The new Mercedes-Benz class mbraces smart phones. But is there a connection?
You can't be in control of a car if you're using a mobile, right? Oh yes you can, say Mercedes
Mercedes wants you to start using your mobiles more often when you're in the car. They say mobile technology will put you more in control. Have they gone nuts?
Mbrace is Mercedes-Benz’s new in-car connection system. Well, they OEM’ed it. But, if it works properly, should link cars to smart phones and their apps. But does it?
This year Mercedes-Benz launches an e-class range of cars that, for the first time, include the new mbrace telematics service. We got a sneak preview. Our verdict? It’s a lot better than Tele Aid - Mercedes previous effort – but there’s still room for improvement.
The initial signs were not good. Like TeleAid it uses a 3G telematics control unit (TCU) from Continental AG. But it’s integrated the hardware and software more successfully.
This is the first in car gadget that offers telematics-enabled applications. Hughes Telematics (the OEM behind mbrace) has integrated features like remote door locking and vehicle finding into the driver’s mobile devices. So mbrace system makes telematics more usable and relevant.
The remote door lock gives the E-Class the ‘wow factor’ among people who are impressed by gadgets. The mbrace smart-phone application works great when downloaded onto a Blackberry and an iPhone. Use either device to lock and unlock the doors by pressing an icon on the device. You can control the car with your phone. But can you start it or steer it? Not yet.
The performance of the vehicle finder didn’t always work. A one in four ratio is not good. So if you’ve forgotten where you parked your car in the giant airport car park, this gadget won’t necessarily help you out. Why it’s temperamental I don’t know. Perhaps it was the poor GPS signal you get at Gatwick.
The rest of the mbrace services worked well, including destination Search & Send using Google Maps But there is no remote diagnostics feature in mbrace. And it doesn’t include any bundled Location-Based Services (LBS) for use with the onboard navigation system.