Techno savvy goes mobile

2012-04-13 12:57

Buying an iPad charger for your car may just prove to be pointless soon. That’s because the technology in the state-of-the-art cars rolling off the assembly line looks like it is going to make using a mobile device in your car obsolete.

But this tempting new development doesn’t extend to other smart phones – strictly Apple.

The Germans are the fore-runners of these innovations on our shores, but others are catching up.
Mercedes-Benz has the Comand Online, Mini and BMW have Connected, and now Audi is the latest local car maker to join the race with their Connect.

The likes of Toyota also feature this kind of technology internationally, so hopefully it will make its way here soon.

The Audi A4 has been given a nip and tuck, the highlight of which is the upgraded multimedia infotainment system (MMI). Audi Connect includes navigation via Google Earth, and the car itself is a wi-fi hotspot, a first in the industry.

This means you can use your iPhone or iPad to surf the net via the roof-mounted aerial - and it can host eight mobile devices at once. But, as a safety feature the driver can’t update his Facebook status while on the move. The system will also be available in other models soon.

The browser is also voice activated, so the metro cops won’t catch you wrestling with your phone.

Bad news is that it’s not a standard feature and will set you back R21 300 for the 3G MMI Navigation system and R6 100 for the Bluetooth connectivity.

Mini and BMW
As they are from the same stable, Mini and BMW share similar technology - Mini Connect and BMW ConnectedDrive, respectively - in the new 3-Series, Mini Coupe and Roadsters.

BMW ConnectedDrive has a warning system for would-be lane stradlers, as well as internet and navigation features. So you download the app on your iPhone, get into your car and sync the two systems.

Mini features a dynamic music function which makes the rhythm and volume of the preloaded music adjust to how fast or slow the car is going. So if you’re driving like a lunatic, you can expect the base to throb as the tempo will increase and the volume will get louder.

Users can also have Facebook and Twitter posts read out loud and send sms’ using the voice-activation tool. You can also listen to Ryan Seacrest on KISS FM or the BBC World Service using the web radio function, which can pick up stations anywhere in the world.

The Connected package will cost you between R25 000 and R30 000 depending on the model.

Out of the four manufacturers, the Mercedes-Benz service is the simplest to use, but also the most boring of the lot. Called the Comand Online system, it was launched in July last year with the C-Class. For an extra R22 600, it is also costly. You get the navigation system, a six-disc DVD changer and the liguatronic voice control system into the bargain.

This system gives users access to Google locations, the weather and full internet browsing, internet radio and social networking.

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