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.
Every time we get behind the wheel we’re at the mercy of a multitude of variables that are simply out of our control. Weather, crashes and highway design flaws can all conspire to turn a short trip a drawn-out nightmare. But what is being done to minimize congestion? Municipalities can do a few things to reduce on-road problems, and so can you.
Adding convenience and confidence to the used car buying experience, today Carfax announced a mobile app for Android users.
GM is introducing a new way for people who own its cars to make money: integrating a car sharing service with OnStar.
Any car from 1996 and newer can have a real-time gas consumption meter thanks to an Android app, but you might not want to pay for it.
OBD Mileage is now available for Google Android smartphone users who want to watch their car’s mpg change during hill climbs, highway driving and schlepping around town. The developer says the app can display “55 different kinds of information,” hopefully that includes switching between kilometers and miles per gallon. Unfortunately, the program looks sketchy at best and costs a boatload.
The picture you see above is a shot of what OBD Milage looks like while running — you can be the aesthetics judge here. Not only that, but running the app requires a plug-in bluetooth device to bridge communication between your phone and car. The device recommended on the OBD website costs $99.99 and that’s on sale.
The app itself also seems to cost something, though the site doesn’t make it readily obvious how much you’re spending. Instead it says discomforting things like: “We use the Google wallet for the payment,” and “When you purchased the validity period, it is not possible for the refund even if there is any reason.”
The validity period is also more-or-less unexplained but it seems like a temporary license to use the program. Worse yet, uninstalling the app and changing your phone’s date and time both render your purchase void.
So much for customer service, it’s probably better to use the in-dash fuel gauge and avoid all the nonsense.
A new Kickstarter project looks to make your smartphone the center of your car stereo needs in not only a painless and effective manner, but in one that won’t break your bank account.
Compared to any traditional, high quality head unit, the Devium Dash is complete steal right now for just $250. The retail pricing will be around $300 when it’s completely released to the market in July, but what exactly does $250 get you? Well it’s a fully-functional head unit that uses your smartphone to access GPS, send texts by voice, play music, etc. Everything that you’re used to doing on your phone will now seamless integrate to the rest of your car’s stereo system.
The head unit itself will pump out 4×50 watts of power and has two preamps for front and rear subwoofers. In addition, it supports a video pass through so owners can also play video on external monitors. Best of all, the head unit will keep your phone charged while it’s in use. To make everything less distracting while you’re driving, Devium includes an app for your smartphone that will allow you to quickly bookmark your most-used automotive applications onto a quick-access home screen.
That’s not all it can do however. The Devium Dash also has your typical FM tuner and AUX input, but will also allow users to eventually connect to their vehicle’s computer.
The first Dash will be shipping out in June 2012, and will initially only support the Apple iPhone 4 and 4S, but Devium hopes to support additional smartphones in the near future including your collection of Android units out on the market now.
Watch the video here showing how the Devium Dash will operate.
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.
Cell phones behind the wheel— they’re a deadly plague on traffic safety that cause frequent and preventable crashes. Even worse is the fact that scores of mature drivers are just as guilty as any number of 16-year-old sidewalk terrors more concerned with texting back than taking the wheel.
One company is offering a solution that could help cut down on the number of cellular offenders endangering themselves and others. Scosche is offering a device that blocks cell usage in a car while the vehicle is in motion called CellCONTROL.
As with any new technology, compatibility is always a concern. All the same, Scosche insists that the CellCONTROL is broadly compatible and easy to use. Any car sold in the U.S. in 1996 or later was made with an OBD-II interface, which is all their system needs to work within the car. They also claim that it works with more than 1,200 different phones such as BlackBerry 4.5 and higher, Android 2.1 and above, yet the iPhone is unmistakably missing from their list.
Once installed, drivers will find that their phone is only accessible via bluetooth headset. Email, SMS and really everything that would take your eyes off the road is out of reach until the wheels stop spinning.
