Being able to pull off various functions of your car through your smartphone is not as new-age as it sounds like. Many might remember when Drone from Firstech first broke cover, and that was several years ago. While the technology might not be as old as what James Bond used in “Tomorrow Never Dies”, in the current time nearly every car manufacturer is providing solutions for remote connectivity. You would be hard-pressed to find one that doesn’t.
A lot has to do here with the technological shift not only in the automobile industry but as a whole in the past decade. Thanks to the ever-growing smartphone revolution riding on internet penetration. How smartphone-connectivity has reshaped automobiles is evident in the growth of connected tech in cars itself. Apart from entertainment, connected car-tech is also expanding itself from the safety and services end. It all went on from the advent of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to auto-makers coming up with their own cloud-based services like Stellantis’ UConnect platform. These services are directed towards quicker and more convenient end-services to buyers while simultaneously keeping a track on vehicles.
Since convenience doesn’t get easier than being able to control things from your smartphone, almost every manufacturer today has started integrating such cloud-based services with in-house apps. The current SUV trend spared no time in mediating the expansion of remote app-based services across buyers in every price bracket. 4G WiFi connectivity as a feature itself was out of sight, ten years back, forget about remotely accessing the same. Today, we can remotely change the 4G LTE WiFi Connectivity settings of the GMC Acadia, without diving inside its spacious cabin.
It is of foremost importance though, that the cloud-based services were initially intended to offer assistance like vehicle servicing due, vehicle stats, emergency SOS, etc. A mobile app today, expands the horizon of these services by acting as a nodal point which can facilitate different input commands in a single drawer. These smartphone apps can carry through with the most standard of functions like managing the central locking system of the car for keyless entry and even remote start/stop functions.
In vehicles of higher orders, you can also use a remote app to control several advanced features as well. These advanced features include but are not limited to Wi-Fi. Diagnostic tools, entertainment management, and even GPS trackers so that you never forget where you have parked your car and even where someone else did. So, you can do plenty with your car with just a smartphone and fast-enough data connections. The brand-specific apps are also state-of-the-art be it GM’s OnStar RemoteLink which can remotely unlock your doors or Toyota’s Entune which can beam destinations to the navigation system. Let us now go to the specifics and see just how much this technology has advanced over the years and the degree to which you can control your vehicle remotely:
There is no greater convenience than being able to unlock doors for your friends and family. While remote unlocking is a pretty basic feature and comes with nearly every vehicle nowadays, having that ability on your smartphone is an extra touch of convenience. Though you can do this through your key fob as well, having that ability on your smartphone lets you be practically anywhere and not necessarily near the car to unlock the doors.
Just imagine being stranded in bad weather with shopping bags on your hands, there would be a lot of ordeals to reach out for your key fob and wait to get near the car to open it. Now, you can do that from inside the shop or anywhere for that matter to swiftly make way to the comfort of the cabin.
Start/Stop your car remotely
Getting into your car and having the engine warmed up and ready to go is of great convenience to car owners. However, if you live somewhere where the weather is not favorable then you certainly make intended use of the cooling/heating system too. You can now even set the temperature of the cabin whether you want a warm or cool cabin before you enter the car.
Now the question arises, what if someone takes advantage of a started car while you are not inside it. These smartphone-based systems can switch the engine off if it senses the car has been entered through implicit methods or if taken without permission. These features can also make use of the engine immobilization feature and disable it entirely.
GPS Tracking and Geofencing
Maybe, your car is in the hands of a driver, maybe even your children. Just about every other car on the road nowadays has a GPS route planner as part of the infotainment system. Therefore it makes it very easy to track the vehicle’s whereabouts at any time.
You can precisely see how far the car has been driven, and if need be where to go to get it back. This ability to get to know the location in real-time is also crucial for parents who have teenage drivers so that they can keep an eye on them in case of any reckless behavior.
The modern automobile has countless sensors closely looking over every part of the vehicle. Given the myriad of warning lights that can show up on your dashboard, for the sake of convenience manufacturers have begun to add these to the smartphone modules as well.
This will help the driver be aware of the problem before they step into the car so they can conveniently rectify the problems as soon as possible. Nobody wants to go out on a drive and then find themselves stranded in the middle of the road because of a dead battery.
Not only does this early detection of problems save one from these problems escalating, but timely notifying of these problems helps the owner save time and money and overall increase the lifespan of this vehicle. Be it incorrect tire pressures or engine seizures, the module can warn you about every little problem in your vehicle
If you have an EV, the level of diagnostics is even more advanced. You can now check battery levels, typical ranges with those battery levels, and other control settings.
Planning and booking service appointments have now become exponentially simple since the smartphone module now tells you well in advance when the tentative dates are.
The module will also send you notifications so that you do not miss out on any repair or service date, keeping up with them is now very convenient. The benefits of these smartphone modules go beyond just maintenance. Roadside assistance as a standard feature while buying a new car is a common phenomenon.
However, complemented by the smartphone module, you can give exact locations to the services coming to your aid. The diagnostics can also be taken into consideration to identify the problem well before your mechanic arrives.
Whether you use a cellular-based smartphone control system that gives you unlimited range or you use an RF/Bluetooth-based service with an app for that cheap hassle-free functioning, remotely controlling car systems are here to stay and evolve.
Yes, there are more than enough aftermarket services out there which will happily sell you these models, however, it is also worth checking out the services the manufacturers provide with the car, some of them come as standard, and more often than not they are the state-of-the-art technologies.