AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Good news Android users and Mazda owners – you can now download Mazda’s MyMazda app.
The MyMazda app had previously only been available for iPhone users, but now Android smartphone users can use this app to get real-time information about their vehicle. This free app updates you as to service offers personalized to your car, scheduled maintenance reminders, factory maintenance schedules and other information.
Using the MyMazda app, you’ll be able to scan vehicle identification numbers (VINs) when you want to add new vehicles to the application. You can also update your contact information and upload personal vehicle photos for each vehicle you register.
If you’ve forgotten where you’ve parked your car in a busy parking lot, use the vehicle locator feature – it uses GPS to find out when you left your vehicle. As well, the “MyMazda” app is linked with the “Mazda Assist” app, so you can get hooked up with immediate roadside assistance should you need it using only the app on your smartphone, no 911 call necessary.
The MyMazda app for Android is available for free download at the Google Play Store.
Need to kill some time? Have an urge to crush some cars? There’s an app that can help you do both – Squash My Car.
Available to download for iPhone and Android phones, the Squash My Car app lets you turn a run-of-the-mill, normal-sized car into a pint-sized version. All you have to do is take a picture of a vehicle and the app’s squishy software transforms it into a mini image that can be used as a screensaver and personal avatar for social media networks. You can even use the squished car to adorn keyrings, posters and birthday cards.
To make the new and improved squished car, the Squash My Car app manipulates your “before” car image by shortening the body while keeping the wheels and other surrounding elements intact. The result gives new meaning to the term “compact car” that can still be easily identified as the original vehicle.
The Squash My Car app costs $0.99 to download. You can learn more about it on the Squash My Car website or you can watch a video of the app in action after the jump.
Are you a Bostonian who hates potholes? There’s an app for that, or at least there will be soon. The city is behind a new app for Android called Street Bump which addresses the problem.
Available this summer, the app picks up on potholes using a smartphone’s accelerometer, which is the device that measures movement. When you go over a bump in your car and the app is on, it will report the location to the city’s database. The Street Bump advises the city of the size and the location of the pothole with a GPS coordinate.
The Street Bump app gives Boston the ability to keep drivers informed of real-time road conditions, as well as keep the city on top of potholes that can be fixed while they are still small. Other cities in the U.S. have plans in place to follow suit with similar apps.
There are still a few bugs to work out of the Street Bump app (that’s why you’ll have to wait until the summer to download it) and there may be an iPhone app that may come at a later date. We will keep you posted on the latest developments.
Oh no – what does that flashing light on your dashboard mean? Now there’s an app that will tell you exactly what’s wrong.
The new Actron InfoMobile Lite app for iPhone and Android smart phones lets you easily reference data from an Actron diagnostic scan tool. The On-Board Diagnostic (OBD II) trouble code definitions (they are collected by the engine when a check engine light is lit up) are delivered right to your cell phone. The OBD II code definitions are relevant for vehicles built in 1996 and newer when used with an OBD II code reader.
“Our Actron InfoMobile Lite app is a very convenient option for auto enthusiasts because it eliminates the need for a computer – simply access trouble codes from your Actron PocketScan Code Reader or other diagnostic code reader, download the app to your iPhone or Android, and discover the trouble code definitions,” said Jennifer Grabowski, product manager for Actron Diagnostic Scan Tools. “We are providing accurate and reliable information that automotive DIYers can use to understand why their check engine light is on, and we’re offering it for an electronic product that nearly everyone carries.”
The Actron InfoMobile Lite app is free… and you can’t beat that price. Download the app now from the iTunes or Android Marketplace stores. There is one downside, though. The app doesn’t function by itself, you need a code reader. Guess what, Actron makes those and they aren’t exactly cheap. Even at Amazon’s significant discount, it costs $59.95.
There’s one other thing to keep in mind before placing an order, trouble codes are good, but they aren’t perfect. A single blown fuse can cause dozens of error codes capable of puzzling the best mechanics. On the upside, arming yourself with more knowledge before visiting your local grease monkey puts a lot of leverage in your corner when he tries to tell you the transmission is shot.
Buick has launched an app for iOS and Android smartphones to help raise MPG awareness. A trio of eAssist Fuel Efficiency smartphone games are packaged into a single app that’s now available to download for free and offers a fun way to hone your driving techniques in order to maximize fuel economy.
The three games are titled “Regeneration Road”, “Roll and Boost”, and “Wind Tunnel Tester.” Regeneration Road focuses on the regenerative braking featured found on Buick eAssist vehicles which helps capture and store energy when a vehicle is braking in order to recharge the lithium-ion battery. Players must make it through the town without running out of fuel while avoiding pedestrians along the way.
The second game, Roll and Boost, has a focus of distance and not speed with battery management being the main priority. By using the energy stored from braking strategically, an emissions-free boost of acceleration can be had and using that energy at optimal times is key to Roll and Boost.