While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we wonder how many people will really use this device. It costs $129.95 on the company site, so after shipping and all costs, you’re likely to drop at least $150 when you can just as easily put the phone out of reach, say in a briefcase behind your seat.
The bluetooth headset should still reach at that range and you won’t be tempted to send snarky tweets while steering. Another obvious question: what about your passengers? Unless you’re the antisocial type or always drive alone, it would be a real nuisance for the co-pilot to be locked up as well.
That said, there are some great applications which are surefire selling points. Parents looking for a way to enforce safe driving habits probably wont bat an eyelash at a one-time expense to keep the kiddies safe. To sweeten the deal, the CellCONTROL gets a designated administrator, say mom or dad, and notifies them if someone tampers with the device.
It’s a good idea that parents will probably buy into, but unless insurance companies start offering discounts to drivers who install these things, it seems like a hard sell to the adult crowd.
Take the brand new Volvo FH16 out for a spin… but be careful of obstacles. That’s the idea behind Volvo Trucks’ new game for smartphones and tablets.
Released to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Volvo’s flagship truck, FH16 750 is an exciting and entertaining game that tests your lighting fast reflexes. The object of the game is to get rid of various obstacles that pop up and get in your way. To move to the next level (there are eight to get through), you need to accumulate enough points… and not crash your truck. The game also offers some interesting facts about the Volvo Trucks’ FH16-750.
“It’s easy to learn, but hard to master. If you’re good, you can get onto the high-score lists and boast about your results on Facebook or Twitter. There is also a contest on Worldtrucker, our online truck community, where weekly prizes are awarded,” said Niclas Hermansson, Digital Marketing Strategist at Volvo Trucks.
You can download the FH16 750 game for free at the Apple App Store, Android Market or Volvo Trucks’ game site To download the game, you need the iPhone 4/4S or iPad 2 or Android 2.3 phones or tablets with 480×800 screen resolution or higher.
Be sure to check out the game trailer after the jump.
If you weren’t addicted to your Crackberry before, you will be once you get your hands on the Porsche Design P’9981 Smartphone from Blackberry.
Encased in stainless steel and leather, the Porsche Design P’9981 comes with a host of luxe features that will make sure you’ll never want to put it down. With an enhanced 1.2 GHz processor and 8 GB of onboard memory, you’ll be able to browse the Internet to your heart’s content. In terms of technical features, it also comes with 720p HD video recording, dual band Wi-Fi, a built-in compass and access to a selection of exclusive apps.
The Porsche Design P’9981 Smartphone’s wide QWERTY keyboard means texting is a lot easier, and its Liquid Graphics 2.8” high resolution display touch screen ensures you won’t be squinting to read your messages.
Some special features that come with this cool Blackberry include the Wikitude World Browser app, which lets you find and send relevant information instantly. You’ll also get a limited edition PIN series, Near Field Communication and BlackBerry Tag, as well as access to BlackBerry App World 3.0.
No word on a price for the Porsche Design P’9981 Smartphone from Blackberry, but we’re guessing since it’s being touted as a special edition, it’ll come with a special edition price.
Distracted driving isn’t just limited to texting and talking on your cell phone. Now, more than ever, there are so many things that can shift our attention from the road like GPS units and MP3 players.
To cut down on all the potential distractions that surround you in your car, a company called ALPS has come up with a concept steering wheel that cuts out all those buttons and instead offers touch sensitive pads.
Designed to be safer for drivers, the ALPS wheel trackpad would let you centralize all of the commands you commonly use in your vehicle and put it right in the steering wheel. To check directions or change a tune, all it takes is the sweep of a finger, kind of like using a smartphone. This means you wouldn’t have to take your eyes off the road when you wanted to crank the volume on your stereo. In the future, the ALPS wheel trackpad could even incorporate handwriting recognition, which would make it much easier to type in directions to your GPS.
[Source: Oh Gizmo]
With every development of a new app, the smartphone is turning into a necessity. The latest to be created for car owners is the Car Recalls iPhone app.
