Sunday, May 2, 2010

How does that iPhone App Open that Trunk?

I was watching a little TV one day when an ad came on for the Apple iPhone. If you've been reading this blog, you know I love my iPhone and like to search out new and useful apps. The one app that caught my eye this week was in the commercial called "Family Man". You can see the commercial I'm talking about here. Clearly, it shows a man, using his iPhone, to open the trunk of his car. Well, my question was "how did he do that?"

The key to this action is an app called Viper developed by a company called Directed, which does a lot of things: start your car, open your trunk, lock and unlock your car etc. Very cool, right?

However, all the stars have to be aligned correctly. First, you need a car that is "compatible" with the device. Then you have to buy a hardware device for $299 from Best Buy and install it in your car. (Installation is another charge. On the Apple Web Site, a reviewer said it cost him $199 to get the device installed.) If you don't have a compatible car, you can get the functionality through a "complete smart start system," which costs in the neighborhood of $500.

After you've chosen which device you need, you can use the "free" Viper SmartStart App to unlock your car, start it remotely on cold days,  trigger the panic alarm etc. Oh, yes, after the first year there is a yearly charge of $29.99 for the privilege of using a 3G network to pop the trunk on your car.

Is it worth it? You'll have to decide. You can activate the system from anywhere, so I can imagine that people who travel often and worry they didn't lock the car might go for it.  There is a security advantage. If someone steals your car, you can activate a "kill switch" and  as soon as they hit the breaks, the car shuts off. You also have to realize that this app is only as good as the network. AT&T has some problems in some areas, and it might not be worthwhile to install this app where you know the network gets overloaded and drops calls.

The bottom line, Boomers. Viper is cool, for sure, but also pricey. The company says it also has modules that are compatible with Blackberries. I'm holding off on this one. It's just not worth it to me.

Viper has a good demo of its system at this website.


Dennis Francis said...

I want the app that washes the dishes my kids neglect in the sink or at the table. I want the app that gets them to brush their teeth every night not just when I have to remind them.

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