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The underscore: A giveaway for trouble

2 min read

Written by: Luc Brandts

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You know you’re in trouble when you’re driving in your car and some text pops up on your screen saying X_Host_Mode. In this case, along with no less than two underscores, there are more indications for trouble: the capital X and the words “Host” and “Mode.” They have no use in the real world, and in normal operation, one would never see it.

And of course, Apple CarPlay isn’t working. Now, in my car*, this is actually quite normal. A guestimated 20-30% of connection attempts fail. Retrying sometimes works, patience also works, but much less frequently (a general observation). Which means no audiobooks, worse navigation, and no online music. Nothing dramatic, but certainly a severe drop in quality. Most software quality issues in the car can be traced back to some integration issue. It seems that integrating Apple CarPlay into the car’s software has proven to be a challenge. Maybe it’s that X_Host_Mode? Integrations are often a challenge, sometimes for connectivity reasons, sometimes for deep architectural reasons, but another reason is also related to responsibility. The makers of my car will probably point to Apple, whereas the Apple engineers probably say that “It works in other cars.”

Keeping things simple – and making sure legacy software is adequately architected and engineered to easily integrate with other technology – is a challenge. But when I keep getting strange messages and a messy experience, it’s something I’d really like to recommend actually implementing. It can be done (“It works in other cars”), but you may need help.

*I won’t mention the brand. It’s a great car, though with crappy software. But this isn’t about the car, this is a much broader issue.


Luc Brandts

Group CEO

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