For owners who want to find a better way to stay on top of all the recalls regarding their vehicles, they can refer to this software and search for recalls that date as early as 1950. New recalls that are issued with be notified to your phone as well.
As handy as this tool may be, the Car Recalls iPhone app does have some shortcomings. The app does not provide a contact number to get in touch with specialists that handle the recall, nor does it provide details on the consequences if one does not address the problem in a timely manner. Regardless, if your car is recalled, call your local dealer and book a service appointment.
The app isn’t free, but it does cost just $.99 and can be purchased here.
Well if you have the new Craftsman garage door with AssureLink, you can close your door using your smart phone, laptop or tablet.
The system works similarly to that used by some car companies to remotely unlock doors or start the car. This system will allow you to close your garage door as long as you have a working smart device.
What if someone is in the way as the door closes? The system has you covered, as it makes plenty of audible sounds, plus will re-open if its obstructed by an object, so no worries about crushing anyone.
This system will appeal to many, but it does come with a price. Craftsman will require you to register for this app and it has an annual user fee of $19.99. Not bad if you are in California, wondering if your garage door is open in Kansas.
[Source: USA Today]
Good news for parents – taking a stand against distracted driving, Sprint has just launched a new app that disables smart phone functions while driving.
The Sprint Drive First app locks your cell phone when the car is moving over 10 mph and sends calls automatically to voice mail. It won’t distract you with an annoying beep to let you know you just got a new email or text, and just to let the sender know you can’t get to your phone at the moment, the app sends out an automated, customizable message as a response. Once you come to a stop, the app can tell you’re not moving anymore, so it will unlock your cell phone. Even if you’re stopped in traffic, it won’t unlock your phone unless you’ve been sitting there for a few minutes.
If you want to override the app and turn on your phone, just hit the Exit or 911 buttons, but be warned teenagers – your parents will receive a notification. For even more control, parents can choose up to five numbers that can ring through the locked phone and three apps that can still be used when the car is moving, such as GPS or a music player.
Sprint is the latest cell phone carrier to fight distracted driving with a dedicated app. AT&T recently released a similar app for Blackberry users that sends an auto-reply to texts, emails and calls. And in January, T-Mobile unveiled an app that limits smartphone functions while driving.
Sprint Drive First will cost $2 a month and will only be available on Android. If you’ve got a Blackberry, don’t worry – a version of the app will be available for your phone in the near future.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
Imagine having a gadget in your car that could tell you how fast to go to avoid stopping at the next light. Well, now you can. A network of dashboard smartphones can monitor traffic lights and congestion helping drivers avoid idling, cutting fuel use by 20 percent.
SignalGuru collects and analyzes traffic data from images captured on dashboard smartphones, to inform drivers of the most efficient routes. The researchers installed iPhones on car dashboards in Cambridge, Massachusetts and in Singapore, where traffic lights have fixed schedules. SignalGuru can predict when lights will change with an error margin of two-thirds of a second.
The SignalGuru study won a best paper award at last month’s Association for Computing Machinery MobiSys conference, but the program would require many users to be a real solution for traffic congestion.
“If you can save even a small percentage of that, then you can have a large effect on the energy that the U.S. consumes,” Emmanouil Koukoumidis, a Princeton PhD candidate and visiting researcher at MIT, was quoted as saying.
Today, Nissan announced that it will be the first automaker to offer Quick Response codes on individual vehicle window stickers across its entire 2012 lineup. The QR codes link consumers to additional vehicle information, providing a free interactive shipping experience through smartphone devices.
“Nissan’s new QR code program puts important decision-making information at shoppers’ fingertips while on dealership lots, helping sales personnel make a more effective presentation, as well as providing customers with a ‘silent salesperson’ if they are shopping the lot after hours,” said Jon Brancheau, vice president, Marketing, Nissan North America. “It’s a true mass market effort across all products and all Nissan dealerships nationwide – part of our pledge to bring innovation to every aspect of the vehicle design, buying and ownership experience.”
