Explained: car companion apps
Most new cars now come with manufacturer-made apps to keep you digitally attached to your vehicle
The popular saying ‘there’s an app for that’ has never been truer – even in the automotive world. These days, pretty much every car manufacturer offers a smartphone app that lets you control vehicle functions without being inside the car.
Whether it’s using your phone as a key or warming up the cabin on a frosty morning from the comfort of your own bed, there’s not much out of reach of your fingertips. Here, we highlight some of the apps available…
Arguably the best in the business comes from Tesla. Perhaps unsurprisingly considering the American manufacturer feels more like a tech giant than a conventional car company.
On a recent test with the Model 3, we found it easy to use in replacement of a key – just walk up to the car and it unlocks, walk away and it locks, and sit inside to drive away without pressing any buttons. You can also manage charging, check the GPS location of the car and control the climate from your phone.
BMW calls its app ‘your personal mobility assistant’ because it can help you run your life. It ‘learns’ your routine and can read your calendar, putting the route to meetings into the sat nav ahead of time – even notifying you when you need to leave, adapting based on live traffic information.
It also makes finding the car in a car park easier, by showing the vehicle’s location on a map and allowing you to flash the headlights at the push of a button.
Volvo On Call
Volvo’s app features a sleek and simple design, much like the Scandinavian firm’s vehicles. Its functions are similar to other apps you see here, with the ability to find your car, send map locations to the sat nav, and remotely set climate functions. Owners of hybrids can also check the charge status.
Hyundai has also joined the connected car game with its latest models able to be controlled through its Bluelink app. It allows you to use your phone as a key, warm or cool the car before you arrive, and manage charging in electrified models.
Audi WhatsApp Concierge
Audi has taken a rather left-field approach to embracing the digital age with its concierge service that runs through WhatsApp. Owners of the firm’s new all-electric e-tron SUV can text EV experts any questions about their vehicle, with the idea being that it smooths the transition from traditionally powered vehicles to electric.
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