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Audi Connect - what's the point?

 
Old 11-01-2016, 05:14 PM
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Default Audi Connect - what's the point?

Hey there,

I have a 2016 Q5 and apparently the free 6-month trial of the AT&T SIM card/Audi Connect have run out as the internet no longer works.

I was using the wifi hotspot in the car to stream my Pandora and Spotify and just generally connecting my phone via the wifi instead of through 4G.

Question for you Audi Connect fans out there: What is even the point of it? I must be missing something about this much touted (by Audi) feature.

First off, I never use the navigation. The interface is unbelievably crappy even when using Google Earth (which I dislike using on my phone or computer - I prefer the 2D view - satellite/Google earth view is harder to read).

I was transported back to the early 2000s when I first tried to use nav and instead prefer my Android phone (mounted on a cheap holder) where I can just ask Google to take me places - works so so much better than the Audi nav and I prefer the UI and the way it works on my phone so much better.

Regarding the hotspot I just don't see the advantage here either. I have unlimited data on my phone so I can stream away all I like. There is no reason to use the AT&T wifi hotspot. If I had a limited data plan, sure I could maybe see the value (though you still have to pay for it - not sure if it would be a net gain or not).

I see from Audi's site that there's an MMI app that one can install on their phone. Any value in this or just another useless gimmick?

Lastly I see there is a feature called Google Voice Search. When I bought the car this is exactly what I imagined: That the car would work like my phone and easily understand my voice commands and that MMI screen would look and act like my phone.

But instead I get voice commands where I have to talk super slow, confirm a number of extraneous steps, and still have problems. I literally never use it. Sheesh, even the stupid button on the steering wheel has to be pressed just the right way to activate.

Sorry for the negative nancy post but, really, this Audi Connect stuff was outdated the day it came out. Am I missing something?
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Old 11-02-2016, 10:20 AM
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I think if you have the wrong expectations and try it to be something it's not, then you probably won't find any value in it.

However, if you use it for what it is, then you might find it useful. I find it useful in particular together with the MMI phone app. Smartphones are great as a personal device that you carry around and use on the go, but the UI and form factor is really not optimized for in-car use. Personally, having to mount a phone with an ugly dash mount and having to plug it in, combined with the tiny display and limited offline capabilities is way worse than what the MMI has to offer.

I prefer the MMI mostly because of its integrated nature, decent size legible display and that it still works w/o a hitch if I'm driving around on the California backroads where cell phone coverage is sparse or non-existant.

The MMI connect app on my iPhone allows me to look up places in apps such as Apple Maps, Google Maps, Yelp etc. and then simply share the location with the car for convenient navigation once I'm in the car, or I can grab the calendar appointment for my next meeting and share it with the car to easily navigate to the meeting location. All w/o having to fumble with an external device once I'm in the car. I also like to have the map up at all times even if I'm not navigating to see traffic etc. around me and I use the Google Earth overlays as I like seeing a more real world representation of my environment.

To each their own. I find Audi connect a complementing service that brings the car into the fold of my connected devices. It's not perfect, but used in the right way, it's useful IMO. In the absence of Apple Car Play and/or Android Auto, I have no desire to regularly use my phone for navigation in the car and so far I'm not particularly impressed with the above platforms either. You still end up having to work around their limitations.
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Old 11-02-2016, 12:12 PM
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It's a little hard to find good, objective descriptions of what you "get" from these various goodies...

The MMI Connect app is weird, it does NOT locate your car, and there is no "manual" for it. I do see that, because the address entry system in the car is so clunky and, just, well, stupid (My 2014 Fiat 500 does a better job), that sending destinations from the phone to the car nav is probably a great idea.

Having Internet in the car is not a big deal, all my mobile devices have Internet already.

I'm getting a Truphone SIM and will see how the Audi Connect is useful. I think I'll find some things I like.

Greg
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Old 11-02-2016, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Greg Elmassian View Post
It's a little hard to find good, objective descriptions of what you "get" from these various goodies...

The MMI Connect app is weird, it does NOT locate your car, and there is no "manual" for it. I do see that, because the address entry system in the car is so clunky and, just, well, stupid (My 2014 Fiat 500 does a better job), that sending destinations from the phone to the car nav is probably a great idea.

Having Internet in the car is not a big deal, all my mobile devices have Internet already.

I'm getting a Truphone SIM and will see how the Audi Connect is useful. I think I'll find some things I like.

Greg
For me it's not necessarily the clunky way of entering an address directly into the system, although I usually use voice command and just speak the entire address if I do need to do that. Works pretty well and is IMO the best method to enter an address directly. However, most of the time I know where I need to go before I even get into the car. I probably looked up the place ahead of time in Google Maps on my PC or on my phone or I put it on my calendar, and I really don't wanna have to manually enter or speak the address into the system, when I can just simply send it to the car while I'm looking at it.

Similarly, if I have a change of plans, I can use Google Local Voice search to find a new destination w/o taking my hands off the wheel and eyes off the road with a simple voice command such as "Google search Pharmacy".
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Last edited by superswiss; 11-02-2016 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 11-03-2016, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by superswiss View Post
I think if you have the wrong expectations and try it to be something it's not, then you probably won't find any value in it.
Yes. This is what happened. When I test drove the car and was informed about the Google capabilities I imagined a NAV system that would work as good as Google and a NAV screen that would look as good as my Android phone (not like a NAV from a 2001).

