LOS ANGELES -- Jaguar Land Rover steps deeper into the app age with the announcement of JustDrive, an all-in-one smartphone app that builds on the automaker's new InControl infotainment platform and connects 2015 model year vehicles of both brands to the web. We went hands-on with the new software behind the wheel of a 2015at the 2014 LA Auto Show.
The Jaguar Land Rover JustDrive app lives on the driver's smartphone and transmits data to the host vehicle via USB, but also requires a Bluetooth connection to relay the sound for calls and audio sources through the vehicle's speakers. When the app establishes contact with the vehicle, it briefly displays a welcome screen that cycles through a few bits of relevant information (such as current weather conditions, commute information, and news) before the driver hits the road. The software then drops into the JustDrive dashboard.
The interface is split down the middle and displays navigation and map data on the right half of the screen and puts large text shortcuts to the three major functions of JustDrive on the left. Dedicated buttons can be found along the bottom for settings and voice input. Alternatively, the interface can be split between the current audio source information and the map.
Users interact with the software by touching the screen, but -- likeand -- voice command is deeply integrated into JustDrive and makes more sense when behind the wheel.
With the touch of a button, the driver can say "Text Josh" followed by "I'm on my way" to send a text message to a contact stored on their smartphone. They could also say "Text Josh my location" to send a link to a map of the vehicle's current location. Incoming text messages are read aloud via text-to-speech software.
Other voice controls include accessing audio sources -- for example "Listen to Coldplay" to start playing MP3s in the phone's storage. The driver could say "Navigate to the Sunset Strip" to begin turn-by-turn directions and, thanks to InControl's integration of apps such as Twitter and Yelp, the driver can see a rating for that destination before hitting the road.
I really like JustDrive's simplified in-car interface, which splits the driver's activities into the headings Go, Talk, and Play, displaying a lot of relevant information about where you're heading and what you're listening to without overwhelming. Additionally, users will also retain access to a variety of third-party apps that are supported and enabled via the underlying Jaguar Land Rover InControl software.
JustDrive and InControl will be available on all 2015 model year Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles starting in early 2015. The apps will be a free download for iOS and Android users. Owners of current 2015 MY vehicles may require a software update at their local dealership's service department.
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