Renault chose LeWeb '11 to announce the launch of their new R-Link tablet device. The tablet will build on the Tom Tom navigation system to offer a completely multimedia app-led experience for consumers. It is due to launch worldwide (excluding the U.S.) at the end of 2012 and it is already looking like an impressive product.
It will run as a touchscreen product with a seven inch screen. I caught up with Renault representative Pierre-Francois Le Faou to get a hands-on demonstration of the tablet, which will look pretty much like the prototype shown below:
An app experience
The R-Link is focused on providing useful and entertaining apps for users and Renault are keen to extend themselves into the developer community. While they are aware of the fact they are not going to compete with the likes of Apple, they do want to offer a compelling app experience and are calling on developers to get involved.
The software developer kit is due to launch at the beginning of 2012 and according to Renault, they are looking for others 'outside the industry' to innovate and add to the product. The screens below show the current app system works on the tablet, with the standardised app layout:
Email on the go
The R-Link has some nice features that show the product is being developed in a unique way, which will likely answer a lot of critics who may argue that drivers should focus on driving and not on playing with apps. Their email client for example, allows you to scan through your emails as normal, but if you are driving, it will recognise this and read your emails out loud to you:
RSS on the go
The tablet is currently programmed with the Metro (a French newspaper) which is available in RSS format, but users will be able to add any RSS feed to get news on the go.
A really nice feature on the R-Link is the community-led parking app Apila. Currently a service based in Paris, it allows you to connect with other people when you are waiting for a parking space to see which are available. It will notify you of a nearby parking space that someone may be leaving and will alert you within a three minute window. Though the initiative is certainly innovative, it will likely be a long time before there is enough uptake to render the service userful.
So far the R-Link tablet looks pretty impressive, with some intuitive features that could lead to safer driving, such as their anti-sleep app, which alerts you to when you might be feeling tired or should take a rest. Given that it's a full year since the launch, this could be a game-changer.