How the iPad ate the auto show displayS

Two years ago, video displays at auto shows were beginning to look like iPhone interfaces. This year at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the transformation is complete. Gone are the custom video panels and touchscreen PC’s: pretty much every manufacturer has ditched them for a line of iPads.

Some mount them in custom cases, some don’t, but this photo—taken at Toyota’s hall for the sake of continuity—could have been taken anywhere. Most of the machines run in-house apps which show animations and video.

In-car interfaces are notoriously hideous. Perhaps this is the first sign of the industry recognizing that while they know the ins and outs of making cars, computer interfaces are an entirely other discipline.

But that said, how many of these automakers, who seem to grasp the utility of iPads on their auto show stands — will be actually finding a creative way of working them into their actual cars. We've already seen Hyundai's aborted attempt to offer the owner's manual for the Equus luxury sedan, and many automakers are contemplating iPad apps, but who's doing real integration? Nobody.

Hell, we're still waiting for someone to do a full iPhone integration that doesn't suck or cost an arm and a leg as a ticked check box. So which automaker will be the first to step up to the challenge of true Apple-automaker infotainment intercourse?

So more than likely, automakers use the iPads because of their minimalistic design and out of a hope that the patina of hipster coolness will rub off on them. That's the only reason we can see Toyota using it.

How else do you explain that the most advanced connectivity options some of Toyota's cars have — until they fully implement their new enTune infotainment system — is still just an aux input jack?