Important information available through the QR codes includes:
- Specific vehicle information, including grade walk, key features and available accessories
- Video based product overviews
- Image gallery
- Incentive offers
- Dealer inventory
- Request a quote capability
- Join mailing list request
- Dealer location support
“Initial consumer response, based on early 2012 Altima QR code availability, has been extremely encouraging, with consumers viewing multiple pages and requesting follow-up information regarding current offers and inventory,” said Brancheau. “It’s one more way Nissan helps the consumer by delivering content on their terms.”
Something to allow city-dwellers, sports car owners, or high-school principals to sleep easy at night: a new app for iPhones, Droids, and Blackberries will warn you when some @#%! is messing with your car, allowing you to dispense justice as you see fit.
Budding Charles Bronsons can take comfort in knowing that this is the first specific app designed for cars. Developed by Intel, it connects to your car’s existing security system and begins working when that is triggered. It can stream video (placed in and around the car, presumably) to a cloud server through WiFi, directly to your phone, or record it for World’s Wildest Police Videos.
Intel is also checking to see if the app can share data with carmakers, but that level of privacy intrusion may get messy. There’s no word on when the app will be finished, but for anyone who uses faculty parking, hopefully before the school year starts.
Technology has progressed so much that sometimes it can be unsafe, even for your car. Mobile apps can now allow drivers to unlock car doors and remotely start their engines. However two hackers have exploited this convenience and now have access to vehicles with remote starters. Researchers Don Bailey and Mathew Solnik managed to use a laptop to hack the mobile app connection in two different car brands, and will demonstrate this at the upcoming Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.
When users push the unlock or remote start button on the phone, a signal is sent to a service center, which then sends a signal to the car telling it what to do. The researchers intercepted the signal and duplicated it, allowing them to have full access to the cars. The researchers have not revealed the car brands which have been hacked, but both GM and Mercedes-Benz were the first to market the smartphone app that offers these functions. However, the researchers have vowed not to reveal anything more, until automakers fix the security breach.
[Source: Network World]
Those of you who will become stranded in an Audi, never fear: the Audi Roadside App is here!
No more fumbling through your wallet for that ragged AAA membership card that expired in 1999, or dialing 911 and sheepishly admitting that nobody around you has been shot. For those Audi owners with an iPhone, Android or Blackberry—and let’s face it, many who own Audis will likely play with one—the app allows owners to call for the nearest tow truck and request specific service.
The app works by using GPS to locate the vehicle’s owner, then calling for the nearest tow service. Owners submit their vehicle registration data to Audi via the app, which “greatly shortens the time it takes to dispatch service.” Tin-hatters need not apply. The app works in conjunction with the 4-year complimentary roadside assistance available on new models; older Audi owners should have a hacksaw ready to sacrifice a limb in payment.
Chevrolet’s Volt plug-in hybrid isn’t the only vehicle that will get its own smartphone app. The Chevrolet Cruze compact will also join the bandwagon with an OnStar-supported program that gives owners new access to various functions of their vehicle via a smartphone.
Owners using the Chevy Connect feature on their phones will be able to monitor the fuel guage, door locks, tire pressures and activate the horns, lights and alarm system.
GM also announced that many of its 2011 vehicles from across the brand spectrum would be able to utilizie the Connect system, which could easily become an attractive selling feature to technology-savvy customers.
Get more Chevy Cruze news and info at CruzeTalk.com
[Source: Inside Line]
You multitask, so your cell phone should too. It’s a good thing the T-Mobile USA has just announced that the new Garminfone will be coming to a car near you soon.
