The car on your smartphone

While there are numerous apps in the market that offer varying degrees of connected car features, what makes Honda Connect different is that it comes with a connected device (a dongle) that makes the app most comprehensive in the market.

By: | Published: February 1, 2016 12:39 AM

During the recent Honda Drive to Discover rally in Rajasthan—where we drove the CR-V, City and Jazz cars from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer and back to Delhi—as I finished the first leg and switched off the car, my phone beeped. On the screen, an app showed the route taken, towns crossed, average speed and idling time during the whole trip. It also showed the stops being made on the way and whether or not I crossed the speed limit applicable on those roads. The app is called Honda Connect and it is available on iOS and Android platforms for free download. Now while there are numerous apps in the market that offer more or less similar features, what makes Honda Connect different is that it comes with a connected device (a dongle) that has been exclusively developed for Honda by Minda i-Connect. To use Honda comprehensively, this device must be installed in the car. It is currently being offered by Honda dealerships to Jazz, City and CR-V customers at a price of RS 2,999. The device also comes with one-month free subscription, after which there are annual subscription charges of R2,500. Also, while globally there are a number of after-market devices available—such as Mojio, Delphi-Verizon, Carvoyant, Automatic, Zubie, among others—that have similar features, the Honda Connect is a first-of-its-kind device launched by a car manufacturer in India. In India, the closest that comes to Honda Connect is Ford SYNC—a factory-installed, integrated in-vehicle communications and entertainment system that allows users to make hands-free telephone calls, control music and perform numerous other functions with the use of voice commands. But, unlike Honda Connect, Ford SYNC cannot be installed in a Ford vehicle that does not come factory-fitted with SYNC. A couple of years ago, Hyundai India had launched a mobile app to assist its customers with all forms of service support, service network, car service calculator and service appointment with just a few clicks. Called Hyundai Care, this GPS-enabled app also facilitates an effortless dealer search on a real-time basis. Similarly, Maruti Suzuki offers an app called Maruti Care, which, among other things, takes care of needs such as car service, maintenance and dealer network. Last year, Jaguar Land Rover India launched a smartphone-based connected car option called InControl Apps, which was developed in conjunction with Bosch. Mercedes-Benz India, too, has an app called myMBFS, which not only gives customers access to the world of Mercedes-Benz, but also helps them in their purchase and finance decisions. However, as of now, Honda Connect comes across as the most comprehensive and an integrated approach towards connecting the car to the driver/owner. Now, if you install only the app, the various features available are service booking/alerts; feedback system which allows users to provide direct feedback to the company; manual SOS to let friends and family know your location; pit stops for searching nearest Honda dealer or fuel station; insurance and pollution certificate renewal reminders; document wallet to keep soft copies of documents related to the car; and fuel log. But what makes Honda Connect different is the connected device, which gives users access to a number of safety and security features, such as: Impact alert: The sensor inside the connected device measures the car’s 3D orientation a hundred times in a second and its inbuilt algorithm, the company claims, can detect an impact possibly due to strong jerk, physical knock or collision. The impact alert feature activates Honda’s call centre to generate automatic assistance from company representatives. Locate my car: This feature enable customers to locate their car at a single click, as the device picks the car's location every few seconds. Comes handy especially in a large parking lot. Trip analysis: It provides information and statistics that the customer needs to optimise their driving behaviour, including route taken, average speed and idling time. It also lets them know the stops being made or harsh driving undertaken. My car’s health: This vehicle health monitoring feature, in case of technical trouble related to engine and battery, displays the car trouble code along with its description. In case of likely defects, customers can get assistance from the company call centre. Share my location: It lets friends and family know the exact location of the car in real-time. Clearly, while cars are getting smarter and are increasingly becoming software-driven, there are now standalone devices available which are further smartening up the whole driving experience. Connected cars Honda Connect is an intelligent automotive app for smartphones to connect customers to their car, family and Honda. Supports connected car features enabled by a connected device that one has to install in the car. This connected device has been developed by Minda i-Connect and is being offered at Honda dealerships to all new customers of Jazz, City and CR-V. The company claims it makes a customer’s ownership experience safer, more convenient and enjoyable.

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