Mobile World Congress 2016 technology round-up

As manufacturers reveal ever-more car-based technology at the Mobile World Congress, we round up the major debuts from this year…

Cars aren’t just cars anymore: they’re technology hubs, communication centres and even mobile offices (as long as you’re sat in the back). This has led to car manufacturers linking up with technology companies to come up with innovative and advanced in-car gadgets.

This kind of thing is no longer exclusively unveiled at motor shows, either (although next week’s Geneva extravaganza should be as a big as ever). Instead, technology events such as the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona are increasingly being used by car brands to show off their latest advances.

From wireless connectivity, to the latest infotainment developments, car manufacturers have revealed a number of innovations at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC). Here, we round them all up.

Skoda wireless MirrorLink connectivity

Skoda used MWC 2016 to showcase its new wireless MirrorLink smartphone connectivity system. MirrorLink is a system – similar to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay – that allows specific smartphone features – including certain apps and music – to be controlled using a car’s infotainment system, usually through a dashboard screen.

This allows you to hook your car up to things like a satellite navigation app if it doesn’t have its own system, as well as viewing text messages completely legally. It also lets you play the music on your phone on the car’s stereo.

With existing systems, however, you need to connect your phone to the car with a USB cable for this to work. Now, Skoda – in collaboration with tech companies RealVNC and TechniSat – has developed a wireless version. It connects to the car using wi-fi, rather than a USB cable, so you can keep your phone in a pocket or other cubbyhole rather than having to keep it close to the centre console. You could also keep it in the ‘Phonebox’ wireless inductive charging bay soon to be rolled out across the Skoda range.

SEAT ‘connected car’ advances

SEAT used the show to announce two new mobile apps and some other developments. The first app is being co-developed with Accenture and is still some way off being available to buyers. It’s designed to connect future SEATs to the so-called ‘Internet of Things’. Called the MY SEAT app, it allows the car to send you remote updates on its status. For instance, it can let you know if it’s running low on oil, petrol, or other fluids or experiencing a mechanical problem. It can even direct you to the right page in the manual for instructions to fix it.

As well as all this, the MY SEAT app lets you know when a service is due and how much it’s likely to cost. It’ll even show you all your nearby dealers and get quotations from them so you can see which is cheaper. You’ll even be able to book a service using the app.

Using car-to-home connectivity, it’ll allow you not only to set the temperature in the car before you get in, but also set your home’s thermostat when you’re on the way – so the house if fully warmed up fully when you pull into the driveway.

Also revealed at the Mobile World Congress was a collaboration between SEAT, Samsung and SAP, aimed at showcasing the connected car of the future by combining another mobile app and digital key-sharing functionality.

It uses the Samsung Pay function (similar to Apple Play and already offered in South Korea and the US) to let you pay for parking using the existing SEAT Connect App. Initially, it’ll only work at certain car parks, but this number is expected to grow with time.

Lastly, there’s the digital key-sharing function. This allows you to allocate your car key to someone else for a set period of time. This is done using a smartphone app or wearable technology that’ll give other people access to your car (as long as they’re insured, naturally) without you having to be there to hand the keys over. The car’s locks, ignition and electric windows can all be controlled using the app, which, we’re assured, is completely secure.

Revised Nissan Leaf with new infotainment system

Nissan showed off its revised Leaf electric car, which has increased the model’s range from 124 to 155 miles per charge and also features an updated Connect EV infotainment and telematics system.

This will let you do a number of different things, including controlling certain aspects of the car. With the right smartphone app, you’ll be able to remotely start the car’s charging cycle as well as its heater up, so it’ll be fully charged and warm inside by the time you get in.

In addition to controlling aspects of your car, it’ll also give you a detailed analysis of what state the battery is in, how much charge it has, how far that charge will get you and how much charge is likely to be left when you reach your destination.

It’ll also be able to tell you where the closest charging points are and how much CO2 you’ve saved during your journey by not using a traditional petrol or diesel car. It’ll analyse your driving, too, advising you how to be more efficient and comparing your statistics to those of other Leaf owners worldwide.

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