For 10 years, I have been writing about and taking the bullhorn to the mountain to talk about automotive software and the benefits of over-the-air updates. For three years, I have been writing about and taking the bullhorn to the mountain to talk about automotive software and the benefits of validating what happens when there is an over-the-air update.

This week, I experienced what happens when an update is not validated and found myself at the epicenter of the unknown. I have a swanky new 2021 SUV. This model is no longer a boxy vehicle like previous models – it is sleek and fun and has many of the infotainment, ADAS and connectivity features we talk about on a daily basis in the automotive industry.

When I first bought the car, I could say, “Call Mike,” and Mike was soon on the line. Now, I say “Call Mike,” and I get the response – “Ok, let me help you with that. I need some more information. Look at the notification on your device.”

“Looking at my device,” forces distracted driving and is obviously not recommended. This prompt goes against every goal of bringing voice assistance into the car. I went to an online consumer OEM support group and read posts noting that this problem started in November 2021. With yes – an over-the-air update.

I’m sure the update did fix some things – or add some things – I don’t know. I do know that the update screwed up my ability to call out by contact name (I can call out by dictating the phone number, but out of my 210 contacts, I know three phone numbers by heart.)

So, after going through many menus, I finally went to the dealer for help.

I met with a super nice support person. He tried – but his conclusion was that it was an Android Auto and phone problem and I had to go to AT&T.

I went to the AT&T store and met with a super nice sales person. He told me he wasn’t certified to help me – he cannot give advice or guidance for anything in the car for liability reasons. He did give me a phone number for the AT&T Advanced Technology Group.

I called the AT&T Advanced Technology Group and another really nice support person told me that her group only works on networking issues to the car – hotspots and things. This AT&T person told me I had to talk to the car manufacturer and sent me to a really nice support person at the OEM who also told me I was again not talking to the right group and he forwarded me to another support group within the OEM.

Here is the kicker – I don’t know if the next support person is really nice. My next conversation was with a phone recording repeating, “My name is Joe. I can’t hear you. Please call back later.”

I do love my new swanky, new SUV. This is my third purchase from this OEM.

I also come from phone company parents – so I’m sure the phone company helped to put me through college.

All of this really nice support and sales people are doing the best they can with the information they have.

I know that we are in the early days of 100 million lines of automotive software code. I also know that validating software behavior throughout the entire car resulting from an over-the-air update is paramount and that the really nice sales and support people from both the automotive companies and the service providers – need to be educated on how to help consumers navigate to success.

For now, I am still at the Epicenter of the Unknown. Please comment if you have any insights or fixes to this ‘call by contact name’ problem.