Multimedia systems: Always on
Mercedes-Benz has now integrated the iPhone® comprehensively into the user experience of the new
. Drivers will now have access to all of the key content of their iPhone®. This content can be viewed via the in-vehicle display and the device operated via the controller on the centre armrest, all of which is made possible thanks to the Drive Kit Plus for the iPhone® and an app concept developed by Daimler in-house. In addition, with COMAND Online drivers can enjoy a fully integrated multimedia system, while with the Audio 5 USB (standard) and the Audio 20 CD there is a choice of two audio systems to suit every budget.
With the seamless integration of the iPhone® into the vehicle in conjunction with the new revolutionary user interface design, Mercedes-Benz is able to offer the Facebook generation a natural home on four wheels in the new A-Class. In addition to Facebook, Twitter and so on, the Drive Kit Plus for the iPhone® together with Daimler’s app concept, is able to bring other digital lifestyle services and content into the vehicle. The highlights include:
- Personalised internet radio by AUPEO! Personal Radio, which offers radio stations that compile an individual program for listeners and recommends similar music by genre or artists based on personal taste
- Siri voice control system
- The advanced navigation software from Garmin, with internet-based real-time traffic information, online POI searches and 3D map display, all of which work even in combination with the entry-level multimedia system Audio 20
- A socially interactive experience involving “sharing”, “posting” and the integration of music and other content from social networks including text-to-speech
- An intuitive “car finder” which automatically stores the vehicle’s
location. Pedestrian navigation makes it completely easy to find your way back to the car
New here is also the contextual and location-based display of menu content under the headings “Social”, “Media” and “Places”. The basic logic behind this was presented by Daimler for the first time in January of this year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Appearing under the heading “Social”, for example, are the various friends and latest news from the social networks.
The user interface design is unique and revolutionary. Transparent symbols are illuminated in red to create three-dimensionally arranged navigation levels. Within the three-dimensional illustration provided by this menu structure, the user can move intuitively between the various functions in fluid, animated transitions. The user interface concept was designed and implemented by
designers and engineers in the Mercedes-Benz research and development centre in Palo Alto, California/USA. Enlarging the display of content on the screen to an appropriate format for use in a vehicle and allowing it to be controlled through the ergonomically positioned Controller on the centre armrest makes operating the system both safe and easy.
The iPhone® is connected through an interface developed by Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH. This allows content to be fed directly from the graphics output of the device to the display of the vehicle. At the same time, the iPhone® is both powered and charged automatically while it is being used.
Full iPhone® integration is not only possible in conjunction with the COMAND Online multimedia system. All functions, including navigation, can also be used even with the entry-level Audio 20 system.
Overview of other multimedia systems
COMAND Online also offers internet access. Customers can either surf the web as they wish while the car is stationary or call up a Mercedes-Benz app whose particularly fast page loading and simple operation make it suitable for use while driving. Integrated apps include Google™ Local Search and Weather and the facility for downloading a route which has previously been configured on a PC using Google Maps and transmitted to the car. In addition, apps for Google™ Streetview and Google™ Panoramio are available for COMAND Online. Streetview enables locations all over the world to be seen in 360-degree perspective views and at street level. Panoramio allows access to millions of photographs which have been taken and uploaded by other uses at locations
all around the globe. Streetview and Panoramio thus provide comprehensive means of studying routes and checking out sights and destinations before embarking on a journey.
A new feature is the “News” app which enables news on politics, finance and technology to be called up online in the vehicle.
Information is displayed in such a way that it is clearly legible while on the move. Further apps, such as stock market news or a parking space finder, can be also be accessed via the Mercedes online shop (shop.mercedes-benz.com).
The high-resolution colour display has a diagonal of 17.8 cm. The basic colour scheme of the central display is silver grey. Photos can be shown on the large screen and turned over manually, as in a slide show. Where the audio equipment is concerned, too, new types of representation bring a fresh look and more convenient operation. The new Cover Flow function, for instance, sorts the title images of the music albums stored in a carousel-like form, so that the A-Class driver can easily leaf through their music collection – even if it is rather on the large side: the memory for compressed audio files (mp3, wma and aac formats) is now 10 GB in size.
