Connected cars are all rage these days. While almost all car makers offer some level of connectivity, packaging relevant features with a fast, user-friendly UI [user interface] remains, at best,a work in progress. This is not surprising considering the technology is relatively new.
However, Kia is an exception in that it has managed to package extremely useful features in a fast, easy-to-use package that is UVO Connect.
What then is a Connected Car and why is Kia’s UVO Connect a very good implementation of the concept?
A connected car is a car that can communicate bidirectionally with other systems outside of the car (LAN). This allows the car to share internet access, and hence data, with other devices both inside and outside the vehicle. That is the technical definition.
Put simply, a connected car lets its owner, and a few other designated people, communicate wirelessly, usually using a mobile app, with the car to operate certain functions. For instance, if you own a Kia Seltos, you can, using the UVO Connect app, start the car and get the heater on, so that, by the time you get into the car, its warm and cozy. Neat, isn’t it!
But that’s just one of its many useful features. Broadly, features of the UVO Connect offer convenience, safety and proactive vehicle management.
Kia’s UVO Connect has three components that come together to deliver a seamless ‘connected experience’: First is the UVO Connect app,which can download and install on your phone. Next, there is that sharp, touch-enabled 10.25-inch infotainment display that sits in the middle of the dashboard. And finally, there are three very important buttons right under the rear-view mirror inside the car.
Let’s start with some very useful things you can do using UVO Connect app.
UVO Connect Top Features
Track Car Usage: This is particularly useful in the Indian context, where the same car is often driven by several people, including the chauffer. Click on My Trips on the left bottom of the app home screen, pick a date, and you can see when and how much was the car driven, whether it was driven hard, whether there was sudden braking, what route the car was taken on. In a nutshell, you can track driving behaviour using the app.
Track Car’s Health: Next to the My Trip button, you’ll find the VHR tab. VHR stands for Vehicle Health Report and tracks the health of your Kia’s powertrain, air bags, brake system—essentially all the important bits. It’s a feature whose value will only go up with the passage of time.Consider this an early warning system that will help you avoid costly break downs.
Remote Access and Start: The third button lets you start the car remotely and turn on heating or cooling, as the case may be. It does so by letting you set the temperature inside the car, from the chilly 16-degrees to a cozy 26-degrees. It also lets you open and lock the car remotely so you can have people drop stuff into your car or vice versa without you being there in person. And before we forget, it lets you locate your car remotely too!
Contact Information: This is another very important safety feature that you can use via the My Profile tab. You define who is to be contacted in case of emergency and a call and SMS is shot out to them in case something goes wrong.
Clean Air: Rising pollution levels combined with increasing travel times make this a very handy feature. The Smart Pure Air, a built-in air purifier, monitors and purifies the air in the car.
There are a host of other features such as maintenance alerts that are equally handy.
So, the UVO Connect app is great but what if more than one person uses the same Kia car? Well, they too can install and use the app as long as they have the username and password. And should you add more Kia cars to your garage, all you have to do is to ‘Add’ that car to your UVO Connect app.
Remember, a connected car enables bidirectional communication, which means you can get the car to communicate with the outside world as well. The UVO Connect app is complemented by the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system [the screen slightly smaller in lower-end versions]. It’s sharp, easy to read in bright light, and fast. But most importantly, it is one of the more intuitive systems on the market—you don’t have to wrestle with the manual for weeks to master it.
Top Features of the Infotainment System
Ask for Directions: You can use the Send to Car feature to ask your friends to suggest a place, and once you receive the suggestion, you can click on it to find the route [navigation].
Share your Location: A very handy feature if you travel late nights—just share your location with your family and it allows them to track the movement of the car right up to the time that you get home.
Apple CarPlay / Andriod Auto Integration: UVO Connect has both and that means a slew of features.
Apart from these, you can control media, mirror your phone, check vehicle health and talk over your phone handsfree, etc. The list is too long and so we will let you discover some goodies.
And that takes us to the rear-view mirror that is inside the car and the three buttons on its underside.
The Magic Buttons
Concierge: Yes, with Kia you get a concierge. Press the right-most button and you’ll automatically be connected to a concierge. Ask him for directions or share your car issue, and he will help you out. The last we heard of concierge in auto context, it was along with some brand called Rolls Royce!
Road Side Support [RSS]: That’s the middle button.If something goes wrong with your car, all you need to is to press this button and help would be at hand.
SoS: The left-most button [red in colour] is for emergencies. Press it and whoever is in your emergency contact list will get a call and an SMS. Additionally, a dedicated emergency team at Kia will be notified immediately. This extends the idea of safety to beyond just the car’s build and is an important safety feature.
So, that is a snapshot of the UVO Connect. It is a highly useful set of ‘connected’ features put together in a user-friendly package. All this requires connectivity and therefore aneSIM, for which Kia has tied up with Vodafone. This means you get all the functionalities of UVO Connect free for the first three years. Didn’t someone say that the best things in life are free!