Let car manufacturers teach you how to build a truly clever app

Car manufacturing is an extremely competitive industry as it is. Challenged with recession, even more so. But it’s also an industry at the forefront of innovation and no stranger to pioneering new technologies.

Cars may not be your first association when you hear “mobile”, but the two go together so nicely that most brands in motoring have used the mobile revolution to cleverly boost their own numbers. Apps, from racing games to smart safety tools, are marketing tool and innovation driver at the same time.

Here are some motoring brands that show how to build a truly clever mobile app.

BMW

For Fast and the Furious fans, BMW’s M Power app measures vehicle acceleration using your iPhone’s built-in accelerometer. As you drive, the app presents you with the hard facts, including speed, forward acceleration and travel time for specified distances. That’s interesting facts and added awareness (which equals safety)! The app will work for any car, so don’t let not being a BMW driver keep you from downloading it.

Chevrolet

OnStar remote link turns your phone into a remote control to your car. Features include locking or unlocking your car, controlling the lights, sending driving directions to an in-car navigation system in advance, and even checking information such as mileage, fuel range, and tire pressure remotely. The downside is that the app will only work for Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC owners with a 2010-2013 model year.

Jaguar

Fancy building your own, individual Jaguar? It’s possible with the iConfigurator app, which recreates the full vehicle configuration process. Users are then given the option to share their configurations on social networks. Jaguar have also unveiled a used car locator. By typing www.m.used.jaguar.co.uk into your mobile browser, you can search through their comprehensive stock list of Jaguars.

Mercedes

Forgot to lock your car or locked your keys inside? That’s yesterday’s problem. The handy little Mbrace app allows Mercedes drivers to lock or unlock the car’s doors remotely. Mbrace also gives you the option to find a vehicle on the map if you’ve “mis-parked” it, as long as the car is within a mile of your own location. It’s safe, too – the system validates the user’s credentials prior to allowing access to the application.

Seat

Seat’s Insurance claim reporting app takes away the burden of filling out insurance claims from the driver. Through the app, you can report an incident or make a claim and the Seat team will then take over. They will liaise with your motor insurance company and manage the entire claim process for you. …Well, that’s a load off our minds!

Toyota

The ParkSmart iPhone app conveniently utilises push technology to make the annoyance of parking tickets a distant memory. It comes with two simple functions to ease your parking experience: It displays a meter timer reminder to let you know when your parking time has almost expired, and it lets you know where you’ve parked your car.

Volkswagen

The GTI racing game was launched during the 35th anniversary of the Golf GTI. The game allows users to pick a car from the whole model-range of the Golf GTI, from the first 1976 edition all the way to the current 2011 GTI 35 edition. This virtual driving experience presents itself through world-known racing venues.

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