Greatest convenience is afforded by the Music Search function, which enables drivers and passengers to search the hard disc, SD memory cards, USB sticks, CDs and DVDs for specific music tracks and artists. The search can be according to various criteria, for instance album, music category or composer. If a name needs to be entered, the software will also tolerate spelling mistakes. The driver is therefore able to devote their full attention to the traffic. As a further advantage, the occupants are able to search all the connected media and devices simultaneously.
The fast hard-disc navigation system of COMAND Online also has added functions. New features include a 3D display with three-dimensional city views. Also new: routes covered can be recorded and repeated later, specific personal destinations can be imported via an SD card and four alternative routes can be displayed on the navigation map, one of them a particularly economical variation. Mercedes-Benz customers in Europe receive the current cards for their COMAND Online multimedia system free of charge for three years. Authorised Mercedes-Benz dealers upload the updates for navigation data in 39 European countries into the navigation system when the customer visits their premises.
In Europe, COMAND Online also comprises Speed Limit Assist, which receives its information for traffic sign recognition via a camera and navigation database. COMAND Online also includes the LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system for audio, telephone and navigation. The new “One Shot” input function for the navigation system is particularly convenient, whereby the place and road can be spoken directly after one another.
This function is currently available in seven languages and significantly enhances ease of operation. With COMAND Online and LINGUATRONIC, music can also be conveniently searched for in the A-Class via voice control. The system first asks in which category it should conduct the search (artist, title, year). The category is selected by saying it or by saying the row number of the relevant category which appears on the screen. This is then followed by further questions about title, artist or album.
Fitted as standard is the Audio 5 USB unit. In addition to an AM/FM tuner and an audio amplifier, it features a built-in three-line display. Portable storage media can be connected via the USB and AUX connectors in the centre console. A pre-installation option for iPhone® with hands-free function is also available as an optional extra for the Audio 5 system. If the iPhone® is connected to the vehicle via a cradle then the radio is muted during telephone calls. The mobile’s battery is charged via the vehicle’s on-board power supply.
The Audio 20 CD system has a twin tuner, mp3-capable CD player and a USB connector in the centre console. The colour display has a diagonal of 14.7 cm.
Thanks to a “cover art” function the title images of the music albums currently being played are shown if their details are stored in the audio file.
A top line in the Audio 20 CD’s menu navigation makes orientation easier and can be operated via the controller. The settings for the air conditioning are also displayed on the telematics screen (when in use), as is the fuel consumption over the past 15 minutes. The Bluetooth functions have also been extended: the mobile’s phone book can now be automatically transferred en bloc when
connected, and wireless music reproduction is possible from Bluetooth-capable terminals. Plus text messages can also be displayed. As an optional extra the Audio 20 CD can be combined with a 6-disc CD changer, Media Interface, Harman/Kardon® sound system, Convenience Telephony in the armrest, digital radio (DAB) and the new Becker® MAP PILOT entry-level navigation solution.
The Becker® MAP PILOT makes a low-cost navigation function, which is also suitable for retrofitting, available for the Audio 20 CD radio. Its advantages over aftermarket solutions include integrated operation via the central controls, voice output via the vehicle’s loudspeakers and display on the Audio 20 screen, a concealed location in the glove compartment and updating and expansion options via an internet portal.
Mercedes-Benz developed the “Logic7” surround sound system together with audio specialists harman/kardon®. Based on technology never before seen in a car, this high-end system delivers three-dimensional sound as a natural 360-degree musical experience for all passengers. The audio signals are distributed via a 450-watt multi-channel DSP amplifier connected to twelve high-performance loudspeakers. In conjunction with COMAND Online a multichannel listening experience with Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS is possible.
The Media Interface is available as an optional extra. The universal interface enables mobile audio devices such as an mp3 player or iPod® to be connected to the vehicle’s telematics system. These devices are then operated via the head unit, the central control unit or the steering wheel buttons. By making use of USB 2.0, the new generation of the Media Interface provides quicker display and extended data selection.
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