Automotive enthusiasts have been lamenting lately that these kids today don’t want cars; they want devices. That may be true, but there is a way to have both: develop apps for the Apple Watch (and other soon-to-be-sold smart watch platforms) that work with your car.
A few early adopters — so far all German companies — have created or integrated apps that will connect your wrist with your car. Basic functions for all these apps include locking the doors and finding where you parked your car, but each manufacturer adds a bit of a twist to its app:
- BMW’s app works with its electric i-Series vehicles to monitor charge status and range as well as provide navigation — including public transit options if that would be faster than driving.
- The Porsche Car Connect system uses the Apple Watch as a second screen for checking the sunroof in a sudden rainstorm and, if you’ve got a plug-in Porsche, for checking on the charge.
- Mercedes-Benz has the MB Companion app, which gives complete door-to-door navigation instructions so you don’t have to check a map to find out which way to walk once you’ve parked.
- Volkswagen’s app allows you to check fuel status, whether that’s diesel or electrons, and “monitor certain drivers” (new drivers, we’re looking at you) via alerts from the Car-Net app on Apple Watch.
Whether your current car will play nice with your new Apple Watch depends. Several 2014 Volkswagens have Car-Net already, though not every function, such as remotely locking the doors, will work quite yet. Mercedes says that this fall, cars with COMAND Online will be able to use the app.