9 Tech Features to Look For in a Connected Car

Automakers are rolling out more advanced connected-car technologies as the market’s desire to connect continues to grow. Luckily for us, expensive luxury brands are not the only ones that stepping up their game.

So if you’d like your next car to be a more connected car, here are 9 tech features to look for!

1. Telematics

Telematics EvolutionLPH Telemantics

GM’s OnStar system was introduction in the mid-1990s and has caused other automakers to create similar services. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, telematics systems can lock/unlock doors, open/close windows, and use the remote engine start feature from your phone, as well as provide vehicle maintenance reminders and diagnosis. Some systems even offer a Wi-Fi hot spot.

2. Bluetooth Phone

In-Car Tesla Bluetooth

In the past, a car’s Bluetooth connections were limited to phone conversations, Now, newer systems can download your smartphone’s phonebook and call history for easier use.

3. Audio Streaming

In-Car Audio Streaming

Audio streaming allows allows you to play music from your devices’ hard drive or apps (i.e. Pandora, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, and Spotify). In addition, most modern Bluetooth connections offer audio streaming from your smartphone or Bluetooth-capable MP3 player. Music streaming via USB ports is another option, using your phone or music player’s charge cord to connect the device to the car.

4. Text Messages

In-Car Text Reader

To reduce distracted driving, text messaging functions have been introduced into some Bluetooth systems that read incoming messages aloud and offer a list of pre-written replies notifying the sender that you’ll get back to them later. Newer systems allow the driver to send custom messages via a voice-to-text feature.

5. Navigation

In-Car Navigation System

Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology has come a long way since it first came to market. Newer GPS systems have developed built-in directories that can search for Points of Interests (POI) such as gas stations, shopping centers, restaurants, and entertainment venues. In addition, some systems can monitor traffic flow and obstructions in real-time and can reroute if needed for the quickest arrival time. The only downside, some of these more detailed systems sometimes require a subscription to maintain access to traffic data.

6. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also new platforms that can be used for Bluetooth audio streaming. Even though Bluetooth audio streaming allows audio playback from your device, users still need to control the apps from their phone, which results in taking your eyes off the road and hands off of the wheel. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow the user to control their smartphone apps from the vehicle’s touchscreen, console-mounted controller, steering wheel controls, or voice commands.

7. In-Car Entertainment Systems

In-Car Visual Entertainment Center

Rear seat entertainment systems have been helping parents on long road trips for years. Modern systems are better integrated into the vehicle and more adaptable than ever. Along with built-in DVD players, most new systems have video game system hookups as well as headphones so the parents can have peace and quiet.

8. Mobile Apps

In-Car Mobile App

Some auto brands have added app-based control over their vehicles. With the app downloaded to a smartphone or smartwatch, parents can set audio volume limits, speed warnings, and prevent active safety tech from being deactivated. Apps for electric vehicles (EV) and Plug-In Hybrids (PHEV) can also provide battery charge status, charge time, range, and more.

9. USB-Wireless Phone Charging

In-Car Wireless Charging Pad

USB ports may be standard in more recent vehicles, but they’re not all created equal. Some new cars provide ‘fast charge’ USB ports, which can provide more power than a normal port, allowing compatible devices to charge even faster. Some cars now offer wireless charging stations for a less cluttered device-charging experience.