The rise of smartphones has been incremental to so many businesses, and people themselves. They have become much more than our communication and entertainment devices, they are our memories, our wallets and our personal assistants.
But when it comes to our vehicles, how much further can your smartphone go? How can they assist you at times baleful, tasks.
What follows is a look at the most remarkable ways our phones are changing the driving experience...
Parking in the city is already a hassle, but apps like PayByPhone allows drivers to pay their parking meter by calling or texting, or through a mobile app. Users can receive a reminder when the meter is about to expire and then pay to reload it right from their phones. A pay for tolls option is also available. The technology does have its detractors, and some motorists in Britain have been critical of the minimum charges levied – which is more a function of the vendor than the app itself.
Mobile Ignition Start
Push-button starts used to be the gee-whiz way to start a car, but now it can be done remotely from a smartphone app. Drivers using OnStar's RemoteLink app can start their vehicle from an iOS, Android or BlackBerry handset. Users can also unlock their vehicle, check fuel levels and driving range, and monitor tire pressure - WOW!
Siri's coming integration into cars has been covered on this website before, but it bears repeating. This year, GM, Honda and a handful of other automakers will release models with a new Siri "Eyes Free" feature. Apple iPhone 4S and 5 users will be able to ask Siri to call contacts, send texts and generate responses to basic questions like, “Siri, how am I feeling today?”
Some automakers have their own diagnostics smartphone apps, but third-party programmes like DashCommand go one step further. DashCommand can display torque levels, turbo boost, air-to-fuel ratios and other parameters beloved by enthusiasts. The software requires a third-party programme to communicate diagnostics information from the engine to the app, but simpler and less expensive apps are also available from the company.
Accident and roadside assistance
Breaking down or being involved in an accident can make any motorist feel untethered, but apps like Allstate's roadside assistance can store insurance and vehicle information, ring emergency contacts and put the driver in touch with roadside help. Apps like this contain checklists to tell a driver what to do after an accident, and some use integrated GPS to pinpoint a driver’s location.