New app shows gulf between US and Europe connected cars

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Indy Lifestyle Online

European automaker Opel has launched its first iPhone app - although compared to some of the flashy functionality seen in the US, it could be a bit of a disappointment.

The Opel FlexApp launched January 21 as a suite of handy apps for drivers, but there is no mention of integration with the vehicle itself as is rapidly becoming commonplace from US automakers such as Ford, Nissan and even Opel's sister brand from General Motors, Chevrolet.

Instead, FlexApp is described as a "bundle of tools," offering everything from a tool to remind you where you're parked to a shopping list creator or "mood player," which can create playlists that vary depending on the mood you're in.

Opel says that the FlexApp will be enriched with further tools such as a city guide to "provide an app with a long-life character," promising that the app will grow each year with more tools - one of which will hopefully be the ability to communicate with the vehicle.

European automakers are already lagging behind their US counterparts when it comes to remotely controlled car functions, something very much a hot topic within the US auto industry over the past year or so.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, Toyota unveiled Entune, an app that connects smartphone to car to add functionality such as search engines, Pandora internet radio and OpenTable to the dashboard.

Chevrolet has gone one step further with the iPhone app it intends to release for the Chevrolet Volt, which allows remote starting and "preconditioning" (heating, air conditioning, etc.) of the vehicle without being in it.

With the Opel Ampera, the European version of the Chevy Volt, due for release late this year, fans of connected cars will be hoping some of that functionality filters through to prove exactly how flexible FlexApp is.

Download the app: http://itunes.apple.com/app/flexapp/id409786653

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