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Mercedes-Benz mbrace: Let Your Phone Do The Driving?

2011-05-07 10:12
Mercedes-Benz was late to the telematics game, but now that its mbrace system has been available for a while, it's looking like a trailblazer, compared to systems just hitting the market--Hyundai's Blue Link, Kia's UVO and Toyota's Entune, among them.

At the recent New York Auto Show, we talked with Mercedes and Hughes Telematics representatives, who took us for a refresher course through mbrace via an E-Class sedan on the show floor, as well as a smartphone paired and waiting nearby.

The system, if you're not familiar, lets your phone do many of the things your car's electronics are capable of doing. When you download the mbrace app, you'll be able to get directions, find your car in a crowded lot, even start or unlock your car by remote. It also enables GPS help: you can search a destination on the phone, and send it to your car's nav system with a swipe and a touch.

The mbrace app works with iPhones and BlackBerrys, and also incorporates emergency services and vehicle-status checks that rely on in-car hardware to stream information to and fro. Also bundled in: the ability to get real-time traffic and weather information, as well as concierge service supplied by real humans.

The mbrace service isn't free, except for the first six months you own the vehicle. But it is upgradeable, and even users of Benz' old TeleAid setup can migrate to the new, more capable service.

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