back to article Honda pores over in-car navigation software with Alibaba – report

Honda and Alibaba are teaming up to work on connected car services, becoming the latest big companies to leap aboard the smart vehicle technology bandwagon. Alibaba will get the opportunity to put its Autonavi mapping services into the Japanese carmaker’s future vehicles, with customers also being able to make online payments …

  1. tiggity Silver badge

    Give me a car with

    Less electronic tat

    Theres only 1 bit of electronic trickery I would liek in a car - automatically keeping the clock accurate.

    Currently drive a few cars (infirm family / extended falily vehicles to get them to places) mots of those cars have lots of pointless electronic gadgetry, but clock is wrong in all of them.

    .. yes I could look at wristwatch / phone / whatever when I'm seeing if on time to take them to doctors appointment, but prefer console clock as less time looking away from road ahead to look at that than alternative time piece.

    .. Have to go old school approach and get passenger to check their phone / watch to make sure we area on time

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Give me a car with

      My clock syncs to the radio....don't they all these days?

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Give me a car with

      Theres only 1 bit of electronic trickery I would liek in a car - automatically keeping the clock accurate.

      Honda already - sorta - has that. The infotainment unit is built on Android(*) and if connected to a Bluetooth device like a phone it will correct its clock. Sorta. What it won't do (which pisses me off a lot) is automatically handle DST switching. There's an option to tell it what timezone you're in so why the *bleep* doesn't it handle DST?

      Mind you it's not the only stupid bit of engineering it suffers from. I've mentioned before that when you turn the engine on you get a message on the screen asking you to click [Ok] to confirm that you accept liability if something goes wrong. If you ignore the message the screen goes black. Unfortunately that's almost the only place the time is shown. It can also be shown in the driver's information display if you turn cruise control off but most people are happy just to disable CC rather than actually turn it off. To compound the idiocy the time will actually still be visible on the screen..but only just. In its normal position (top right) just dimly visible.

      If it at least left the time at normal brightness it would be helpful. Or even better instead of blanking the screen replace it with a full size digital clock. But apparently whoever implemented Honda's current infotainment unit was a pillock. I think I read somewhere they got Pioneer to do it :-/

      (*) v4.1 I think. Maybe 4.4. Either way not too clever for a vehicle that first went on sale in 2016 :-/

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Give me a car with

        Previous Honda had a system built by Pioneer - but was fitted by the dealer, not Honda, because at the time if you wanted a Honda fitted satnav/radio system you had to get a model with alloy sun roof and go-faster door handles and other unwanted sh*t.

        But that satnav was so rubbish that it was more accurate to look at trees to find which side the moss grew. It routinely took us in big 350 degree circles to get to places we'd been a few hundred yards from. As in turning right and going all round Regents' Park and into (London's) Euston Rd to get to a place that was just to the left of the entrance. And map updates cost more than it would to have a whole new satnav fitted!

        Have had current (both were a Jazz) for almost a year and it's 1000 times better. (Roughly speaking).

        1. AndrueC Silver badge

          Re: Give me a car with

          Have had current (both were a Jazz) for almost a year and it's 1000 times better. (Roughly speaking).

          You must have missed the early versions then and bought from a dealer that updated the software. For the first eight months of my Jazz(*) ownership I had to put up with the infotainment unit often crashing on startup and then taking a couple of minutes to reboot. Just what you expect after spending £17k on a car - no audio for the first couple of minutes of driving :-/

          I even resorted to getting an illicit(ish) image from the XDA forum because my dealer couldn't update the firmware for me. Amusingly (not really) it eventually turned out that an OTA fix for the infotainment application in August 2016 finally solved the issue. Good to know - my car's infotainment unit can be crashed by the top level code :-/

          The technical side of owning a modern car :-/

          (*)It affected all 2015+ models in Honda's range.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Give me a car with

        If the radio in the car is DAB or RDS then the clock syncs automatically and that has been the case in my cars for decades.

    3. Wade Burchette

      Re: Give me a car with

      I bought a car with navigation. This was in 2004. There have been no more updates since 2013. Because of this, I now use the GPS of my phone. It is always up to date, I don't have to pay for those updates, and it has traffic. I've now decided that I will not buy a car with GPS built-in no exception. You are not going to fool me twice. I might consider a head unit with GPS built in. If the updates stop for that, then I can rip it out and put a new head unit in; can't do that with a built-in GPS. There is only two features I want in my radio: Bluetooth and iPod compatibility. (The old iPods which had plenty of storage space for my lossless CD rips. You know, devices so good they had to go.)

      I already know the car manufacturer's response: but a new car. Sorry, but my vehicle is paid for and works well. I have spent very little on repairs and maintenance, and most of that was normal wear and tear. No major mechanical problems at all. Why should I replace? Just keep updating your navigation data!

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Give me a car with

        I have NEVER used SatNav. I have on of those minds where I can look at a map and route and drive it/run it. I once drove my mother from here in Dundee to my cousin's place outside Macclefield where I had never been before entirely on map memory.

        Recently I got lost trying to follow my wife's convoluted route from our friend's place on the Edinburgh waterfront out towards the Bridges. It was dark, it was pissing down and I got lost. I ended up looking up where I was on my phone map. Even then I must have gotten the direction I was facing wrong because the next thing I knew I was driving along Princes St. Great! knew where I was and how to get where I was going.

        I could drive you someplace I haven't been in decades, here in the UK or in New Zealand. I've spotted where our youngest is getting married in May in Wanaka. Drop me anywhere in NZ and I could drive there, no map required. Alternate routes already plotted, earthquake repairs requiring.