This is the first Android-powered smartphone that comes equipped with a fully integrated Garmin premium navigation system. Set to hit stores soon, the full-touch 3G Garminphone is sleek and stylish, and sports large 3.5″ screen, so you can clearly see how to get to your destination. A few of the other cool features this phone will come with include:
- Integrated Navigation + Smartphone Experience: Garminfone delivers navigation capabilities beyond what other smartphones and standalone navigation devices provide. Customers can navigate to an address simply by clicking on it from a text message or e-mail, contact, calendar appointment, or web page. Garminfone can even remember where you are parked and navigate you back to your car. The 3-megapixel camera with autofocus automatically geotags images so you can navigate back to where your family vacation photos were taken, e-mail geo-tagged images to friends and family members, or post geo-tagged pictures on the Web for others to enjoy. Helpful Garmin travel applications such as dynamic, real-time traffic; weather local events; movie listings; and gas prices are pre-installed and easy to access and use.
- Garmin Navigation: Driving, walking and public transportation navigation with voice and on-screen directions and automatic re-routing are deeply integrated into the smartphone features of Garminfone to simplify navigating your daily life. On-board North American maps offer fast and reliable directions – whether in or out of cell phone coverage – and multiple overlapping positioning technologies ensure Garminfone customers have one of the best location and navigation experiences a smartphone can offer. In addition, Garminfone utilizes text-to-speech technology to speak street names, and the screen automatimobically switches between day and night modes for easier viewing while driving.
- Garmin Voice Studio: Garminfone is the first to feature Garmin Voice Studio, an Android application, which allows customers to record and share custom voice directions from family and friends.
This cell phone also includes a convenient charging window and dashboard mount that lets you navigate and charge the phone’s battery simultaneously. Other cool features include easy access to personal and work e-mail, including support for Microsoft Exchange e-mail, contacts and calendar; social networking; instant messaging; an advanced music player; and a 3-megapixel autofocus camera.
[Source: Press Release]
Tech addicts, the 2011 Ford Fiesta may be your next car. (Just as long as you don’t own an Apple iPhone, ’cause it’s not supported yet.) SYNC, the in-car technology platform developed by Microsoft in partnership with Ford, will soon allow for third-party cell phone applications to be controlled by voice commands and in-car controls.
Forget the fact that no other automaker is even close to offering such integration, Sync AppLink will be on production vehicles this year. AppLink works — at launch — on Android and BlackBerry phones, with titles such as Pandora Internet radio, Stitcher “smart radio”, and Orangatame’s Twitter client OpenBeak available.
“The growth in smartphone mobile apps has been explosive, and Ford has worked hard to respond at the speed of the consumer electronics market,” said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford’s Connected Services Organization. “SYNC is the only connectivity system available that can extend that functionality into the car. AppLink will allow drivers to control some of the most popular apps through SYNC’s voice commands and steering wheel buttons, helping drivers keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”
Once developers realize they can help distract drivers while on the road, this list is sure to grow exponentially. May we suggest an in-car fart app that can deliver a disgusting noise through a speaker closest to the intended victim?
OnStar has produced a new smartphone application providing Chevrolet Volt owners 24/7 connection to their cars.
Compatible with Apple’s iPhone, RIM’s Blackberry Storm and Motorola’s Droid smartphones, the app provides real-time data connection and control over vehicle functions such as programming charge times.
The OnStar Mobile Application retrieves information from the Volt such as battery charge level, odometer readings, miles per gallon and electric-only mileage, and displays them in real time on a smartphone.
Volt owners can receive text or email notifications for charge reminders, power interruptions and when the battery is fully recharged. Owners can also manually program the Volt to recharge at off-peak power usage times to take advantage of lower electricity rates.
Traditional OnStar features such as remote door lock, unlock, horn and light controls, typically available only by calling OnStar’s control center, will also be available for Volt owners through the application.
Volt owners with internet-ready phones other than the iPhone, Storm and Droid will be able to access the application through a mobile browser.
The OnStar Mobile Application will be available for the Volt’s launch. Online demonstrations for the Motorola Droid and Blackberry Storm are available at OnStarMobileDemo.com, while an iPhone demo app is available through the iTunes store.
Gallery: OnStar Chevrolet Volt App
Official release after the jump: