Do we really need phones in cars?

IF THE car is becoming another internet-connected device, the dashboard has the capacity to become as multi-faceted and fascinating as a phone or tablet.

But at the moment, there's a very real conflict between functionality and safety. More is less. Less is more.

Google has teamed up with GM, Audi, Hyundai, Nvidia and Honda to form the Open Automotive Alliance, which aims to bring Google's Android OS to cars.

Last summer, Apple announced its iOS in the Car, a bridge between mobile devices and cars, which we should also see rolling out this year.

Last month, Chevrolet announced an App Shop, which adds a range of touch-screen options to its iLink in-car system - but while efforts are being made to enhance the driving experience with extra features and new things to prod and stare at, various "car mode" apps for iOS and Android are trying to take them away by simplifying phone screens to three or four buttons.

The problem boils down to the difficulty of prodding a precise area on a screen with a finger while avoiding prangs, accidents or worse.

Cutting-edge technology in expensive cars might address some of the safety issues, but most tech behind the wheel is sitting in a mount and masquerading as hands-free when, in fact, it's anything but.