Whether it’s a speakerphone or head unit, Bluetooth has become smart enough to connect just by entering your vehicle. But what if your smartphone could go beyond that and initiate a number of different functions simultaneously to prepare you and your device for the drive? These are two relatively new ways in which that’s being done.
Motorola Smart Actions
- Available at: Motorola RAZR, RAZR V and Atrix HD
Motorola first introduced Smart Actions as a proprietary feature on the reinvented RAZR smartphone released last year. The premise behind it is to swiftly set up a sequence of options for specific purposes, meaning you could have multiple features simultaneously turn on or off.
The “Drive Smart” Smart Action that comes preloaded in the RAZR V and Atrix HD can use Bluetooth connectivity as a “trigger” to set the other subsequent tasks in motion. For example, if you get into your car and it connects to a Bluetooth-enabled speakerphone or head unit, Drive Smart can turn off Wi-Fi, load your favourite navigation app, set the ringer volume and even play a music playlist of your choice, all at the same time.
You can even have it auto-reply to incoming texts and create a white-list of contacts whose calls can get through to you. Other triggers, like plugging in an Aux-In cable, can also be added for separate sequences. Slide the trigger you want to the right to make it active. You can keep adding actions, but you’re limited to eight active ones at a time.
When this works, it does its job without you even realizing it because you won’t have to fiddle with your phone manually. The exception is that you will adjust the triggers and actions regularly, unless you tend to drive with a certain routine. However, you can have a particular Smart Action for commuting to work, and another for the weekend, as an example.
Sony Xperia SmartTags
- Available at: FutureShop.ca, BestBuy.ca, Sony Store (for SmartTag 4-Pack), Google Play (for free SmartTags app)
Sony’s SmartTags rely on NFC (Near Field Communication), which is a technology that’s received more press for the future of mobile payments than anything else, but can fit in nicely in the context of a car, too.
The tags themselves are small NFC-enabled circular discs that can be mounted anywhere in the vehicle with an included adhesive strip. The free SmartTags app lets you create a sequence of tasks – similar to how Motorola’s Smart Actions work – that would initiate once the tag was triggered by the phone.
This can include turning Bluetooth on, loading a navigation app, starting a playlist and even a text-to-speech function to voice incoming text messages. Once you’ve set up the tag, you only need to place the phone close to it to set it in motion (you’ll feel a vibration). It doesn’t matter what app is open or what the phone is doing, it will automatically go to the SmartTag app and start your sequence.
The level of choice in tasks isn’t quite as extensive as Motorola’s, since you can’t add a white-list, set reminders or even turn off cellular data, if you need to. Updates to the app should expand the list, though Sony hasn’t confirmed that yet.
But the advantage here is that the tags will work with any device running Android 2.3.3 or later with NFC built-in. It doesn’t have to be a Sony-branded model.