Cars and phones can be a good combination. While it is unsafe to text or talk on the phone while driving, Smartphones and automakers are teaming up in a different way. Automakers are beginning to introduce applications for phones that can assist drivers with their vehicles in a variety of ways. While different manufacturers have created very different Apps, the trend as a whole is heading in a similar direction, which is making more information available to drivers in a fast, easy, fun, and environmentally-friendly way.
Chrysler has replaced paper owner’s manuals with a Smartphone app. Since owner’s manuals are often hundreds of pages long, this app is both environmentally friendly and more convenient. Drivers no longer have to store bulky manuals in their glove compartment, and the app will make sections of the manual easier to find than they are in the manual or on the CD version that is offered with some models. This app will be free and will also include video demonstrations.
Another automaker introducing Smartphone apps is Audi. While their CarMonitor app is still in development, the application will give drivers information about their car by plugging it into their car’s OBD-II port, which is the same port mechanics use to communicate with the car’s computer. This app will tell the driver what miles per gallon their car is getting over the course of a trip, engine revolutions, and emissions. Audi drivers will also be able to use this app to communicate with other Audi owners and find comparable data. Drivers will then be able to use this data to find more information, such as which routes are the most efficient.
Some auto manufacturers have been linking Smartphones to cars for a little while now. This summer, GM’s OnStar communications service introduced a feature that allows GM drivers to lock or start their car remotely from their Smartphone . The application also allows owners to flash their headlights or honk the car’s horn from their phone to help find it in a crowded parking lot. However, this service is only available to OnStar subscribers.
While most of these features have been created by the car manufacturers themselves, there are also some helpful apps that are being designed by third parties. One of these is a radar detection application, which picks up signals from police speed radar guns and warns the driver. This feature also warns the driver of red-light cameras. Another application currently being developed overseas is a webcam, which will allow drivers to transmit webcam images to their phone. This would allow parents to watch their teenager or anyone else who is driving their car when they are not in the vehicle with them. Although neither of these applications are free, as most of the automaker apps are or will be, they are definitely beneficial and something to look into.
Whether customers are looking for convenience, cool applications, help with their car, or just the latest technology, the alliance between vehicles and Smartphone apps is definitely a step in the right direction.