Useful iPhone Car Apps
Since 2007, thousands of more or less successful iPhone apps to go with a car have been developed, either by carmakers themselves or by independent companies. It would be nearly impossible to list them all, but we thought to give you a short list with the most useful apps created by automotive players available today.
OnStar Mobile Application
"The Chevrolet Volt ushers in a new era of automotive technology and calls for a new level of connectivity and control,” Walt Dorfstatter, OnStar president said. “Nearly 6 million vehicles on the road today use OnStar to stay connected, and our new smartphone app will make that even easier for Volt drivers.”
The features of OnStar's app are listed below:
- displays charge status and voltage
- allows scheduling charge timing
- sets grid-friendly charge mode for off-peak times
- texts or emails reminders and alerts for charge, interruptions and full charge
- displays mpg, electric only miles, and odometer readings
- remotely start the vehicle to pre-condition the interior temperature
BMW M Power Meter
For those who really like the revs, Gs and basically all needles pointing to high numbers, the BMW M Power Meter is the perfect toy. The problem with it is that, in order to fully enjoy it, you will have to own a M-badged BMW vehicle.
Other than that, the Meter is quite the gadget. It provides, in real time conditions, data about speed, forward acceleration, lateral acceleration, travel time for a set distance or acceleration to a set speed. The users can even customize the application thanks to three free design skins offered by BMW, namely "Sport", "Lava" and "Midnight".
Sylvania Headlight Bulbs
A sort of an application for less mechanically-literate people, Sylvania's Headlight Bulbs app does not replace the bulbs for you (be it in the form of headlights or signal lights), but provides a more compact guide on how you can do the operation yourself. The app allows the user to select the manual she/he needs from a list of vehicles comprising every make of car sold in the United States from 1991 to 2009.
The multi-layer database application does not require cell phone reception as it is housed right to the phone and, as Sylvania says, it is likely the it will be more useful for service mechanics than for car owners...
The advent of the iPhone and all the advancements made in GPS location and mapping has made possible the creation of the TomTom app, an iPhone-based GPS system complete with real-time traffic information, Google local search and SatNav with turn-by-turn instructions and points of interest.
The features of the app are listed below:
- wide range of videos and contributions from diverse BMW TV platform fields
- video streaming in full length and high quality
- video wall with the option to filter videos according to various criteria
- option to commend on the video contributions and to recommend them to friends
Land Rover Official Guinness Premiership
Perhaps one of the most exciting apps we came across while searching info for this material, the Land Rover Official Guinness Premiership is a God sent gift for rugby fans. The app is to be used to get all the latest news, fixtures, scores and results directly on the iPhone. It has absolutely nothing to do with the automotive world, except for the fact that it was created with the help of Land Rover, established sponsor of Premier Rugby.
“This is exactly what Premiership supporters need; it makes rugby accessible to all its followers which is great for the game,” said Tom Rees, London Wasps captain and flanker.
Far from being a tool for Wall Street broker wannabes, the Mercedes-Benz Financial app allows Mercedes-Benz customers to make payments, view their account summary and request payoff information on existing accounts on their iPhone.
Being a more sensitive application than, for instance, BMW TV, this one is packed with security features, including secure socket layer (SSL) encryption to protect customer information during transmission. Should that not be enough for the i-theft scared customer, the app allows him/her to locate the nearest Mercedes-Benz authorized dealer or contact a customer service representative and talk to a person directly.
Below is a list of the App's features:
- find available Zipcars on a map using the current location, a favorite location, or any location
- reserve a Zipcar
- sort cars by time available, car type and model
- view upcoming reservations
- get directions to the Zipcar
- locate the reserved Zipcar by honking the horn
- tap to contact Zipcar if help is needed during a reservation
- extend or cancel reservations
If you are employed with a corporation which decided to trust you with a company car, if you are a taxi or truck driver, then you must be used with all the struggles of having to write down on paper the mileage, fuel consumption and so on.
That annoying process can be avoided by using MileBug, an app which allow you to enter odometer readings at the start and end of a journey, as well as all types of other significant details, like the type of trip or reimbursement rate. Its creators proudly advertise MileBug can also save the last odometer reading and defaults for reimbursement and tax deduction rates, to make it easier to use on the next journey.
Perhaps one of the most useful apps for use in cars is the EyeRadar, an iPhone based speed camera warning system. A bit like the poor cousin of the regular radar detector, this app uses GPS to locate the user and a speed camera library to warn the driver of the approaching hazard. When a speed camera is known to be approaching, the iPhone will make a sound, telling you to ease on the accelerator.
The downside of the system is the fact that it relies on existing information about speed cameras, rather than actually detecting them. The database used for the system to work is FoxyTag, the largest speed camera database in the world. FoxyTag has a big advantage though: it automatically creates trust links with other users, allowing the download of new data every 5 minutes.
OK, so you're driving peacefully towards your home, in the middle of the night, with no one around to trouble your journey. Yet, at some point, some crazy driver cuts you off, making you press hard on the brakes. Since you're wearing no seatbelt, you bang your head on the steering wheel, get a headache, your night is ruined. Wouldn't you love to get your hands on that guy?
Luckily, even if you can't get your hands on him, you can warn others and tell them what he has done. The Tag Sighting app allow you to post the license plate of the other driver, accompanied by a short comment.
Ever wanted to know how much fuel your car needs for every mile? Sure, you can do that by using the on-board computer of the car, but can you compare the mileage on one car with the one on another? No, you can't. AccuFuel allows fleet owners, as well as people who own more than one car, to compare fuel usage for multiple vehicles. The app also allows for comparison charts to be created for the same type of car, but built in a different model year.
Apps aside, it is clear the iPhone will be more and more integrated in the vehicles of tomorrow. So much so that one day the iPhone in particular and smart phones in general will become an essential part of the car. For now, car manufacturers have kept the iPhone aside and have not integrated it into vehicles, but others have already begun inking them in what will become a natural evolution.