VW/Google SmileDrive app tries to put fun into your drive

SmileDrive screen

SmileDrive screen

BY GERRY MILES

Do we really want need a happy automotive app?

VW of American and Google think so.
The two have launched an Android-device enabled app alleged to promote fun and more smiles on every trip. Hey, I didn’t write that, they did. In its beta version, SmileDrive™ is ready for download exclusively in the Google Play store (www.play.google.com/store).“A lot of time is spent in the car today, whether it is for the daily commute to work or setting off with friends and family on a weekend camping trip,” said Kevin Mayer, Vice President of Marketing at Volkswagen of America. “We wanted to provide a way for consumers to add a little more flare to their road trips and a way to share the good times in their VW’s with their friends.”

SmileDrive connects to a user’s car—any kind of car—through Bluetooth® wireless technology, and runs in the background to track data for both everyday commutes and road trips. After a drive is complete, the app uses factors like location, distance, time and weather to deliver users their Smile Score and with “virtual stickers,” for unique accomplishments.

The app has re-imagined the classic “PunchDub” game, allowing people to collect “punches” each time they see a V-Dub, using the app. Drivers cannot interact with the app, or get notifications, while the car is in motion.
Roadtrips using SmileDrive can be catalogued via photos, maps, status updates on to what is called a Smilecast: think Facebook for a VW trip with a VW app and you’re on the right page. The travels are collected on a single URL that be later be shared with friends or family.SmileDrive was conceived as part of Google’s ongoing Art, Copy & Code project, which focuses on reimagining brand experiences for the connected world. “We’re exploring how brands can connect to consumers through a whole range of digital tools, whether that’s through ads, mobile apps, or experiences,” said Aman Govil, Art, Copy & Code Project Lead at Google.

SmileDrive Features

SmileDrive: Where's My Car

SmileDrive: Where’s My Car

• Seamless Sharing – The app is linked to the user’s Google+ account and friends can be invited to follow these trips online, commenting on photos and posts along the way. Everything recorded is shareable, should the user choose.

• Smilecast – Friends can either be invited to join along in the car via Google+, or watch the journey on the web. At the end of the trip, the driver receives a brief video compiling the highlights of their trip, which can then be shared with friends and family.

• Stickers – Users can earn fun, virtual bumper stickers when they unlock special achievements, such as the “Night Owl” sticker for late night drives. These can be shared on any social network.

• Punches
 – Users can play a re-imagined version of the classic “PunchDub” game. When two Volkswagen SmileDrive users encounter each other en route, the app will register a “virtual punch”.

• Smile Score – At the end of each drive, SmileDrive calculates the number of points earned while on the road. Points are a function of the number of punches, stickers earned, traffic conditions, weather, and more.

• Find My Car – By logging the vehicle’s last position, SmileDrive can help users find their car via Google Maps, and receive corresponding walking directions when available.

• Bluetooth® wireless technology – Through pairing the app with the car, drives are automatically recorded when the user starts and stops the vehicle. If the car doesn’t have Bluetooth technology, the app can be manually started and stopped before driving begins.

The app requires compatible Android device. Standard data rates apply.

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