What can help you to go from one point to the other? A Car! And what can make sure that your drive is enjoyable and you reach the destination easily? An Infotainment System! What exactly is an infotainment system, you may ask! It is a system that uses the hardware and the software inside the car to equip the occupants with information as well as entertainment, das INFO-TAINMENT! But it was not all touchscreens and keypads when the Indian automotive industry was in the cradle. Let’s take a look at the transition of infotainment systems.

Early years of Indian automotive industry – The 1950s

India just got its independence. People started to explore the world of cars. And with this came the need for some in-car system that would make the rides better. So at the very early stages, the car was either not at all equipped with any sort of system or had a radio fitted which would play some channels after setting the right frequency. Talking about the information part, there was no such thing and no such need at that time.

1980s – Cassette Players became popular

Cassette Player In Old Maruti
Cassette Player In Old Maruti

The rectangular device with reel, you must have seen your father’s collection of cassettes with song names written on it. The pre-recorded cassettes became popular due to their quality of audio. So the cars had to be equipped with a system that would be able to play songs using cassettes. Around the globe, some cars started to have on-board navigation but in India, this was still decades ahead. Cassette players with Radio FM/AM support became common across the cars running in India. And for the cars which were not given this privilege, aftermarket had some players ready.

2000s – the arrival of the CD Player

Santro's entertainment system
CD Player on a Hyundai Santro

CD drives or the Compact Discs became a new thing by the end of the 20th century. But the automobile companies in India at that time were not equipping the cars with this tech from the factory. The credit of making the car drives pleasant at that time goes to companies like Pioneer which came up with a system that could be fitted into the cars. These systems would go into the empty slots of the car’s dashboard. If you are wondering that why were there slots in the dashboard, globally infotainment systems were becoming common and carmakers in India knew that people here will also want the same. So these systems were offered in an optional package with the car.

2010 onwards – Touchscreens come into play

VW Jetta's Touchscreen Infotainment System
VW Jetta’s Touchscreen Infotainment System

The soft-touch buttons and dials were becoming absolute. The world was evolving so were the systems inside the car. Phones were evolving with more and more touchscreens getting common. The entertainment systems in some high-end cars like Volkswagen Jetta were now touchscreens. CD Players with analogue screens were common in the cars now. Although, it was still not offered as standard in most of the cars.

In the late 2010s, the touchscreens became more and more common. Now, one could connect his/her phone via Bluetooth. But with more and more mobile phones becoming Android compatible, there was a need for the more advanced infotainment system. In late 2014, Hitachi brought India’s first Android-based connected car infotainment system. Note that this does not mean that the system supported Android Auto.

Mahindra XUV500 Infotainment System with Android Auto Support
Mahindra XUV500 Infotainment System with Android Auto Support

The first car in India to feature the Android Auto was the Mahindra XUV500, back in 2015. Apple CarPlay was still going to come after some time. Maruti Suzuki’s Baleno was the first car to feature Android Auto as well as Apple CarPlay.

Infotainment Systems Now

MG Hector's Infotainment System
MG Hector’s Infotainment System

With so many advancements in technology, infotainment systems in cars nowadays have become really advanced. With connected car techs like geo-fencing, smart navigation systems, voice-activated commands, Over-The-Air (OTA) updates and much more, infotainment systems are now more focused to make the drives secure as well as pleasurable. 7″ to 12″ touchscreens have become common in most of the cars nowadays. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also seen in most of the systems.

Take a look: Tata Nexon EV To Get 35 Connected Car Features

Now you can even get vital information about your car’s systems such as tyre pressure, engine temperature, fluid levels and much more at a tap inside your car, all thanks to the advanced infotainment systems in cars.

With the advancements going on day after day, this tech will only get better from here. What are your views about the current infotainment systems? Are they just a gimmick? Do you like the retro ones with minimal information? Let us know in the comments section below.

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