Volkswagen Adds Siri Functionality Both Inside and Outside the Car
Volkswagen announced Monday the integration of Siri in two ways. The first is in their VW Car-Net mobile app. The app is available now with iOS 12 on Apple devices. Users of the VW Car-Net mobile app can now access Siri outside of the car to lock and unlock their vehicle, check estimated mileage with the fuel or charge left in the vehicle, and enable the Flash or Honk & Flash commands.
The second integration of Siri allows users to make use of Siri Shortcuts. The app offers several shortcuts that can be added to Siri with a personalized phrase, including a start/stop for charging, defroster, and climate control. For example, users would be able to use a “where is my car” command or set a temperature. If consumers wanted to use the Siri Shortcuts in the car, however, they would need to subscribe to Car-Net, VW’s infotainment system, which provides access to Apple CarPlay. Abdallah Shanti, EVP, Global Chief Information Officer Volkswagon Brand & Car-IT comments,
We are constantly looking at innovative ways to make VW Car-Net more convenient and relevant for our customers. With Siri Shortcuts, creating voice commands to use with our mobile app was a great opportunity to do just that. Integration with Siri helps our drivers keep eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
There is also a VW Car-Net app for smartwatches, and it is supported by select Apple Watch and Android Wear OS’. The smartwatch app allows users to perform essentially the same functions as the mobile app. The Car-Net App-Connect facilitates in-car smartphone integration and allows users to run select smartphone apps directly on the vehicle’s display through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. Some VW Car-Net features are not free, requiring a subscription, and are only available on select models.
VW Car-Net Explained
Volkswagen’s infotainment system, called Car-Net, is a paid subscription service that is broken into 4 sections. Car-Net costs $199/year, or users can opt to pay $17.99/month. App-Connect, Guide & Inform, Security & Service and e-Remote make up Car-Net. Not all models offer all four features. App-Connect encompasses the inclusion of MirrorLink, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. So the inclusion of Siri functionality in the Car-Net connected-car mobile app allows users to use limited Siri functionality outside of the car without subscribing to Car-Net. The option for outside of the car Siri functionality is a great way for both Siri and VW to increase usage of their services. VW Car-Net is a feature available in all 2018 and 2019 models, here is a list:
- Tiguan Limited
- Golf SportWagen
- Golf Alltrack
- Golf GTI
- Beetle Convertible
To check the availability of App-Connect, Security & Service, Guide & Inform, and e-Remote, in each model, check out these charts VW made.
Not the First, or Last, Voice-Auto Integration to be Seen
The functionality included by this application grazes the surface of the potential for voice integration in the car and is limited to mainly outside of the car telematics integration. Many auto applications with voice are limited to outside functionality of the car as well. Customers seem to be more interested in in-car voice integration, however. Voicebot’s 2018 Consumer Adoption Report found that the most common use-case for smartphone voice assistant users in the U.S. was while driving, at 62%. That is a large market when considering about 77 million U.S. adults use a voice assistant monthly while in the car. VW has the right idea about making a mobile app with Siri Shortcuts, but for those not buying a new car or those not interested in a subscription service for limited functions, it misses the mark.
Competition is everywhere, with Mercedes-Benz’s MBUX platform that features Houndify, allowing drivers to perform tasks like getting sports scores, asking for restaurant recommendations and switching on a heads-up display. BMW integrates both Alexa and Cortana, Microsoft Office 365 as well as Skype for Business, in addition to learning preferences over time. Audi, Toyota, and Ford have similar Alexa integrated vehicles. Amazon has also announced the Echo Auto, an in-car Alexa-powered device with Bluetooth or 3.5mm port connectivity. The Alexa Auto SDK was launched in August, giving developers a toolkit that can adapt Alexa’s NLP to infotainment systems.