The term “Audi connect” covers all applications and developments that connect Audi models to the owner, the Internet, the infrastructure and other vehicles. Ricky Hudi, Head of Electrics/Electronics Development at Audi, describes it like this: “A defining feature of the last decade was that we fully integrated all the functions in the vehicle. In the decade to come, we will seamlessly network the vehicle with its environment.”
Audi began working toward this long ago. Indeed, partnerships with Google (software) and Nvidia (hardware) started back in 2005. Internet services became available in Audi cars for the first time in 2009. This strategy resulted in the brand’s technological lead in the field of infotainment, which many Audi models offer today.
For many young customers, the automobile’s image is changing. It has evolved from a status symbol to a mobile device: a technological object that lets its users be online and connected while on the move. The Audi brand has developed its new customized Audi connect services with this in mind.
Bluetooth online car phone and voice control
The Bluetooth online car phone is available in many models; it connects to the internet via a UMTS module that is integrated in the MMI navigation plus system. An additional feature of this system, the WLAN hotspot makes it possible for passengers to connect as many as eight mobile terminal devices, from iPhones to notebook computers. Thanks to WPA2 data encryption, they can safely surf the Internet and e-mail to their heart’s content.
The Bluetooth online car phone is operated via MMI navigation plus, the multifunction steering wheel or voice control. Telephone calls and data transfer are handled by a roof antenna to optimize connectivity. All the driver needs to do to go online is insert a data-capable SIM card in the card reader. Alternatively, they can connect their cell phone to the system via Bluetooth if it is equipped with the necessary SIM Access Profile.
Audi is already the leading brand in ergonomics, and objective tests have repeatedly confirmed this. That is also true of the voice-activated control system available for many models. Key functions of the audio system, navigation and telephone – including address book – can be operated by voice control.
If a Bluetooth online car phone is installed, voice control can also be used to operate the Google POI search. Especially here, and in navigation, the Audi system proves to be a very strong performer. The driver can input his or her entire destination – city, street and house number – in a very natural way by speaking it in a single sentence. He can also input the names of radio stations, media titles and contacts.
As an alternative to voice control, a second user control level is available in most Audi models in the form of a large rotary pushbutton. In the top model lines and the new A3, Audi also offers the innovative touchpad, MMI touch, which operates with handwriting recognition. The driver writes letters or numbers on the touch-sensitive screen with a finger and the system provides acoustic feedback after each character is entered.
The innovative MMI touch is particularly appealing for speakers of Asian languages, as the system can distinguish and process thousands of characters from different languages.
Current Audi connect services
The Bluetooth online car phone provides customers with many customized Audi connect services such as news, travel and weather information, and Google points of interest. Drivers can use myAudi to plan routes on their home computers, upload them to their account on www.audi.com and then transfer them to their vehicle prior to departure. If desired, the driver can view the map with background aerial and satellite images from Google Earth.
An especially attractive service is Audi online traffic information. This service displays current traffic flow data on the navigation map. If the route chosen by the driver has free-flowing traffic, it is shown in green; yellow indicates dense or slow-moving traffic, and red signifies a traffic jam. In this case, Audi online traffic information identifies the traffic problem in a text and suggests an alternative route that does not lead right to another traffic jam.
Audi’s system operates more quickly, precisely and intelligently than the existing TMC and TMC pro solutions. It also includes cities and rural routes. The primary source of data for the database is hundreds of thousands of smartphones and navigation devices which are in vehicles and report their current positions at short intervals to service providers via the cell phone network. The data then provide a nuanced portrayal of traffic flows. Audi online traffic information has been launched in Central Europe, France, the UK and Italy; additional countries will follow in quick succession.
Another new Audi connect service is the POI (Point Of Interest) search, which can be operated via the voice control system. The driver simply chooses a destination and specifies their interest – the name of a restaurant, for instance. The voice command, or “voice tag,” is converted to a small data packet that is sent to the Google search engine.
Results which appear on the onboard monitor often include the telephone number of the restaurant and additional information. A single click will reserve a table. The POI search function is so versatile that drivers can simply specify a word such as “flowers” – and a list of florists appears.
Google Street View, yet another Audi connect function, makes it far easier to get oriented. It allows drivers to preview a selected destination via 360-degree panoramic street-level images.
A further innovation is Audi music stream, the first smartphone app by Audi connect. Users can thus tune in to over 5,000 online radio stations and store their favorites on a mobile device. Thanks to WLAN, this function is fully integrated within the operating philosophy of MMI navigation plus, allowing for intuitive user friendliness.
The equipment, data, and prices specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.