, the data is routed to the available pACC and PEA driver assistance systems, which enables very predictive and efficient speed control. The system can call the driver’s attention to a speed limit even before a sign can be seen, e.g. because the sign is hidden over a hill.
The new hazard information service, which will also launch in the A4 and Q7 in model year 2017, uses the principle of swarm intelligence as well. Here, cars mutually warn one another of road hazards via a server – of accident and car breakdown locations, skidding hazards on slippery pavement and visual limitations due to fog. The new service has the potential to significantly improve safety in road traffic.
Progress made in mobile and home infotainment has set new tasks for automobile manufacturers. Audi is answering the challenge with innovative forward-looking technologies.
The MIB2 (MIB = modular infotainment platform) represents the foundation for Audi infotainment. It utilizes an NVIDIA T30 processor, a quad core chip of the Tegra 3 series, and it went into production in summer 2014. With a clock speed of over 1 GHz and a fast graphics card, it can drive two displays. The Tegra 30 processor works together with a 3D graphics program from the specialist company Rightware to display three-dimensional images.
Audi phone box with wireless charging
The Audi phone box in the center armrest wirelessly interfaces a cell phone to the car’s antenna by near-field coupling. In wireless inductive charging based on the Qi standard, electrical current is induced from a coil in the bottom of the box to a receiver coil in the smartphone.
Audi smartphone interface
The Audi smartphone interface brings Apple Car Play and Android Auto into the vehicle. When a customer connects an iOS or Android cell phone to the USB port (iOS 7.1 or higher, Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher), smartphone content such as navigation, phone, music and select third-party apps can be accessed in a separate MMI menu. They are conveniently operated by MMI or voice control.
Audi conceptualized both applications especially for use in the car. The core content here is online music with access to an enormous range of music from Google Play Music and iTunes. There are also navigation and notification functions as well as schedule reminders. The service lineup will grow further via third-party apps like Pandora, Spotify and WhatsApp.
Sound systems with 3D sound
For sophisticated hi-fi fans, the new Audi Q7 offers a choice between two optional systems: one by Bose and one by Bang & Olufsen. Both offer the new 3D sound. Two (Bose) or four (Bang & Olufsen) additional speakers in the A‑pillars add a spatial dimension of height, lending the music an airy and spacious quality, as if it were being played on a large virtual stage.
The 3D technology creates an unprecedented sound experience in the car.
An intelligent program calculates information for the third dimension from conventional stereo or 5.1 recordings and prepares it for the speakers in the A‑pillars. While Bose uses its own algorithms (Bose Advanced Staging Technology), the Bang & Olufsen system employs a procedure developed by Audi together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS) in Erlangen. The heart of the Bose 3D sound system is a 558-watt 15‑channel amplifier.
The innovative Bose algorithm analyzes the components of a piece of music and positions them optimally on the virtual sound stage. This involves driving 19 speakers, some of which have LED light guides in their surrounds.
The Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System with 3D sound, which is also available in the A4, integrates up to 23 speakers. They feature newly designed aluminum surrounds, and they are also illuminated in the door areas. A subwoofer, 25 cm (9.8 in) in diameter, generates a powerful bass, while two acoustic lenses made of solid aluminum create the treble tones. They extend from the instrument panel when the system is started. The high-efficiency amplifier outputs 1,920 watts of power.
The Audi tablet with its high-resolution 10.1‑inch screen is really a flexible Rear Seat Entertainment system. The tablet is available in the new A4 and Q7 models. Connected to MMI navigation plus via Wi-Fi, it affords access to the Radio, Media, Navigation and Car Functions menus. The data transfer runs in both directions – rear passengers might send a planned route to the driver, for instance or, conversely, the driver could start a radio or media program for them from MMI navigation plus. The sound is output either over the vehicle sound system or through the passengers’ headphones.
The Audi tablet, which uses the Android operating system, including its available apps. It also supports NFC technology (NFC = Near Field Communication) for transmitting data from the smartphone to nearby devices. It has 32 gigabytes of internal memory and can be expanded by a microSD card for additional memory. The technical core is the Tegra 4 processor from NVIDIA. The integrated full‑HD camera can be used to make a video call with Skype. After the trip, the user can take the Audi tablet from the car and operate it offline or on an external Wi-Fi network.
The Audi tablet’s anodized frame is milled from solid aluminum. Together with its rechargeable battery, it is logically designed for use in the car. It can also handle high or very low temperatures without problems; the tilt-adjustable bracket on the back of the front seat is collision-proof and removable if required. The Audi tablet is available individually or as a set of two.
Gesture control for the Audi tablet
Audi is already working on the next generation with gesture control. This enables comfortable seating when operating the Audi tablet while it is mounted on the back of the front seat. The user just needs to perform a few gestures to access all key functions – selecting, zooming and scrolling. A 3D sensor detects hand movements.
Equipment, data and prices specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice.