Unlike Maps, Apple TV and Apple Watch, Cupertino can’t ship Apple Car as an unmarked beta

“Tesla is hot. It’s CEO is hot. I do, however, have some cause for concern,” Michael Gartenberg writes for iMore.

“Recently we’ve seen reports of at least two crashes attributable to Tesla’s ‘autopilot’ or ‘autonomous’ feature. Tesla says the feature is in beta. Beta software has a clear definition. Or it used to,” Gartenberg writes. “Time has changed, and the meanings differ. Beta software though still means ‘not finished.’ It still means ‘buggy.'”

“The problem I have is simple. If Gmail crashed in beta for you’re my life wasn’t affected. My life wasn’t in danger. Not so much with Tesla’s an their autonomous modes (that really aren’t autonomous). If you engage it, as many do, click through all the legalese, and then decide to take your hands off the wheel, that’s now my problem too. You see, we share public roads,” Gartenberg writes. “It’s hard to imagine Apple releasing any automotive feature that wasn’t considered finished, though. Done. Complete. That’s probably the best reason to think we won’t see an Apple car anytime soon. ”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “It just works” is critical for Apple Car’s success if its main selling point is autonomous driving. Even if it’s not the main point of Apple Car – if it’s energy efficiency or ride-sharing or something else – Apple should not ship this one until it’s ready for prime time from day one – unlike many products under CEO Tim Cook, including Maps, Apple TV (4th gen., no less) and Apple Watch.

31 Comments

  1. First Apple Cars will probably not auto-drive but focus on energy use and other driver enhancements. Real dependable & safe auto-drive won’t be truly good enough for another 5-10 years. Better AI needs to come along to correctly interpret the crazy maneuvers of real people driving in the wild.

    That said would you really trust any car to drive itself on windy mountain roads with perilous & fatal drops on the side? Yikes.

    1. It’s only a step up from things like traction control and all kinds of other features that help people have a smoother ride in otherwise more perilous conditions. A true expert driver might do better with these things turned off, but experts are few and far between. It someone smashes into you it doesn’t matter if you’re driving or the car is, you’ve been hit. The thing is, the other automated car wouldn’t let its driver smash into you in the first place.

    2. Is either:

      From another planet.

      Suicidal.

      Been off the grid for the last 5-years.

      A dilusional, gay MDN fanboy who refuses to admit that Cook is an incompetent f*ckup because he, after all, is one of their own.

      Here comes the Apple Watch of cars. I know the lawyers will be happy because there will be lawsuits galore!

      1. “Here comes the Apple Watch of cars. I know the lawyers will be happy because there will be lawsuits galore!”

        Personal injury lawyers are scared shitless. Even in “beta” autonomous cars are 30% safer than human operated cars.

        Personal injury lawyers are looking at a massive drop in business in the next 5 years.

      2. How’s it been goin’ living in that basement closet One Note Joe from Doofus, MO? Didn’t your Mom upstairs ever tell you “if you can’t say anything nice about someone then don’t say anything at all.” But then that would muzzle pretty much everything you say wouldn’t it?

        1. I tell you what, I agree with much of what ‘Anyone who…’ says (and I’m aware that he uses other names) but NOT how he says it. Not at all.

          However, what stops me from seeing your view as balanced Mr. ‘peterblood71’ is the sheer level of vitriol and spite in your replies.
          You’re both just as bad; both hateful, both angry and both incapable of rational discourse. The moment anyone lights your (short) fuse you blow up.
          “One Note Joe from Doofus, MO…”
          Yeah, that’s not exactly a convincing rebuttal.

          What you two are is a microcosm of the larger culture.
          It’s a lot of shouting and name calling and very little intelligent debate.
          I just wish you people would grow up.

          1. Obviously you don’t know the history of this Joe (his real name as far as we can tell) idiot who spews constant anti-Tim Cook vitriol under various names but his moronic style is a dead giveaway. Once you know the facts you’ll know this is not an isolated affront to this web site. I don’t suffer fools like this particularly well so dear Joe gets it with both barrels in the face the moment he shows his sorry hateful ass around here from me and others. Your concern is misguided in this case. It’s return treatment more than earned & directed at the sad little case we call “One Note Joe.” (For obvious repetitious reasons.)

            1. You don’t ‘suffer fools’ you look for them. More to the point, you are one of them, if a “fool” is one who, as you say, spews hate.
              Do you ever read your own posts??

              That’s what I don’t understand about online bickering. Both combatants are as bad as the other.
              It’s pretty pathetic you have to admit, and I’m making it my concern as this is an Apple fan forum and I thought we were better that that.

              Incidentally, I remember the days of ‘Zune Tang’ and I have read just about every comment this Cook hater has posted. Who cares what he thinks?!

            2. So you’re the self-appointed moral overseer of the Internet passing judgment and in the process showing you’re own foolish self-righteous superciliousness? I’ve never looked for fools but I sure don’t suffer them either.

              Apparently you DON’T read my posts. If you truly knew my posts you know that 95% of them are like others here and consist of commentary on Apple, my own experiences or tech in general. The other 5% are addressing malcontents and the sadly misinformed mewling quim like you. I am happy to have civil conversations with other civil posters and in fact that’s most of the time. But as you should know, unless you’re 8 years old, there are always errant tech misanthrope’s lurking who’s only raison d’être is to disrupt. I believe they’re more colloquially known as “Trolls.”

              Zune Tang has either gone or under another identity. He wasn’t tolerated either and neither will the One Note Joe types who disrupt without offering up anything salient to the conversation. As a result he don’t get no respect, just scathing rebuke.

              I don’t give a flying fuck what you think about me. You have an obvious problem differentiating correctly and only an ability to look at something at surface value. My experience with those who attempt to place themselves on moral high ground are the most likely to be the biggest hypocrites.

            3. I figured some hapless illiterate moron with a third grade vocabulary would show up to show his sad literary ignorance, or at least anything beyond monosyllabic understanding. You didn’t disappoint.

              Oh and it’s One Note Joe! Who do you think you’re kidding you troll oafish buffoon? Your entire post here is a clumsily calculated and childish steaming POS scrawling that isn’t wanted or needed here – EVER. And neither are you, YOU are the gawddamn problem.

              So get lost sonny and go back into your Tim Cook hating closet. Hilarious how you can’t stop and even betray yourself with such “clever” repartee as “Tim Cook loving, cock-sucking faggot.” Gee who can THAT be? Can you even walk upright without falling all over yourself?

            4. Expressing dissatisfaction is one thing, being a total asshole about it quite another. You and the Joe’s here should be ashamed of your juvenile behavior in that regard.

              Oh and thanks for the two-bit psychoanalysis. Unfortunately you are no doubt barely qualified for latrine cleanup duty let alone professional mental health guidance which I suspect you could use much more than I.

              The growing up is all on you and your childish ilk. You’re the one with the infantile & vitriolic character assassination BS on Cook – adding nothing to the proceedings. And you are not an astute judge of character in any case, suggesting that you know better, in your simplistic thinking processes, that simply tossing out Tim Cook will solve all your complaints without any idea of the repercussions of doing so. If Apple stops making a gajillion dollars not based on simply a bad market across the board then the Apple Board will do your dirty work. Until then do us all the best favor and STFU.

  2. This is so bogus. All features come with limitations. It was not the failure of anything to do with Tesla’s software. Nothing can detect missing lines or glaring white sun reflections or a multitude of other things. No software (not even the software inside you head) can guarantee 100% against a crash. That’s why there needs to be some awareness from the DRIVER. Otherwise there would be no progress.

    How many people die because they stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake? How many die because the cruse control went haywire on a steep slope. How many die because the cruse control didn’t work well on snow?

    There are always limitations! With everything!

    1. I don’t know. I think there is an inherent problem with the the way self driving features are being handled right now. It think that it is unrealistic for Tesla (or any other car company) to say that this is a driver assist feature but that the driver must still stay in control. Either it can drive itself 100% or it can’t. If you let the car drive, at what point do you realize the car doesn’t see the truck coming at you and you override? If the car doesn’t see the truck, you get no warning and you get hit. If you think it is autonomous and trust that the car sees it, you wait until the last second before you realize you’re screwed and get hit anyway.

      I think the only way this really works in the long run is when all the vehicles ob the road are autonomous and can talk to each other electronically. I just don’t know how you bridge things to that point from where we are now.

    2. I agree with Paul. And the article is made up of a good heaping of baloney. Autopilot is nothing more than a 2 part driver assistance program, with the first part being adaptive cruise/speed control (many cars have it), coupled with an ability to keep a moving vehicle within a driving lane (which has limitations). The driver always must maintain control of the vehicle. It’s just totally misleading to imply that people mistake autopilot for fully autonomous driving or to say that if a crash happens it’s because the not-fully-autonomous-driver-assist features are “beta”. That’s just rank FUD. After 140 million autopilot-assisted miles driven there has now been a single case of a fatal accident – that’s a heck of a lot better record than than the average fatality rate without using any driver assist.

      1. I, for one, would feel safer with “beta” autonomous cars on the road than I do humans. To date Tesla’s “beta” autonomous car is 30% safer than human operated cars.

        If you want to discuss the dangers of “beta” you must include drivers under the age of 25.

        This is a bullshit article written by aq bullshit click bait writer.

  3. Macs, iPads and Apple Watches can’t kill you in a split second or two.

    Cars can kill you and so, are obviously orders of magnitude more complicated today with hundreds of sensors & and more risky on multiple levels on mega lines of code.

    Apple is tackling the most complicated consumer product on earth and it had better be damn near foolproof. Jets try to be that way and have triple redundant systems for critical items and I suspect AppleAuto will need the same.

