NYAS ’10: Smart iPhone app to include Google 411 assist

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Developed by Mercedes-Benz software engineers, the Smart application for the iPhone not only adds features like navigation to the car, but also does something the iPhone usually can’t do on its own: multitask.

Demonstrated at the New York auto show, the software is part of a package that will include a cradle than needs to be installed by dealers. The application divides the iPhone screen into larger, legible quadrants, rather than using tiny icons that might tend to distract the driver (or distract the driver even more). The four on-screen buttons cover media, phone, map and assist functions.

The phone button takes drivers to the usual hands-free calling functions, while the quadrant entitled maps takes drivers to a full, turn-by-turn navigation program based on Navteq’s maps.

Like built-in nav systems, it will mute a call in favor of spoken instructions, and it’s here where the multitasking function comes in handy. Unlike other nav-only applications for the iPhone, users don’t have to choose between chatting on the phone or following the nav system.

It can run both simultaneously because the developers built both functions into a single application. In other words, the iPhone doesn’t know it’s multitasking.

Also tapping into the iPhone’s abilities, the Smart app can play music from the phone or tune in countless Internet radio stations from around the world using the vTuner service. Again, because it can trick the iPhone into multitasking, the program will automatically mute the music for instructions from the navigation part of the program.

Lastly, the car assistance section includes Google 411 for free searches of local points of interest via voice instructions, and it will find and call a local dealer should the Fortwo break down.

Best, however, is the automatic car finder feature. Like the coming iTag software for Android phones, the Smart software automatically marks the car’s location when the iPhone is removed from the car’s cradle.

The company says the software will be available by June for $9.99, but a price for the cradle and professional installation hasn’t been set yet.

Courtesy: NewYork Times.

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