As a carmaker Volvo has always been known for its innovative safety features, and thanks to a new app, that now includes eliminating the risk of cuts on your hand after having to break one of your vehicle’s windows because you locked your keys inside.
Starting in 2017, Volvo will offer its customers a Bluetooth-dependent smartphone app that serves as a copy of their vehicle’s keys and fob. It can be used to open a car’s doors, trunk, activate or deactivate its security system, and even allow the vehicle to be started without the physical key being anywhere in the vicinity.
Not only will Volvo’s app serve as a handy backup on those days when you’ve forgotten your keys at home, or at work, it can also be used to access multiple vehicles at once, if you’re especially loyal to the brand and have an entire garage full of Volvos.
The app’s most useful feature, however, is its ability to share virtual keys with other users of the app. So if a friend or family member wants to borrow your car while you’re out of town, you can simply send them a virtual key and their smartphone with then be able to access and operate the vehicle.
That feature will especially be useful for rental car companies who may never have to replace a lost set of keys again. In fact, while Volvo won’t be offering the app to its customers until next year, this spring it will actually be trialling the service with a European car sharing service called Sunfleet based out of Gothenburg airport in Sweden.
The flip side of all of this is that if someone has access to your smartphone that isn’t properly secured, it also means they have complete access to your vehicle. And while GPS tracking will certainly serve as a useful deterrent against theft, it doesn’t protect any valuables you have sitting in your vehicle.
Despite what Volvo wants you to believe, it’s not the first carmaker to let you control your vehicle from an app. Through its OnStar service, GM has been offering similar functionality for a few years now, and BMW’s app will even let you start your car from afar, so you can pre-warm it on cold winter days before every stepping outside. But Volvo looks like its the first to thoroughly embrace the app as key idea, letting you actually drive your car no matter where your keys and fob were forgotten.