GM launches free car-key smartphone app
With the RemoteLink app, remote door locking and engine start features are standard across the entire General Motors 2014 range.
By simply downloading the app to their Apple or Android device, drivers will be able to remotely operate their new vehicle from anywhere as long as they have a wireless or cellular connection.
Despite not having the same reputation for automotive innovation as many of its European, Japanese and even US competitors, GM can claim to be one of the first car companies to realize the benefits of connected cars and of the potential of smartphone apps.
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Its OnStar infotainment system, which provides navigation, entertainment, emergency services and hands-free phone calls, was one of the first on the market and also one of the first to use a real-life rather than virtual assistant. Simply press the button, speak to the switchboard operator and he or she will send turn-by-turn directions to the car's sat nav system.
Features such as remote locking and unlocking; sounding the horn; turning lights on and off; and engine start are usually paid options, even on executive cars, and while GM is making them standard features for any new OnStar-equipped car through the app, the company is clearly hoping that the benefits will tempt customers to pay for other 'premium' app features.
Additional paid-for features include remote diagnostics (being able to use a smartphone to check oil pressure and fuel levels etc); the ability to plan a route and send the directions to the car; and a one-touch connection to an OnStar advisor for both simple and emergency requests.
GM has guaranteed that the free features of the app will remain so for five years. All a customer has to do to turn their phone into a remote key fob is to take order of a 2014 GM vehicle, download the app via Google Play or Apple's App Store and agree to the terms and conditions. Thirty-six 2014 model year GM vehicles across the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac brands are currently compatible with the RemoteLink mobile app.