The software requirements for in-car use is vastly different from that of standard desktop machines. For starters, the screen is much smaller (in my case about 7 inches). Secondly you can't be messing around with a mouse and keyboard while you are driving. I know what you are saying, "Thank you Captian Obvious". Well smart ass, I'm not done yet. If you are using a touchscreen interface, the interaction points must be large enough to hit while you glance at the screen. This requires some pretty large buttons and makes screen real-estate pretty expensive.
Mainly I use my car-computer for two things, music and GPS. For the GPS I just use the software that came with it, Delorm Street Atlas 2005. Its the best of the standard PC GPS software packages as far as usability on a touch screen (and that is not saying much). It does have some very nice voice input and output features which can be a big help in the car.
As for music, I have tried lots of the free software packages taylored for in-car use. So far I have found MediaEngine to be the best. Its realtivly easy to use and it looks great.
The Best Software Ever
Being that I am a software engineer, I have thought about writing my own software for the car computer. I have started it although I am probably only about 3% done. So far this is what I am looking for
- Full screen interface (never see windows)
- GPS support
- MP3 support
- DVD movie support
- Voice input and output
- Visualation support while playing music
- Beautiful interface with large buttons for ease of use
Those are about the most vague requirements ever, but hey, I am my own client so I can change the requirements all I want :) Hopefully I will actually have a version of the software to post sometime soon, but I would not hold your breath.