I started writing this blog from the passenger seat of my car, as my friend and I drove from New Jersey to Texas. I could have posted the entire thing to this site from my car, too, if I had bought a refill card for my T-Mobile hotspot. I also could have typed up this post on my phone and used my phone’s LTE to get it online.
That same phone served as GPS navigation for the entire 1,700-mile route. It also let us stream Spotify the entire way down (well, almost … thanks, pockets of no service in rural areas) as well as FXX to watch Every. Simpsons. Ever. when we stopped to get food. It also let me book hotels from the road and find quick places to eat just off the highway (aka places that weren’t Subway or McDonald’s or Wendy’s, which are all apparently located at every exit on every highway in America).
You could say the trip demonstrated how many items our phones have replaced (which Shelly discusses every year at CES as he tours the North Hall on a guided tour), but I saw it as an indication of how far travel tech has come.
Multitasking is so easy on smartphones these days that a physical GPS unit is almost irrelevant. (I haven’t used mine in years.) Why have a separate device when your phone can tell you where to go, while also streaming music and letting a passenger find your next stop?
Maps? Forget about maps! We don’t need no stinkin’ maps! Sure, if the grid were to go down, the book of maps I have wedged in the back of my car somewhere will be handy, but for now it’s just scrap paper.
The scary / cool thing is that in a few years, the trip I just took will look antiquated from a tech perspective. The race to connect your car is in on. Soon, needing a phone (or a device at all) to get from Point A to Point B will be irrelevant. Everything will be built in your dash.
You’ll only need to worry about that if you’re the one driving your car in two or three years. (You probably will be; there’s too much red tape that Google and other companies working on autonomous cars are going to have to get through to get a road-ready model on the showroom floor in two years.) But in five years? Ten? Forget needing a phone, or a dashboard-embedded GPS – just tell your car where to go and you’ll be there.
Now THAT’S what I call a road trip.