Imagine driving to an important meeting when a traffic jam puts a wrench in your schedule. You wonder if leaving the house earlier would have made a difference, as vehicles slowly crawl along the road.
German automaker BMW believes that kind of irritation will soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a smartphone app that can alert users to leave for destination earlier, by calculating expected driving time and current traffic conditions.
Once inside the car, data from the BMW Connected app automatically syncs with BMW's in-car navigation system, which maps out the best route to take. The driver can send a pre-worded SMS message en-route about their arrival time to selected contacts directly from the vehicle.
The app offers other functions, such as controlling the car's interior temperature, security devices, the horn and headlights, remotely using a smartphone.
Automakers have been working to put in more technology into cars as increasingly connected consumers up their expectations, and as non-traditional players such as Google and Apple move into the automakers' space with big investments in autonomous vehicle projects.
"Smartphone users are in the midst of the mobile mind shift, where they begin to expect new levels of assistance and anticipation for daily changes," Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester who advises chief information officers, said in a June report.
Forrester's report found there was a strong, global interest in connected-car features, such as interactive voice responses, in-car internet connectivity, location-based statuses about their contacts and an app store for car apps.
In Asia, China, India and South Korea were the most interested in connected cars, the report found; China is one of the largest smartphone markets in the world currently, with India snapping at its heels.
To cater to the vast potential of the domestic market, Chinese automakers and tech companies are also looking into the possibilities that could be unlocked if a car could "think" in the way that smartphones or tablets can.
In July, e-commerce giant Alibaba and SAIC Motor, China's biggest car manufacturer, launched a sports utility vehicle (SUV) that featured Alibaba's YunOS operating system..
Two months earlier, Chinese conglomerate LeEco launched the self-driving, smart LeSEE supercar, which was designed to rival Tesla's Model X.
All this investment is aimed at capturing a lucrative market.