Originally Posted by superswiss View Post
However, if you use it for what it is, then you might find it useful. I find it useful in particular together with the MMI phone app. Smartphones are great as a personal device that you carry around and use on the go, but the UI and form factor is really not optimized for in-car use. Personally, having to mount a phone with an ugly dash mount and having to plug it in, combined with the tiny display and limited offline capabilities is way worse than what the MMI has to offer.
I see your point but am going to have my phone mounted on a holder anyway as I check emails, etc. on my commute to work.


Originally Posted by superswiss View Post
To each their own. I find Audi connect a complementing service that brings the car into the fold of my connected devices. It's not perfect, but used in the right way, it's useful IMO. In the absence of Apple Car Play and/or Android Auto, I have no desire to regularly use my phone for navigation in the car and so far I'm not particularly impressed with the above platforms either. You still end up having to work around their limitations.
Yep. Understood. It's just, to me, very disappointing that in 2016 buying a $60K car you still get crap for technology while at the same time Android improves every year. Why can't they just make the freaking MMI/Audi Connect an Android tablet? How wonderful would that be?

Google voice commands have evolved to the point where you can mumble "Call Crutchfield customer service" and it will look up the number and dial it for you. Same thing with "Find a mexican restaurant near me." And so forth.

It saddens me that I never use the voice commands in my car or Audi connect because it is so worthless and instead exclusively use my phone for all the things that I imagined Audi Connect/MMI would do.

Again, outdated the day it came out.
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Old 11-03-2016, 07:43 AM
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^ There's a bigger point here. No, I don't think the MMI should be just an Android tablet or an iPad or whatever one's preferred flavor is. The MMI like others are purposefully targeted experiences. Checking your email on your commute, really? Please don't! You can do that once you own a fully autonomous car, but until then your job behind the wheel is to drive and pay attention to your surroundings and unless you have two independent pairs of eyes, that ain't happening while you are checking your email.

The driver seat is not your office or living room lounge, this seat comes with certain responsibilities. I don't miss most of the capabilities that my other devices have, because I don't need to perform any of these functions while I'm driving.

If your commute takes too much out of your day, you should probably make a change somewhere else.

BTW, "Find a mexican restaurant near me." works just fine with the MMI. Just press the voice command button and say "Google search Find a mexican restaurant near me.". Everything after "Google search" gets interpreted by Google. Much of that command is redundant, though, because Google Local Voice already automatically searches near you so you can just say "Google search mexican restaurant", but if you wanna search outside of your area you can say something like "Google search mexican restaurant in San Francisco".

Last edited by superswiss; 11-03-2016 at 08:09 AM.
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Old 11-03-2016, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by superswiss View Post
^ There's a bigger point here. No, I don't think the MMI should be just an Android tablet or an iPad or whatever one's preferred flavor is. The MMI like others are purposefully targeted experiences. Checking your email on your commute, really? Please don't! You can do that once you own a fully autonomous car, but until then your job behind the wheel is to drive and pay attention to your surroundings and unless you have two independent pairs of eyes, that ain't happening while you are checking your email.

The driver seat is not your office or living room lounge, this seat comes with certain responsibilities. I don't miss most of the capabilities that my other devices have, because I don't need to perform any of these functions while I'm driving.
Please be assured I do not fiddle with my phone when the car is moving. Only at stoplights I'll quickly swipe and scan my emails.

Trust me - the last thing I want is to have a fender bender with my baby. It is as perfect as it was the day it left the lot.

I drive very cautiously. I park the car out in the boonies to avoid dings. And, heck, you'd probably have a good laugh at me when I parallel park - I am super paranoid about getting even a nick on my wheels (from curb rash).

In any event, I love my car and it is exemplary in most respects. I just think I was misled or I misunderstood about the whole Google/wifi/MMI thing.

BTW, using my phone for navigation has another benefit I just realized: It is more of a heads up position as opposed to looking down at the MMI screen thereby making me a safer driver.

I bet you appreciate that.
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Old 11-03-2016, 11:03 AM
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If you can't imagine the ways the MMI and Voice control can integrate with the features of Audi Connect, than paying for a plan is probably not for you. For me, having voice activated, online destinations integrated with a large screen and not having to fumble with my phone are alone worth the price of admission. Others may not find these valuable in which case, don't spend the money.
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Old 11-08-2016, 03:30 PM
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I just had my 6month trial on my 2017 q7 expire. We live in the city and use the car mostly on the weekends. 200$ for 6 months for google maps and traffic is just obscene. Especially since I already pay att 200$ a month for a bunch of phones. And I would love to say car play was a good fix but it doesn't connect 1/2 the time. Any solutions out there ?
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Old 11-08-2016, 06:11 PM
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My Truphone sim is working fine for the google maps and the online destination features. Will try sending a destination to the car this weekend.

Should be a lot cheaper than the official sims/plans... shows 3g all the time

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