  4. From a developer perspective, would someone please offer an example of a problem with more spurious and unforseeable variables than the safe operation of a motor vehicle?

    Betting their brand equity on autonomous operation isn’t reasonable.

  5. The other thing to remember is that there are certain instances where there is nothing you can do to avoid an accident. If a driver decides to change lanes without looking and goes into the side of you then you’re going to be hit. Simple as that. Arguably, the more cars there are with some level of automation (or at least guidance) the less accidents there will be because they won’t let you just smash into someone else.

  6. “The Apple Car in China?” . . . Twenty years from now all cars will be self-driving cars. The question is whether Apple will pursue the “intermediate step,” such as the Tesla car, or pursue Google’s vision of a car with no steering wheel . . . I think a lot of people assume the Tesla idea, because they see Apple as a consumer product company that has to sell products now . . . we view it as a 1 car to 1 owner paradigm . . . But if you think about it, a city of self-driving cars, like automated taxis, is more analogous to a fleet of city buses. The city owns the buses . . . thus, using this “city-owned” concept, Apple could start with a small city in China, and sell them 50,000 self-driving cars (these cars would be used in a downtown area that bans human-driven cars). I see these cars like Kiva robots (see Youtube video) which are centrally controlled, so there are no traffic jams. By Apple selling their cars to “test cities” they can develop the product and AI, sell larger quantities (than if they sold to individual consumers), and become the market leader in self-driving cars.

  7. While I agree with MDN’s main thrust, “Apple should not ship this one until it’s ready for prime time from day one,”, I hope the second half of the statement: “unlike many products under CEO Tim Cook, including Maps, Apple TV (4th gen., no less) and Apple Watch” just means to indicate that these products ARE NOT ready for prime time, as opposed to suggesting that it’s OK for Apple to ship them before they’re ready.

  8. Two fatalities in Teslas, one in Florida and one in Pennsylvania. Use of” AutoPilot” not yet confirmed in either. But it makes such flashy headlines. It would be good to wait for the results of the NTSB investigations of both accidents.

    In the meantime, a third crash in Germany, I think. Driver and son survived an 80mph rollover in a Tesla. Autopilot was not in use, the driver was forced off the road by another vehicle. Headlines never mentioned AutoPilot not being in use.

  9. The only way self driving cars will be reasonably safe on the roads is if the roads they are on are “dedicated” to self driving vehicles where they can interact with each other to keep you safe.

    1. If you were paying attention, Derek, you would realize that Apple and Tesla are doing the same thing with software. They can’t possibly quality test the enormously complex code they have created, so they have beta programs that crowdsource the quality engineering that used to be done almost entirely in-house a decade ago.

      The difference is, Tesla (and many other auto manufacturers!) released the self-driving technology into the wild with the clear caveat that it is an aid, and not to ever rely on it. At no stage of development will autopilot ever be 100% reliable, just ask any airline pilot.

      Apple on the other hand has made a huge turn for the worse since prioritizing the iCloud above all other things. Since that decree, its software has become dumbed down and less intuitive. We now see inefficient, poorly conceived interfaces, nagware like a poorly implemented OS X Gatekeeper or mandatory iOS updates, and a creeping reliance on perfect internet connectivity at all times, which is simply not realistic for many of us.

      The evidence of Apple’s lack of attention to the customer is substantial. Fundamental features that everyone enjoyed in iPhotos or Aperture are gone, replaced by a sales push to rent iCloud servers. That’s a non-starter to photographers who have workflows that include being able to properly edit and archive or securely share projects cross platform.

      It’s almost as though Apple is chasing the amateur millennial market in all things, putting pink computers and pretty watch bands on display instead of keeping up making reliable and powerful software that is intuitive and performance-competitive.

      1. If you were paying attention, Derek blahblahblah…

        You’re talking about something different. I’m talking about Apple providing beta software that can kill you, wreck your car, kill someone else or wreck someone else’s property. That Tesla allowed beta software that enables exactly the above is unwise to the point of lunatic. It’s inviting lawsuits.

        As for Apple letting loose crapcode betaware into the wild, damned right they’re guilty of that! I entirely agree with your points in that respect. But said Apple crapcode is not going to get you killed…

        …Except oh right: The original version of Apple Maps did have that icon of a turn off a highway in Cupertino that directed users to drive off a bridge. 😉

    1. Biggest issue is value.

      The average family cannot justify the increased cost of a hybrid or electric vehicle no matter what the performance is. Most people don’t drive very far in their daily lives.

      Apple is just keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to the dream of putting professional drivers out of work. But it’s a moon shot that just doesn’t make sense today. The economics can’t be denied. Electric or not, autonymous vehicles are too expensive for mainstream car ownership and even for car rental companies. The only area they may make sense are in controlled environments or perhaps cargo transport. The public is puzzled why they are being advertised over-techified vehicles. Most people don’t like or can’t even use the crappy GPS systems already embedded in their cars today — something like a 35% use rate according to some recent surveys.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.