VW’s Car-Net service has offered a variety of the standard “smart” features car manufacturers have built into their mobile apps since its 2014 model year. Features like remote control of climate settings, checking if you left your windows open or where you parked, and fuel/battery monitoring are all available from iOS and Android apps (which, if we’re being honest, have design elements from both platforms that make it look really odd), and as soon as the new iOS app update rolls out they’ll be on your wrist, too.
All of those features are nifty, but not what I would call must-haves. The feature that should get some attention is speed and boundary alerts on your wrist. Looking back on my teen driver years (which were right before we were all super-connected with smartphones), my parents had no idea where the heck I was most afternoons or how responsible I was with the several-ton hunk of metal on wheels they so graciously provided for me.
With the Car-Net app, you can set up alerts when a specific driver in the family exceeds a set speed cap or leaves a certain location boundary. Just having that on your phone is fantastic for a parent, but it’s easy to lose notifications in the deluge of things pinging you on your phone.
The Apple Watch is a different story — the point is to prune incoming notifications down to just the updates that matter most. Assuming you actually put in that effort, the Car-Net messages will really stand out; if they get too annoying, it’s probably time to have a chat with the teen about safe driving or keeping you in the loop about their whereabouts.
The other feature that I could see being regularly handy is remote unlocking from the Watch (for cars from the 2016 model year). Yes, we already have fobs for unlocking doors or popping the trunk as we walk up to our cars, but just as Apple Pay on the Watch keeps you from getting out your phone or wallet to pay in line while carrying bags or an antsy toddler, eliminating the need to dig into a coat pocket or bag to find your keys should eliminate a common frustration.