Lastly, Wind Tunnel Tester allows players to put on their automotive engineering hat. Sit there and tweak the vehicle’s length and width on the screen, understanding how the sleek and modern shapes of Buick vehicles help maximize aerodynamics and ultimately fuel efficiency.
eAssist can be found on the Buick LaCrosse and Regal models and aids the performance of a fuel-efficient 2.4L gas engine to achieve 36-mpg. eAssist also allows the gas engine to turn off completely while the car is sitting idle.
“The driving force behind eAssist’s development was to make great vehicles like the LaCrosse and Regal even better,” said Dan Cottrell, General Motors assistant chief engineer for the eAssist powertrain. “With eAssist we can improve both vehicle performance as well as fuel economy.”
If you’ve got a BMW and an Android phone, you’ll be happy to hear that you’ve got access to the My BMW Remote app. Up until now, the app had only been available for the iPhone, but now the Android smartphone version has access to all the same nifty features.
The My BMW Remote app for Android will open and close your car, as well as control the Climate Control functions so you heat or cool your car before getting in. If you lose track of your BWM in a busy parking lot, just use the Flash Light or Horn Blow functions to be reunited again. And if it is way out of your line of sight or hearing, just use the Vehicle Finder function, which works within a up to 1,500 meters, and a map will pop up and get you to your car. It even comes with Google Local Search so you can use the search function or the smartphone’s address book to send Points of Interest (POIs) to your car’s navigation system.
Next year, the e-mobility-specific remote functions of the BMW ActiveE, which offers cool features such as battery charging from outside the car, will be available for Android phones, as will the Real-Time Traffic Information (RTTI) function upgrade.
Is eliminating distracted driving worth $24 a year? Sprint thinks so, and that’s why the company is offering its customers the new Drive First app.
Available only to Sprint subscribers, you’ll need to download special software to your Sprint Android devices (Android phones launched later this year will have the feature built in, with BlackBerry and Windows 7 devices being added in the future).
The Drive First app locks down your mobile phone when it senses motion (your car needs to be going more than 10 mph). If someone were to call or text you while you were behind the wheel, a message would let them know you were driving. You can select up to five numbers that can ring through, as well as three apps, such as navigation, music and weather (but not Facebook – the app is smart and knows that you don’t need that one open while driving).
You can also choose to override the app, but if teens are thinking about doing it, the app will send a notification to their parents to let them know what they are up to. The Drive First app also knows when your car has stopped, and will unlock to let you use it.
[Source: Edmunds Inside Line]
BMW Financial Services has jumped on the social media bandwagon with both feet and has introduced a new social navigation mobile app called “The Ultimate Drive.” Created to give drivers a unique mobile and social experience, this app lets users submit their favorite routes and have them shared via other social platforms.
The idea of The Ultimate Drive is that drivers in over 50 countries can rank, comment and share roads and routes on Facebook, email and other GPS devices. Already thinking ahead, you’ll be able to use the app in the future, if you’re a BMW Financial Service customer, to access your points and garner high rankings.
“A social app succeeds when it forms a community of users with similar interests. A mobile app succeeds when it shrinks that large community into something local and familiar,” said Pawan Murthy, General Manager of Online Business for BMW Group Financial Services. “Within a few seconds of opening the app, ‘The Ultimate Drive’ connects you to driving enthusiasts who have discovered great roads in your neighborhood – roads you may have overlooked. Sharing that joy of discovery is why we are eager to launch this app to everyone.”
The Ultimate Drive prides itself in being simple to use – just download it, find your location and poof… you’ll get the stretches of road that others have rated as the best ones in the area. If you want to contribute your own opinions on a road, just tap three times to share it via email or Facebook or send to your GPS device or app.
You can down The Ultimate Drive on iOS and Android devices for free from Apple’s App Store and the Android Marketplace.
Do you miss your Nissan Leaf the moment you walk away from it? Now, you can stay in touch with your Leaf no matter where you are at any time, thanks to the new Nissan Leaf app.
Available for use on Blackberry and Android operating systems (the app has already been available on the iPhone since the car’s release in 2010), the Leaf app lets Leaf owners manage and control tons of vehicle features right from their smartphone. To get this app, all you need is a Leaf (of course) and an active CARWINGS subscription. Even if you don’t own a Leaf but want to know more about it, you can download the app. It’s a handy tool that lets you check the state of the battery charge or begin charging. With the app, you can check when battery charge is complete, see estimated driving range or turn the climate control system on or off.
“Nissan understands that telematics and other communication services are important for consumers,” said Trisha Jung, director, Vehicle Connected Services, Nissan North America. “By providing accessibility and functionality to the Nissan LEAF through all major smartphone platforms, we are truly delivering ‘Innovation for All.’”
Sometimes, you need to leave the car at home and take public transit to get to your destination. And on those days, you can use Google Maps 5.7 for Android to navigate your way through public transit systems.
