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A car's a car, but the car's apps make the difference

Melissa Riofrio | Jan. 13, 2014
Car apps: In a few years, we'll wonder how we did without them, just as we have with smartphones and apps since Apple introduced the iPhone seven years ago (January 9, 2007, in fact). These apps can be used either to control basic car functions or do something while in the car, such as finding a pizza place wherever you are, or ordering the pizza.

Right now, the only other Ford car with an app is Lincoln's upcoming 2015 MKC crossover, with its MyLincoln Mobile app. This car was announced in December and isn't even out yet. When I asked Frykman why remote-control apps hadn't been rolled out to Ford's entire product line (minus the charging stuff that the gas-powered cars don't need), Bill gave me a little smile and counseled patience. Grrr!

Find the pizza and order it safely with an app
This really happened: While visiting the Ford booth, I stopped in front of a huge banner showing the logos of all the apps now available with Ford's SYNC AppLink (the company announced some new ones at CES). A guy appeared beside me and asked me nicely to move over a bit. I obliged, and he posed so his friend could photograph him pointing at one of the logos—here's me with my car app! He was pointing at the Domino's pizza-ordering app.

Ford and GM continue to be in the forefront of app development. Ford's even encouraging developers to tinker with an open-source platform to generate new ideas faster (but safely removed from the in-car product). At CES, Chevrolet announced its AppShop, which will open with about a dozen apps, ready to be enjoyed with the 4G LTE connectivity that will be integrated into 2015 models later this year. Chevy also showed off the performance apps for the new Corvette Stingray at CES (and we'd already tried the performance apps for the Dodge Challenge SRT). And Volvo joined the party with the launch of its Sensus Connect infotainment system, which includes apps for music, parking, and even Wikipedia.

hyundai genesis best car tech 580
The 2015 Hyundai Genesis will have a remote-control app, an app store, and even a Google Glass app.

Hyundai got the jump on them all with one thing, though: Google Glass. At CES the company announced that its 2015 Hyundai Genesis would have an app for that. The Glass app currently mirrors what the phone-based, Genesis Intelligent Assistant remote-control app can do—but that's a lot: In addition to controlling the car and its Blue Link infotainment system, the app can pull data from your phone and online sources to send proactive reminders related to your driving plans, such as checking traffic and suggesting you leave a little earlier for your appointment. As for the Glass app, Hyundai promises that it will continue to evolve into "a special experience created specifically for the new wearable technology." Top that.

Some high-tech hope for older cars
All is not lost for people with older cars, either. Pioneer's new NEX infotainment systems can replace your existing (2-DIN, or double-height) car stereo and bring a touchscreen interface plus an app store.

 

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