Audi: Vorsprung Durch IPhone.

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
audi vorsprung durch iphone

Explaining the many features of a car has always been a challenge. Manuals remain largely unread. When I was at Volkswagen, someone had the brilliant idea of making interactive CD-ROMs. I protested: “So that car stops with a cryptic trouble light, and now the poor customer is supposed to go home, find the CD, pop it into the computer and check what that light means?” My protests fell on deaf ears, and the CDs were made. Now, someone at Audi had a better idea …

Owners of an Audi A1 can download an application that runs on their iPhone. (Android or Windows? SOL.)

According to Automobilwoche [sub], once the app is on the iPhone, the customer must aim the phone’s camera at the part he or she does not understand, hit a button, and the iPhone will explain what’s going on. If the feature is one of the 65 the iPhone app recognizes, that is. In a later version, the iPhone will be familiar with 250 parts of the car, even if they are under the hood. So in a few years, when you see a lady by the side of the road, aiming her iPhone at the dipstick, you’ll know what to do. Currently, the app is sub-hood-agnostic.

The picture above shows you how this works. You aim the iPhone at the ominous stalk to the left of the steering column. A red quadrant signals that the stalk has been recognized. You push a button, and it says “Geschwindigskeitsregelanlage”, which is German for cruise control. Isn’t technology wonderful?

And what about the warning lights? Not yet. “It is conceivable that in the future, a customer can see with a single click on his smartphone what kind of fuel and oil the car needs,” says Das Autohaus. “The meaning of a blinking warning light will then also be identified quickly and easily via the smartphone.” Sounds like the blinkenlights will come in the 3.0 version.

Trouble lights aside, Audi thought of everything, even of the poor sods who have an iPhone, but not Audi A1. They get four pictures on the web. Aim your iPhone at the picture, and the phone will tell you what it is. I forgot: You need to subscribe to iTunes first.

Sorry, guys: Isn’t there a big screen in the dash? CAN-Bus connected? Why do I feel I am being ignored again?

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2 of 24 comments
  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on May 23, 2011

    I always read the manual in any car that I drive, especially if I'm borrowing it for an extended period. Generally the cars that I have available to borrow are fairly basic, but I get a charge out of the "Driver's Education lite" where the manual is telling you how you should drive, and to turn the windshield wipers on when it's raining. I have to say one instance where reading a manual helped save somebody at least $150. When I was working at Wal-Mart I had a lady come in with her manual and she was frantic because she couldn't get her car started (Mercedes or BMW - IIRC) and couldn't even turn the key. She was ready to have it towed to the dealer at 9:30 in the evening. Knowing that many of the lesser models have steering wheel locks I figured that her car would have something similar, and I asked to see her manual. I read the part of the manual where it explains how to start the car after the steering wheel locks and told her to turn the wheel as far to whichever side it was already turned and try turning the key again. She went out and did this and got the car going and I believe she even made a special trip back inside to thank me for saving her the time and possibly money (I wouldn't know if a tow-truck driver would have thought to have her try the wheel) of hiring a tow truck to bring the vehicle back to the dealer. I believe the closest MB or BMW dealer was about 30 miles away.

  • M 1 M 1 on May 24, 2011

    My personal rant about owner's manuals lies in the way that many manufacturers print one giant generic manual for an entire series of vehicles. Do I really need instructions about strapping a car seat into the back seat of my Viper?

  • FreedMike I don't know why this dash shocks anyone - the whole "touchscreen uber alles" thing is pure Tesla.
  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.