These provide clear illustration that biometric identity, iPhone-driven connectivity and in-car telematics are increasingly the holy trinity for smart vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz MB Companion
(Illustrated above). As announced, this app offers door-to-door navigation instructions for driving or to help you find your parked car. By the end of the 2015, it will also offer fuel level monitoring, odometer reading and maintenance code provision. No word yet on use as a car key, but surely that’s inevitable?
If you drive a BMW i-Series hybrid, there’s an Apple Watch app for you. It lets you check important details and control vehicle settings with a Glance at your Watch. Power levels, interior climate control and location can all be managed with the app – which will also remotely open the car doors with a single tap.
Porsche Car Connect
Compatible with 2014 or newer Cayenne, Macan, Panamera and 918 Spyder models equipped with Porsche Car Connect, this app lets you fold in the side-view mirrors, check tire pressure, fuel level and electric battery status and activate climate control system. You can also check that doors and windows are closed, find your vehicle – and lock and unlock your car.
Tesla Remote S
Elon Musk’s firm is putting together its own Apple Watch app; this one controls nearly all the functions of the Tesla Model S. Honk the horn; flash the lights; control the roof; monitor vehicle charge; set climate control; find the car; monitor speed and location and – of course, lock and unlock the vehicle.
Car-Net will check whether windows are closed and help find your parked vehicle, but it also has additional features that set it apart, such as the capacity to let you know when you exceed the speed limit and support for geofencing, so you will be told if your vehicle drives outside of an assigned radius. Fuel/battery monitors, climate control and, of course, the app lets you lock and unlock your car.
Hyundai Blue Link
Hyundai has promised to introduce Apple Watch support to its car control system, Blue Link. This helps you find your car when it is parked, will schedule service appointments and remotely toots car horns. It also lets you lock and unlock your car and start your vehicle.
You don’t need to buy a new car to explore connected features. One of the most interesting after market solutions you can get, Automatic, gives you access to in-car telematics via your Apple Watch for the cost of a $99 device you fit inside a compatible vehicle. Automatic has promised to “extend the functionality to include check engine light, battery, and low fuel warnings,” in future.
I think all these apps constitute a fairly representative picture of what sort of features we can anticipate will be controlled using in-car apps, on smartphones or on Apple Watch.
- Physical controls: Lock/Unlock/Ignition
- Location sensing, including geofencing and driving suggestions.
- Telematic indicators – fuel/energy use, tire pressure, engine condition.
- Environmental controls: Climate, window and seat belt monitoring, side-view mirrors etc.
- Augmentation: Maps, location, driving habits and advice
To this list we can add sophisticated accident prevention and semi-autonomous driving, both of which should be commonly deployed by 2020, by which time many think Apple is expected to ship its own smart car.
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