Car software is hard, so why do we do it?

Writing software for cars is hard. Processors are generations behind mobile phones. Compute/network platforms are byzantine and fractured within/across OEMs. OS environments/toolchains are clunky/archaic. Internet connectivity is unavailable, intermittent, and costly.

Long OEM production cycles are fundamentally inconsistent with modern agile software cycles. OEMs aren’t excited about having more software. Security requirements are tough, durability/reliability requirements are tougher. There are substantial regulatory issues.

Nothing is easy, every line of code we ship seems to take a herculean effort. So why do we do it? There certainly must be easier hills to climb.

Well, cars are iconic products in our society. We use them every day, we spend an incredible amount of time in them. Our friends and family all use them, and when we do something right in them, everyone we care about will notice.

And there is plenty of room to do better. The user experience for software and services is not good today. With a very few exceptions, people don’t like their in-car experience.

We are in the “feature phone” period of car UX; Xevo and other companies working to open up the car software and data platforms to 1000s of apps, and open up the environment to the kind of continuous iteration that has driven advances in mobile and cloud software.

And the opportunity for innovation and learning is great. We are working on deeply interesting UX problems and distributed processing problems that are unique to the automotive space today, but have very broad applicability.

Figuring out how to do engaging distraction-free apps, how to partition processing across widely-distributed networks of untrusted vehicles, how to monetize data while protecting privacy — these are all interesting and fascinating and are being driven by the automotive environment.

And that is what attracts us — the chance to make big changes in the auto experience, the chance to learn and work on great problems, the chance to work with great like-minded people. If you know of anyone who might be excited about the challenges, please introduce them!