Driving Down the Smart Car Superhighway

Recognizing the omnipresence of smartphones in today’s society, car manufacturers from luxury to economy brands are incorporating devices into vehicle designs to provide seamless entertainment as well as a safer driving experience.

Smartphone integration is one of the top features consumers look for when purchasing a new car. During 2013 CES, smartphone-connected cars were identified as a top trend by several outlets such as Forbes and GigaOM. Following CES, Chevrolet’s Sonic and Spark models became the first cars to offer hands-free integration with iOS’ voice command client, Siri. Drivers can use Siri with the in-vehicle infotainment system, Chevrolet MyLink, to place calls, play songs, listen to and compose text messages, and add appointments to their calendars. 

The new Volkswagen iBeetle has plans to bring capabilities to the next level. Available next year, consumers will have the ability to incorporate the full functionality of the latest iOS smartphones into a car. A dock for the device sits at the top of the dashboard, allowing all of the functions, including navigation, to be used in the car. The smartphone is considered part of the design of the vehicle, so much so that it will feature similar color schemes. And, the 2013 Toyota Avalon features a high-tech interior with Entune, the vehicle’s entertainment system. With Android smartphones, drivers can sync with Entune to access several entertainment apps from the touch-screen dashboard.

For those not in the market for a brand new vehicle, there are smartphone apps that can make the driving experience more seamless. Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi plugs into most cars built after 1996 and turns the car into a self-diagnosing connected vehicle. Apps like SafelyGo limit text messages while driving, enabling calls through hands-free devices, and sending auto-replies to let friends know the driver is unable to answer.

Smartphone integration and infotainment systems are the future of life on the road, and they’re coming up fast.