Auto makers are utilizing the smartphone app industry more and more, as 2013 models will show vast systems designed to work with mobile device apps. Local searches, web content, and even Facebook are becoming more accessible while behind the wheel.
GM’s newest Cadillac, model XTS, features CUE (Cadillac User Experience), an info-tainment system so advanced that you need an iPad to learn how to use it. Every purchaser receives an iPad pre-loaded with the information the driver needs—including a tutorial on how to use the intricate system of navigation, device sync, and digital dashboard, as well as climate control and stereo.
Normally we’d expect to only see this kind of advanced system on a luxury vehicle, but GM has allowed the technology to trickle down to even its cheapest new vehicle, the Chevrolet Spark. The BringGo app, which is compatible with the Spark’s MyLink system, projects cloud based navigation and live traffic alerts to the car’s touchscreen. The app also provides emergency information, live GPS locators, local Google search, and the ability to store maps to the driver’s smartphone.
Honda’s new infotainment system, Honda Link, currently available in the 2013 Accord, allows the driver to utilize all content on Aha, a media platform that provides web content to the car’s system and displays it on the LCD screen. Internet radio and podcasts are a quick touch away. Honda Link also has a mobile device app, which can access the web content from anywhere, and then become synced with the car. Perhaps the most interesting feature of this system is that it will continuously upgrade with Aha. As content and system structures are added, Honda Link will be able to keep up with the updates.
BMW is introducing two new systems to several models; the Next Generation Navigation Professional, and iDrive. The Next Generation system includes advanced real-time traffic information, weather information within the navigation map, point of interest memory, and Google autocomplete. iDrive has brought together several different functions and controls into a compact controller. With iDrive, the driver can quickly access information about the car’s interior functions, stereo, Bluetooth telephone, and navigation. The system also is intuitive, which means it predicts the driver’s needs more accurately each time its used.
Mercedes has improved telematics for most models by utilizing cloud technology. Available as standard on most vehicles, the mbrace2 system offers internet access through a series of mobile apps. Destination planning and concierge features, as well as remote vehicle interaction, are easily accessible. Drivers can connect to Facebook, Yelp, and Google local search seamlessly and with minimal distraction. With a program called Send2Benz, drivers can send destinations and addresses to the car’s navigation system from their home computer, and with the mbrace2 mobile app, the Send2Benz system can be used from your phone as well.
Another useful feature with mbrace is remote vehicle diagnostics. The technology can automatically alert both the driver and authorized dealer to potential issues arising. The driver can also sound the horn, turn on the head lights, and connect to the car locks, all from a smartphone.