The update to Transit Navigation now includes information for public transit in over 400 cities around the world. You’ll get turn-by-turn and stop-by-stop navigation, which comes in pretty handy if you’re in a country where you don’t understand the language or informational signs.
Using GPS to let you know where you and when you need to get off, Transit Navigation works best above ground – this is a GPS connectivity issue, and not one with the app itself). That means when you’re taking the subway, your service may be interrupted or it may not work at all.
And if you want to play a game of Angry Bird to pass the time, don’t worry – the Transit Navigation app still works to keep you on track. It offers display notifications and will vibrate to keep you in the loop on your traveling route.
There are a few more upgrades to the Transit Navigation (beta) app. The Navigation icon now appears automatically when you’re pulling up directions, which means there’s less to tap to get your turn-by-turn directions. There are also search suggestions and a photo viewer has been built into Google Place pages.
You can download Google Maps 5.7 for all Android devices running OS 2.1+ now on Android Market.
While it may seem that Apple’s iPhone continues to dominate the smart phone market, Google’s Android is actually the more popular operating system. So naturally, many app developers and companies are slowly creating variants of their iPhone/iPad apps to work on Google’s Android system. Included in that list is radar detector company Cobra.
Cobra’s iRadar app is now available for Android, though we still find it a little oddly named now that it’s on Android. The app offers a collection of standalone features (no actual Cobra radar required) that includes GPS warnings for road hazards, traffic cameras and speed traps. By utilizing Cobra’s Aura Camera and Driving Hazard Database with Google Maps integration, users are able to access a plethora of information to enhance their driving experience.
Those with an actual Cobra iRadar hardware can pair their app via Bluetooth for additional features. The app can serve as an auxiliary display for the detector and allows users to make their own road hazards for subsequent trips and aid other drivers.
The app is free on Android’s Market while a Cobra iRadar Detector is $125.
[Source: Car Tech Blog]
You need to run errands, or visit a friend, or meet a client, but the thought of find a parking spot gives you a great reason to procrastinate. There’s no need to fear the uncertainty of parking space scarcity anymore, thanks to the Navigon Help2Park app.
The free smartphone application works for iPhone and Android operating systems and helps you find a place to park in most U.S. cities. With the Help2Park app, you can choose from private and public parking areas, as well as the radius size near your destination (depending upon how far you want to walk).
It also comes with a list of options to choose from and displays them on a map. If you’ve already shelled out some cash for Navigon’s MobileNavigator navigation app, Help2Park can work with it to provide turn-by turn directions.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
Before you get too excited, the Taser app isn’t what you think it is. But what it will do is protect your family while they are driving.
A special app that’s only available for Blackberry and Android platforms (it needs Bluetooth to function properly), the Taser prevents cell-phone related driving distractions, promotes responsible driving behaviors, and offers important information you may need in emergency situations. Basically, it locks down your cell phone while you are behind the wheel, so you get that peace of mind for when your teen borrows the car.
Here’s how it works: the app uses Bluetooth to communicate via a small dongle that connects to the vehicle’s diagnostic port. When it makes a connection, it locks down the phone except for the Taser app which gives the user only basic functionality including voice dialing and 911 access. You also get GPS and cellular functionality (with its own SIM card). If you really want to keep an eye on what your teens are doing, it will keep track of a vehicle’s location and will report unsafe driving behavior and accidents – it’s the perfect snitch.
The Taser kit will cost you $249.95 plus a recurring fee starting at $14.95/month. If the price doesn’t shock you (sorry, couldn’t resist), the Taser may be a worthwhile investment, especially if you want to monitor your young drivers.
[Source: Oh Gizmo]
Anybody who’s anybody has their own app, and now you can add State Farm to the list of trend setters. This one will hopefully cut down on a few claims, as State Farm’s Android application automatically responds to text messages while you’re driving.
The new widget, called the “On the Move” widget, lets Android smartphone users to compose and preload customized messages that are sent as automated responses to incoming text messages. That means you can keep your eyes on the road and let the app respond to text messages for you. It tells texters that you’re busy at the moment, but will get back to them as soon as you can. It’s free to anyone with an Android smartphone as part of State Farm’s updated Pocket Agent for Android application.
“It is our hope that this widget will prevent crashes and save lives,” said Laurette Stiles, Strategic Resources vice president at State Farm. “This new service will help drivers manage the temptation to read or respond to text messages when they are behind the wheel. We wanted to make this widget available free-of-charge as just one of the ways we’re working to keep our roadways safe for drivers.”
With the app, Android owners can compose their own responses and save them for future use. It works with all incoming texts, or can be directed at those in your address book. Before you drive you car away, just activate the service and catch up on your texts when you get to your destination. Activating the service prior to driving is just one way to use the widget.
To activate the auto-response function, just turn on the widget and write or pick an auto-response message. Any text messages you get still come through and can be accessed in your inbox at any time.
Check out a video demonstration of the App after the jump: