The pace of development in the automotive world is fast. New cars are out every few months, and even in affordable vehicles we're seeing new and innovative technologies appearing on a regular basis. Just about the only thing evolving faster is the smartphones that we carry around in our pockets. Soon enough, the communication between your car and your phone will become more unified than ever.
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Keeping Track Of Fuel And Maintenance Remotely
One of our first exposures to smart car control apps was Tesla's smartphone app for iOS and Android, and for a car that takes anywhere from half an hour to an hour to fully charge — using one of the electric car company's Superchargers — being able to remotely monitor the amount of charge in the internal battery pack is a must, and you're notified when it's fully topped up. Not only that, the Tesla app lets you unlock the Model S remotely and, as long as you have the phone with you, you can even drive the car without its key. It's very convenient.
Ford's FordPass does a hell of a lot to make your car easier to interact with when you're not in it, but one of the most useful features that it has is a relatively straightforward one: new Fords with the company's SYNC Connect monitoring hardware can report their fuel level through the app, telling you know when you need to fill up. You can see your car's servicing schedule, too, and make your way to a nearby dealer for a visit if necessary. Imagine that data being shared with your car dealer or mechanic directly, taking the human factor out of the equation entirely.
Using Your Phone While You're Driving, Hands-Free
In the last couple of years, Bluetooth has become a lot better in cars — it's a far cry from the complicated, difficult-to-use mess that it was in the early 2000s. It's the de facto standard for wireless in-car communication between your phone and your entertainment system, and with good reason. But if you want to charge your phone while you're travelling, many new cars are being released with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay — wired connectivity for 95 per cent of new smartphones that lets you runs apps like Google Maps and Spotify from your steering wheel.
Natural language processing has made massive leaps forward in the last couple of years, and that means the way that computers — especially the efficient, internet-connected computers in our cars and phones — can easily understand what we're saying and find the meaning within it. Many new cars have voice-activated controls built in, and they're only getting better with time. Imagine being able to get into your car, while you're still talking to your friend on the phone, and setting a navigation destination before setting off on your journey, all by using your voice without needing to touch a button.
Checking On Your Car While You're Away From It
New internet-connected cars can also help you keep a watchful eye on whoever's driving your car, reporting crucial data like its speed and location — letting you track it if it's stolen, or giving you the peace of mind that the child or friend that you've loaned your car too isn't speeding or driving outside the area that they promised they would. Many newer cars also feature always-on GPS integration, so you can find your car more easily if you've forgotten where it's parked in a massive car-park or if you're picking it up from a friend in an unfamiliar location.
With more internet-connected smart cars integrating their own dash-cams and reversing cameras, it's not out of the realm of possibility to think of a near future where you're able to log into your car while it's parked nearby and switch on its various built-in cameras to check what's going on in the surroundings — whether there's a parking officer snooping around nearby, for example. You could even use your phone to receive a notification when an impact sensor goes off — maybe from someone backing into your car in a parking structure — and activate its cameras to record what's going on.