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GM’s New App Turns Smartphones into Virtual Key

New app uses OnStar to access vehicle functions.

by on Jul.22, 2010

Well, does this have anything to do with selling cars? Comments requested.

The automotive world is going smartphone app crazy.

The latest to join the fray? General Motors will roll out smartphone apps – specialized apps geared for customers of its four remaining U.S. brands – this fall.

GM will release a new app for smartphones that will allow owners to access all of the functions of a traditional key fob. No longer will the car owner have to be within a certain distance to control vehicle.

Apps, Apt or Otherwise!

Say you park the car at the mall, but realize you forgot to lock it while shopping at Aeropostale. Just log in and send a remote lock signal to the vehicle.

This could also eliminate many of the calls subscribers make to have their vehicle unlocked by an OnStar advisor. So long as you don’t lock your phone in the car, you could just unlock it yourself.

A family attending an afternoon sporting on a hot summer day could remotely start the vehicle so it would be cool when they reach the parking lot. GM offers remote start on several vehicles, but the fob must be within range of the vehicle to work.

The app will also access other important data including fuel level, tire pressure, remaining oil life and other statistics about the vehicle.

“Because we know that each brand’s customers have different tastes, wants and needs, the apps will be very specifically tailored to offer them the services they value most,” said Joel Ewanick, GM’s new vice president of marketing.

A GM spokeswoman said the individual brands will begin introducing the apps within the next two months. At least initially, the apps will run on iPhone and Droid platforms, but not Blackberry. The spokeswoman said the company could add Blackberry capability in future versions, a weak assertion.

The OnStar mobile app services will be available to millions of drivers of the vast majority of vehicles in the 2011 Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC portfolios, including the just-launched Chevrolet Cruze and Cadillac CTS Coupe, and are currently functional on the iPhone and Android systems.
The Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC mobile applications will offer a variety of other features tailored specifically for each brand’s customers that will be revealed in totality when the brands begin bringing their apps to market in the months ahead.

Vehicle smartphone apps are a trend in the industry

Chrysler recently announced an app that will initially be offered in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but will later be available for the rest of its lineup as well. Chrysler’s app is geared for obtaining information about the vehicle, buying parts and accessories and connecting with other owners. Click here to see the story.

In October, Mercedes Benz Financial announced a new app that allows customers to access their accounts and pay their bill. Click here to read more.

GM had already announced a vehicle app for the Chevrolet Volt. First shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Volt owners can use the app to check the charging status of their vehicle as well as the other information that will be available for the rest of its vehicles. Click here for more about the Volt app.

Ford says its new MyFord Touch interface system for its Sync connectivity system will allow easier access to all smartphone apps, although the company has not introduced its own smart phone app yet. Click here to read more.

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One Response to “GM’s New App Turns Smartphones into Virtual Key”

  1. AutoTrends says:

    I am reminded abou a visit to Delphi over 15 years ago where they demo’d a way to call your car and start it and warm up or cool it with your cell phone, all this before they even thought up the idea of Onstar. Just think of where GM could have been if the bureaucrats had gotten on board.