Don’t worry, be ‘appy: Best app-ready cars
Alongside playing Angry Birds and tweeting pictures of your cat, smartphones are incredibly useful for a lot of things.
This extends to car owners as much as anybody else, and there are now a wide range of phone and mobile device apps that can keep drivers entertained and save them both time and money.
However, while it’s easy to use a lot of these apps, it’s never safe to use your smartphone while driving. As a result, as technology advances at an ever-increasing pace, many carmakers have started to find ways to integrate your smartphone’s apps into your car itself.
As well as that, some of them have even gone so far as to create special platforms and applications specifically for the car. These can be used independently of your phone, or in conjunction with it, to further enhance your driving experience while also ensuring that your attention is devoted wholly to the road ahead.
We’ve put together a list of some of the best systems that carmakers have offered so far and the cars that you can find them in, so every tech head can be an ‘appy’ camper.
Ford’s SYNC system is a factory-installed communications and entertainment system first released in 2007 at the North American International Auto Show.
Introduced as a new product to provide divers with the ability to operate Bluetooth-enabled phones and media players using voice and steering-wheel mounted control, the technology later added text message functions as well.
Since then, the SYNC system has come a long way, with the current generation of the technology offering all of the above, along with multilingual intelligence.
In addition, the latest version of the system also supports a wide range of downloadable applications.
Built-in apps include a function to automatically call emergency services if the car detects that it’s been in a serious accident, as well as navigations and real-time traffic update apps.
Ford SYNC also supports AppLink, which allows many smartphone apps on Blackberry, iPhone and Android devices to be downloaded to the car’s infotainment system and accessed via steering wheel-mounted controls.
The chief technical offer for Ford, Paul Mascarenas, commented: “Customers want to integrate their personalised digital lives into their daily drive to ensure they are as connected and streamlined on the move as they are the rest of the day,
“These new AppLink partnerships significantly extend the growing range of smartphone apps drivers will be able to access by voice while keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.”
The SYNC technology is available on a wide range of Ford models, including the new Fiesta and the new EcoSport mini-SUV.
Mixing the hardiness and versatility of an SUV with the agility and efficiency of a small car, the EcoSport is the first SUV in the world to come with a 1.0-litre engine, the same award-winning EcoBoost as in the Fiesta.
It’s as affordable as a smaller car as well, with prices starting from just £14,990. Low price doesn’t mean low quality however, as the EcoSport’s tall height and adjustable driver’s seat gives the SUV a commanding position on the road and excellent visibility.
It also boasts 375 litres’ worth of storage capacity, rivalling the space of many medium-sized family cars.
Alongside the SYNC technology, a wide range of equipment comes as standard, including hill start assist, cruise control, automatic headlights and wipers and rear parking sensors.
Chevrolet’s MyLink system is an infotainment/telematics based on a real-time operating system and voice control software.
It’s essentially the same as the Intellilink system present in Vauxhall models like the new Corsa, as it’s made by the same manufacturer, except with a different interface display.
The system can play video and image files in select format, and also provide navigations information. As well as that, MyLink can also access the internet via a connection with a 3G-ready phone, and can download internet radio and other online content.
Smartphone integration is also a feature, much like the Ford SYNC, whereby phone apps and features can be accessed via the MyLink built-in touchscreen and the system is also compatible with the iPhone’s Siri function.
Chevrolet’s latest version of the revolutionary fifth-generation Camaro comes complete with the MyLink system as standard, proving itself to have plenty of brains to match its famous brawn.
Befitting of the car’s role as futuristic shape-shifting robot Bumblebee in the hit Transformers series, the new Camaro is no longer just another dumb muscle car.
With the MyLink system, it allows drivers to access all their favourite music playlists and applications entirely hands-free, allowing the driver to concentrate solely on the road ahead.
Along with the MyLink infotainment system, the new Camaro also comes well equipped with a wide range of features, both powerful and stylish.
A 6.2-litre V8 engine is matched with six-speed manual transmission to produce a potent 426bhp. Cruise control comes as standard, along with full leather upholstery and 20-inch alloy wheels, plus rear park assist and a rear parking camera.
Prices for the latest Camaro start from only £35,345, making it one of the most cost-effective options if you’re a driver looking for as much functionality as pure performance. For more information, contact your local Perrys Chevrolet dealer today.
According to the carmaker, the concept behind Mazda’s Connect technology is inspired by the relationship between a horse and its rider.
Mazda say that the more connected the two are, the better both can enjoy the ride and say that the connection is achieved by giving the driver more independence to access the car’s functions without getting distracted.
The result is the MZD Connect, which displays navigation, communication and entertainment information from a seven-inch display mounted in the centre of the car’s dashboard.
Functions can be accessed either via the touchscreen, or by voice activation or the Multimedia Commander, a special dial nestled in the centre console that allows intuitive operation with minimal distractions.
The MZD Connect can be updated on the move with the latest features and functions as they become available and can be twinned to your smartphone for even more connectivity options. As well as that, Mazda offer a free three-year navigation system on the MZD Connect with thousands of maps and navigation information for routes across the globe.
Mazda’s new Mazda2 supermini will be the latest model to receive the MZD Connect system when it goes on sale early next year.
Revealed in the middle of last month, the new Mazda2 also boasts the carmaker’s efficient SKYACTIV technology and has been designed in conjunction with Mazda’s Soul of Motion design concept.
It’s aiming to break into the B-segment market and take on class leaders like the Ford Fiesta, but the company believe that it can also reproduce the immense popularity of its siblings, the Mazda6, Mazda3 and CX-5.
Pricing and full specifications have yet to be announced, but a new engine has been confirmed to produce 104bhp, and it’s expected that it will also eventually be available on the rest of the Mazda range.
Along with the MZD Connect, Mazda have said that the new supermini will also come with a wide range of i-ACTIVSENSE active safety technology in addition to a “remarkably spacious and refined interior”.
The latest wave of Jaguar’s InControl connectivity software was launched earlier this year in January.
Developed in partnership with BOSCH SoftTec, InControl is compatible with a wide range of Apple, Android and Blackberry devices and also houses its own extensive collection of applications and features.
Apps included with the system include iHeartRadioforAuto, a made-for-driving music app that allows simple use with safety in mind. The app can access more than 1,500 live radio stations and also offer user-created custom stations inspired by favourite songs or artists.
There’s also INRIX, which provides live traffic information and driver service that’s been optimised specifically for the Jaguar technology to decrease distraction and increase ease of use, and provides constantly updated route and traffic information to the driver.
Other apps include Glympse, which allows users to share their locations with any other app users in real time, along with Parkopedia that shows drivers the closest parking spaces to their current locations.
Finally, InControl is also compatible with Hotelseeker and Citiseeker to find and book places to stay and can also be used to access and use the apps on your smartphone.
Jaguar’s F-TYPE was the first model to come with the InControl system installed.
The award-winning F-TYPE is one of the most spectacular and advanced models that the carmaker has ever produced, capable of making the 0-60mph spring in just 4.2 seconds.
Engine options include a 335bhp V6, which is upgraded to 375bhp on the V6 S model, while the top of the range V8 S model delivers a staggering 488bhp.
Pricing for the F-TYPE coupe starts from £51,235 while the convertible version starts from £58,520.