- iPhone integration now an option for Mercedes range
- Controlled via the cars’ dashboard display screen
- Enables access to Facebook, Twitter and internet radio
Ever feel the need to social network while you’re driving? Do you wish you could send a tweet while navigating the M25 or check yourself in on Facebook from the North Circular?
Mercedes-Benz has launched a system which allows iPhone owners to access and control many of their phone’s key features from the driver’s seat while on the move.
Called ‘Drive Kit Plus’, the system is available as an optional accessory and links content and apps from the driver’s iPhone with the car’s on-board display screen – in the case of the A-Class and B-Class that’s the slimline screen mounted on the dashboard – and is controlled via the rotary dial on the centre armrest.
The system has been co-developed with Apple and is available for the iPhone only. It’s currently compatible with the iPhone 4 and 4S, although from summer onwards the system will also be available with the iPhone 5 and Siri, Apple’s voice recognition technology.
Already on the road in the A-Class, the option is also in the process of being rolled out across the vast majority of other models in the Mercedes range.
To access the system, you first need to purchase the Drive Kit Plus package (and have it fitted) from a Mercedes dealer. You then download Mercedes’ ‘Digital DriveStyle’ app, available free from iTunes, and connect your iPhone via a cable in the glovebox.
The car’s main display screen can then be cycled between three main menus under the headings Social, Media and Places.
Social, as the name suggests, is focussed around social media content from Facebook and Twitter. You can check the main news feed on Facebook and have the system read recent messages from friends out loud. It’s also possible to post comments from a list of pre-written responses.
In a similar vein, the most recent tweets from people you follow on Twitter can be viewed or read aloud by the system, shared and re-tweeted. When the car’s stationary, you can also compose new tweets or view video and images.
Facebook's event calendar is integrated with the system, displaying invitations from friends and upcoming events. It’s possible to accept invitations while driving and even use the navigation system to direct you to straight to the event in question.
The Media category allows access to all the artists, albums and playlists from the phone’s music library and, if you want, you can tell your friends what song you’re listening to on Facebook and Twitter via the systems ‘Share’ function. Thousands of internet stations from around the world can be listened to via the system too.
The third category, Places, relates to navigation with internet-based 2D and 3D maps and full postcode compatibility. A point of interest search function is also included, enabling the user to search for a restaurant, for example, and then check out Google Street View for a 360-degree picture of where they’re heading to before setting off.
Inevitably, it’s also possible to post which road you’re currently on or where you’re driving to on Facebook and check yourself in at destinations.
The Drive Kit Plus package is priced between £700 and £750 from Mercedes-Benz dealers with no annual subscription fee.