Keep Your Eyes on the App
New apps help smartphone-reliant drivers stay connected while on the road
Tech / 21 Mar 2011

Modern rides are coming equipped with intelligent networking applications to make sure that today’s hyper-connected drivers don’t miss a beat. In fact, “infotainment” was perhaps the most frequently used term at this month’s 81st International Motor Show in Geneva. But will these new connected cars make the lives of avid multi-taskers more manageable…or more life-threatening?

ConnectedDrive: After the success of last year’s MINI Connected app, the cutting-edge carmakers at BMW have released ConnectedDrive, a concept that integrates online access for all cars made after March 2011. This next generation of iPhone-compatible vehicles will enable 50 high tech functions and voice-activated commands through its advanced iDrive system. For instance, it will allow drivers to post and receive Facebook and Twitter updates, and facilitate a PlugIn that makes Internet radio and iTunes’ Genius feature available on the road. BlackBerry and Android users need not fret, as BMW is working on making the app available for additional devices. For now, BlackBerry users may continue to enjoy having their emails read aloud to them in their mobile offices.

SYNC: Ford Motors’ CEO skipped Geneva in favor of CeBIT, Europe’s leading IT fair. Having

first wowed drivers at the Detroit Auto Show in 2007, Ford’s SYNC is now in more than 3 million US vehicles. The fully integrated in-vehicle communications and entertainment system now understands voice commands in 19 languages. Features include hands-free calling, audible text messages, turn-by-turn directions, voice controlled music, vehicle health reports, real-time traffic alerts, and local business search—yes, it does almost everything but brush the driver’s teeth. Though SYNC certainly makes time behind the wheel more productive, there is a downside in that Ford owners will no longer be able to use the excuse that they “didn’t get the message because they were driving.”

MyLink: The MyLink app for 2011 Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC offers an in-car infotainment package that builds upon the safety-based OnStar system with integrated audible text messaging, emailing, online services, traffic advisories, voice commands and more. After downloading the app, drivers can access real-time data on fuel information and oil level tire pressure for maximum security. Additionally, drivers can use their smartphones to lock and unlock doors, start the engine, and activate the horn and lights remotely. Attendees at last week’s SXSW were some of the first to put MyLink to the test. Ten teams took the 2011 #ChevySXSW Roadtrip Challenge, while the “Catch a Chevy” service shuttled festivalgoers to venues during the post-breakfast taco hour.

©The Intelligence Group