Too cold to brave your driveway? There’s an app for that

As slimline as the iPhone is, things still get crowded in the pockets of modern folk leading busy lives. One new app aims to ease that crowding a little by removing the need to carry car keys.

Yes, as bizarre as it may sound, you can now start your car using an iPhone.

It’s a pretty simple idea: electronic key fobs already send commands to a car over the air, so an iPhone can do exactly the same thing. The Viper SmartStart system produced by Directed Electronics adds iPhone control to its existing set-up.

As with other remote start systems, there’s a fair bit you can do with the controls. The most obvious is switching the engine and heating on from the comfort of your home on a cold winter’s day. The system also lets you control the security system and open and shut the trunk.

However, because it’s controlled by the iPhone, the range of control is limited only by AT&T’s network rather than the 100 feet or so of most traditional systems. That brings a couple of advantages. If you’ve forgotten where your car is, the system will give you precise directions. And if you have a comedy sitcom spouse who is always locking their keys in the car, you’ll be able to come to their rescue without leaving the office, thanks to a multi-handset option. (Alternatively, rowing couples could repeatedly switch one another’s heating off.)

There is a pretty significant downside to the app though. To use it you’ll need to pay at least $299 for a special receiver to add to the in-car Viper remote start system. If you don’t already have the alarm, you can get it in a twin-package with the receiver for $499. And although the app is free to download, after the first year you’ll need to pay an annual subscription of $29.99.

[Viper SmartStart]


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