Car manufacturers efforts with on-board entertainment and control systems leave me bewildered. An industry that has mastered the complex interfaces of car control seems to be perplexed by the simple task of integrating smartphone control into the same vehicles.
Nissan's Connect is the latest example I've come across and it massively overpromises and under delivers.
Connect is a game of two halves. The part where Nissan has done its usual solid job is in phone, Bluetooth audio and iPod integration. Even the GPS is pretty good - bar the somewhat ropey search function, anyway.
It's in the parts of the system which leverage the Nissan Connect app that it all falls to pieces.
Getting the app and car connected can be a labour and many owners will give up at this point. Saving themselves trouble in the future if I'm to be honest. Signing up for an account, matching it to your vehicle and getting app and car to agree to talk is far more difficult than it should be.
Once car and app are connected the real trouble starts. The app works over a wired connection on iPhone, Bluetooth on Android (and not at all on Windows Mobile, but hey, no surprise there, right?). Only it doesn't, most of the time anyway. Instead you'll usually see errors about no smartphone being connected. Restarting the phone and the car's head unit usually resolves the issue, but not always. Even when it does it's hardly the seamless user experience one would come to expect of Nissan.
That's annoying because it blocks useful features like Google's Send To Car service, which allows you to prepare destinations on your PC and have them ready and waiting on your car when you need them. Great feature when it works, bloody liability when it doesn't. Similarly Voice Search only works when a successful hook-up between car and app has been completed.
Other than Google's, the only other services available in NZ are Pandora and Facebook. The former is less capable than the Pandora app on your phone and the latter has never once worked for me, always complaining that the Facebook service could not be reached. Other countries get a much wider selection of services and for most there seems no reason why they aren't offered globally. Twitter, for example, seems like a prime candidate.
All in all the Nissan Connect app and smartphone experience is dreadful. You're much better off using the Bluetooth streaming functionality and the voice controls of your smartphone to interact with your phone.
In many ways the only positive thing I can say about Nissan Connect is that it levels the playing field between iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile, because in this instance having no app at all is probably better than having one that works so badly.
No wonder Apple Car and Google Auto are gaining ground in this space.
As far as Nissan goes, it's a shocking misstep from a company that puts customer experience first, it really should consider revising the language it uses to promote such a disappointing product.