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MWC 2012: Smartphone Apps, Gadgets For Cars

Feb 29, 2012 (04:02 AM EST)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=232601569


If you're perfectly happy with your car and smartphone integration, you're lucky. But if your phone sometimes won't connect to your hands-free system or if you occasionally get lost, these apps and gadgets deserve your attention. Cobra, SuperTooth, Novatel, and CoPilot Live showcased new apps and devices at Mobile World Congress 2012, demonstrating how to make driving more enjoyable and safe. And if you don't mind a bit of Big- Brother-style monitoring, you could even cut your car insurance costs.

Mobile apps and gadgets developed by Cobra do everything from find your keys to report speed zones. The iRadar device adds new Cobra iRadar Community information to allow users to warn and report caution areas in real-time. Companion apps for iOS and Android display visual alerts from the detector. Cobra Tag is for people who constantly leave keys or other valuables behind. The sleek key fob can be attached to anything. Bluetooth powers the separation alarm that triggers whenever the phone and key fob are separated. Cobra Tag apps are available for Android, iOS and Blackberry.

Cobra also showed off the first smart charger for Android phones: Cobra JoyRide. With availability expected for July 2012, Joyride allows users to configure smartphone settings as a driver enters or exits the car. At the push of a button, drivers can launch GPS navigation, answer calls, or listen to music. The companion app's unique "Car Finder" mode provides walking directions back to where the phone was disconnected from the charger, ensuring you no longer waste time wandering around parking lots.

[ See our complete Mobile World Congress 2012 coverage, live from the mobile industry's hottest event. ]

How about a hands-free speakerphone that also streams music from your smartphone? Take a look at Crystal, SuperTooth's stylish new gadget. Crystal works with any Bluetooth A2DP-enabled smartphone and handles automatic pairing and multi-point connection. Additionally Crystal supports voice recognition dialing and can announce turn-by-turn navigation.

UBI, or usage-based insurance, customizes car insurance based on a driver's unique profile. Novatel and SeeControl demonstrated a system that focuses on ease-of-use and plug-and-play capabilities for consumers. The new Novatel Wireless Spider devices support capturing driver behavior data such as speed, miles driven, and possible accident or theft. The system also provides helpful tools for consumers such as diagnostics and oil change notifications.

CoPilot Live's GPS app is free and will be released soon for Android and iOS devices. Providing maps stored on the device for offline use, the app promises not to burn through a data plan. An optional in-app purchase upgrades the app to provide guided, turn-by-turn navigation as well as a 3-D map option and safety alerts.

Want more information on how to improve your driving experience? Click through to the slideshow for a showcase of phone apps and gadgets for the modern driver.




Cobra's new JoyRide is a smart charger for Android phones that lets users set custom settings for entering or exiting their cars. At the push of a button, drivers can launch GPS navigation, answer calls, or listen to music. The companion app's unique "Car Finder" mode provides walking directions back to where the phone was disconnected from the charger, ensuring you no longer waste time wandering around parking lots. JoyRide is expected to be available in July 2012.

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The Cobra Tag key fob has a button to sound an alert on a user's phone if it goes missing. The companion app can similarly find the key fob with an alert and also can display last known location information.

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iRadar by Cobra has been updated to include new Cobra iRadar Community information, providing enhanced information around speed traps, caution areas, and safety alerts. Companion apps for iOS and Android display visual alerts from the detector.

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Crystal by SuperTooth is compatible with all Bluetooth mobile phones. The slim speakerphone comes in various colors and attaches to a sun visor via a magnetic clip for ease of use.

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The SuperTooth HD speakerphone has a microphone noise canceller. This provides for a clearer reception in a noisy environment, and dual microphones give better audio quality, according to the vendor.

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Novatel's new Spider MT devices support a number of features targeted toward service providers and insurers, capturing driver behavior data such as speed, miles driven, and possible accident or theft. The system also provides helpful tools for consumers such as diagnostics and oil change notifications. The devices can even track things like harsh acceleration or idle time, and are designed to help reduce risk and eliminate fraud in insurance claims processing.

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CoPilot GPS is a free route planning and mapping app available Spring 2012 in the Android and iTunes App Stores. Upgrading to the full app (via in-app purchase) adds voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation as well as 3-D map views and safety camera alerts.

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O Car by Oxygen Radio is a fully-integrated unit specifically designed to integrate an iPhone into a car stereo system. It's also compatible with CoPilot Live GPS. Through a partnership with Renault, the combination of O Car and CoPilot Live will be available as a dealer add-on soon for the Renault Twingo.

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Ford's B-MAX vehicle, which includes the Ford SYNC voice-control system, is being introduced to the European market. The B-MAX includes the choice of a new 1.0-liter Ford EcoBoost engine or a 1.6-liter TDCi diesel engine.

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Ford showed off its Evos concept car, which integrates with many technologies to adapt to the driver's lifestyle. Evos can take into account your calendar and driving habits and even pre-warm or cool the interior before you walk out the door.

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Nissan has an app to help customers understand how to set and update properties of its LEAF electric car. From the mobile interface, drivers can change climate control, activate charging, and check the car's status. The app is available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry devices and requires a Nissan CARWINGS subscription.

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