Special Report: Apps on wheels - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: Apps on wheels

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The race for apps superiority is a huge part of car sales today.

South Georgia car dealers say more customers everyday are demanding technology that provides what one manufacturer calls "infotainment."

"We are such a computer savvy population now. They are embracing all the touchscreens, the swipe gestures on the screens and the voice commands," said Prince of Albany Sales Associate Teri Underwood.

"Most people think they have a phone that's a couple of years old," said Sunbelt Ford Town Of Albany Sales Consultant Paul Koster. "They are replacing them with newer ones, because you just have more technology on them. It will be the same way inside of a vehicle."

Popular apps already available include emails read from your phone by voice command, and parking lot reminder.

Underwood said "If you've lost you car in the parking lot all you have to do on the GM Links is just go to your parking lot reminder.  It actually drops a pin exactly where your vehicle is parked."

Ford has a new app that reads today's USA Newspaper to you while you drive to work.

"You can ask to move around in the paper. But the apps are just increasing daily," said Koster. "It seems like you can YouTube a lot of things. [Even] find new apps for Ford products, access them via your phone."

Imagination is the only limit on the new apps coming in the near future.

But first responders say they are concerned using these apps, even voice operated, leads to distracted drivers and crashes.

"Any distraction in a vehicle is not a good idea to me," said Dougherty County Police Captain Thomas Jackson. "Your primary function in the vehicle should be operating the motor vehicle, not to talk on your cell phone, look at navigation machines, or answering e-mails."

But dealers say safety is the idea behind all the new apps.

"The main key for a lot of apps now is hands off the phone, eyes on the road," said Underwood.

"Information that is easy to access and use inside your vehicle makes your vehicle more pleasurable to drive, more fun to have, and safer, because you are not distracted while you are driving," said Koster.

Car manufacturers know keeping their customers safe is a key to business success, so apps development will have to keep driver distractions in mind. But is it possible to be entertaining and giving information to drivers on the road, without distraction?

That is the science now being developed for drivers down the road.

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