        I take it that not everyone is like me, we have a friend who uses the satnav to drive to our place despite having been here dozens of times. I suspect SatNav users become dependent and their innate mental navigation withers.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Give me a car with

          I suspect SatNav users become dependent and their innate mental navigation withers.

          That's me. I'm pretty much the opposite of you though. I need a map in front of me, with a compass, just to get to the shop on the corner. ( I exaggerate, but only slightly, I can easily come out of a door or side street and turn exactly the opposite direction to the one that brings me back to where I want to be).

          But with a satnav device I can just turn my dodgy sense of direction off and rely on the electronics.

  2. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    You beat me to it.

    Having had the "delight" of a car with all sorts of electronic wizardry, I have one criteria for my next car ...

    Just some speakers, and blue tooth. Leave me to bring SatNav and entertainment to the party.

    I'm certainly not paying extra for it.

    In the last 18 months, I haven't found a single hotel, museum, or train station in my Citroens "POI" database. Which is also very patchy when it comes to speed limits. I can't even leave it on to tell me what the current speed limit is reliably.

    by contrast, my Android phone has spot-on GPS (Thanks to "HERE"), and serves up whatever tracks I might want to hear by voice. Oh, and it's a phone, too.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: +1,000,000

      In the last 18 months, I haven't found a single hotel, museum, or train station in my Citroens "POI" database.

      Isn't that fairly common.

      Used to have a Tom Tom (eight or so years ago). According to it's point of interest. The nearest swimming pool was over the channel in France.

      What many would think of as a 'swimming pool' were all under 'sports'

      - maybe it's only a swimming pool if it's one of those (unpopular in blighty) outdoors (unheated) ones.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: +1,000,000

      In the last 18 months, I haven't found a single hotel, museum, or train station in my Citroens "POI" database. Which is also very patchy when it comes to speed limits.

      My Honda reads them as it drives past them. Does a fairly good job of it as well. But it's not perfect. On the A55 heading east past Halkyn it reads the limits from the road running alongside. Apparently there's a few places that happens and if you have (daft idea) enabled the speed limiter function it will indeed apply the brakes for you. Not very clever since that road has a 40mph limit and the A55 is 70mph :-/

  3. Floydian Slip

    We know where you are

    So, says a cunning, eveil, genius - we now know where you are, we can track your car covertly. See where you go and sell the information to the highest bidder so wed can advertise to you.

    Or target just you with a small diameter bomb to minimise collateral damage

  4. SniperPenguin

    Mental Note for the future.

    Never, ever buy a Honda with Sat Nav built in.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Mental Note for the future.

      At the moment it's not too bad. The built in SatNav is essentially the Android version of Garmin's. So it's actually quite good. It's a bit cheap because even if it gets an Internet connection through your phone it won't fetch traffic updates.

      Having found that the ICE is basically an Android tablet I sniffed around inside. There's a browser. So I tried downloading and installing the Amazon app store. Which nearly worked but the version of Android underneath is so ancient it refused to install.

      In theory you could get an .apk file on a USB stick and install that.

      Currently the absolute best SatNav is a modern Internet connected TomTom. They're fantastic driving tools. They do a few things that Google, Waze etc. just don't do, and it makes a big difference to the driving task. They have a decent Web back end too, so you can do pre-drive route planning very effectively. You can even get your route changed over the Internet whilst you're driving. So one's partner could update where you're headed too, or the route you'll take, whilst you're driving it.

      I have one of these with built in cellular, world maps (well, to the extent TomTom have maps anyway, not Japan which is annoying). As a driving aid it's unsurpassed.

      BMW's built-in stuff is poor by comparison. It works, kinda, but you're always left thinking that a TomTom is better. BMW share this SatNav with a bunch of other European car manufacturers. They'd all be better off building in a TomTom.

  5. alain williams Silver badge

    I don't want my car to try to sell me things

    or log where I go to and use that for marketing reasons.

    I wonder if there are any Model T Fords still around ... they should be safe from this madness.

    1. cookieMonster

      Re: I don't want my car to try to sell me things

      Buy a Renault, anything electronic in it will stop working soon enough, so your privacy is more or less secure.

  6. Oldfogey


    Currently looking for a mid-90's Defender, possibly V8 petrol. No electronics of any sort, not a single processor of any sort. No reason it should evr be unrepairable.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: KISS

      I'd go with the 4 in-line. I've never owned/driven a V8 version myself, but I've been told the extra torque is barely noticeable but it's thirst is rather shocking. Personally I'm saving up for a nice Series II or III. (If Series II I'd swap the gearbox for a 3 series, because synchromesh, the springs for coils or at least parabolics and the brakes for disks. Makes so much difference for useability)

    2. quxinot

      Re: KISS

      I'm fine with paying money for a car that does what I need it to do. Wish the "infotainment" (used to be a radio, eh?) was simply easily replaced. Then I could update it as needed without some ghastly abomination glaring back at me.

      It'd be neat if a maker of a fairly modest car decided to make an enthusiast's version, where the fancy electrical crap was turned down, and you could get useful stuff like larger brakes, better suspension, and so forth--without paying twice the car's base value. In the same way that a radio delete was an option on old American muscle cars from the 60's.

  7. Fenton

    Android auto or Apple Car

    I've given up on the built in SatNav, even on the new car. Most car systems are now Android Auto or apple car compatible, with Waze now available as an Android Auto enabled app (Yippeeee)

    1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

      Re: Android auto or Apple Car

      It really doesn't have to be that sophisticated - just give me something that will screen repeat my phone. Then anything my phone can do my car can do, and my car has little/nothing to do with making it happen.

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