Apps -- the downloadable programs that are changing the way we use smartphones, tablets, and other electronics -- are about to invade our cars. Audi, BMW, Nissan Motor, and Ford Motor, among others, are working on technologies that let drivers and passengers use apps to stream music and video, get directions, and even unlock car doors from remote locations, even with a smartphone.

This Businessweek.com slide show highlights 15 apps and technologies that are making their way to an auto showroom near you.
Getty Images
Apps -- the downloadable programs that are changing the way we use smartphones, tablets, and other electronics -- are about to invade our cars. Audi, BMW, Nissan Motor, and Ford Motor, among others, are working on technologies that let drivers and passengers use apps to stream music and video, get directions, and even unlock car doors from remote locations, even with a smartphone.

This Businessweek.com slide show highlights 15 apps and technologies that are making their way to an auto showroom near you.
Getty Images

Apps on Wheels

Auto-Ready Apps
Auto-Ready Apps
Apps -- the downloadable programs that are changing the way we use smartphones, tablets, and other electronics -- are about to invade our cars. Audi, BMW, Nissan Motor, and Ford Motor, among others, are working on technologies that let drivers and passengers use apps to stream music and video, get directions, and even unlock car doors from remote locations, even with a smartphone.

This Businessweek.com slide show highlights 15 apps and technologies that are making their way to an auto showroom near you.
Getty Images
LTE-Connected Car
LTE-Connected Car
Maker: Alcatel-Lucent-led group of companies known as ng Connect Program

Availability: Not available

Cost: Not available

While not yet ready for prime time, this prototype car from ng Connect Program has fast wireless connectivity that lets passengers order high-definition video on demand and view it on the rear of head rests. Driver and passengers can also use the connection to browse the Web -- say, to find a nearby restaurant. A text-to-speech converter even reads text messages sent over mobile networks.
ng Connect Program
Mappy Ulti 950
Mappy Ulti 950
Maker: Mobile Devices

Availability: France

Cost: About $277 for the device, plus a $17 monthly service fee

This gadget, from France's Mobile Devices, uses wireless networks to provide up-to-the-minute navigation services, including MyLive Traffic -- which alerts drivers to nearby collisions -- and another tool that can alert motorists to speed traps.
iDA-X305S
iDA-X305S
Maker: Alpine Electronics of America

Availability: Since March 2010

Cost: $400 (for the hardware)

Made by Alpine Electronics, this receiver takes Pandora Internet radio stations loaded on the driver's Apple iPhone and pumps them through a car's audio system.
Mobile Devices
Pandora for Ford
Pandora for Ford
Maker: Pandora Media

Availability: December, on Android Market and BlackBerry App World

Cost: Free

Available on Android Market and BlackBerry App World for Research In Motion BlackBerrys and cell phones that sport the Android operating system, this app from Pandora Media lets drivers use voice commands and steering wheel controls to control Pandora stations and songs streaming via smartphones.
Pandora Media
OpenBreak for Ford
OpenBreak for Ford
Maker: Orangatame Software

Availability: December, on BlackBerry App World

Cost: Free

Drivers of 2011 Ford Fiestas will be the first Ford customers able to post updates and listen to other people's posts on Twitter via voice commands relayed to the BlackBerry, thanks to Orangatame Software. As a particular tweet is read, the car's display will show the poster's name and time elapsed since the tweet was written. Steering wheel controls will skip to the next tweet or go back to the previous item.
Orangatame Software
Nissan Leaf App
Nissan Leaf App
Maker: Nissan

Availability: Late November, on the Apple App Store

Cost: Free

The new Nissan Leaf will let an iPhone owner remotely check how much charge the electric vehicle has received and receive text notifications via the smartphone if a charger should malfunction.
Nissan
OnStar MyLink
OnStar MyLink
Maker: OnStar

Availability: Available on Apple's App Store and Android Market

Cost: Free; designed to work with OnStar's paid service

Owners of certain 2011 General Motors Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC cars can use their iPhone or Android device to unlock doors, start the vehicle remotely, and contact OnStar roadside assistance by phone.
OnStar
BMW Remote
BMW Remote
Maker: BMW

Availability: Apple's App Store in Germany

Cost: Free

This mobile app lets you remotely unlock your car doors, display the car's location on a map, and even perform Google searches for addresses on a mobile device. Designed for Apple's iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, the app works with certain new BMW models.
BMW
RSEi-500
RSEi-500
Maker: Volvo and partners Azentek and Gracenote

Availability: Not available

Cost: Not available

This prototype Internet-connected, rear-seat entertainment system, with Wi-Fi connectivity and a 500-gigabyte hard drive, lets customers surf the Internet and download apps to personalize their Volvos. Made by Volvo, Azentek, and Gracenote, it also allows users to connect their vehicles to their home computers to transfer video, audio, and other data to the cars' onboard computers.
Volvo/Azentek/Gracenote
Audi's Mobile Media Interface Plus
Audi's Mobile Media Interface Plus
Maker: Audi and Google

Availability: 2011

Cost: Free

Working in new Audi A8 models, this navigation system offers 3G wireless connectivity so the car can act as a hot spot for Wi-Fi devices. The A8 will be able to retrieve up-to-date information from the Internet and perform Google searches for keywords such as "restaurant." The results will be displayed on the onboard map or used as destinations for route calculation.
Audi/Google
smart drive US
smart drive US
Maker: Mercedes-Benz R&D North America

Availability: Apple's App Store

Cost: $9.99

When used with the smart drive kit for the iPhone, the iPhone app lets owners of smart fortwo cars use hands-free calling, roadside assistance, and car-finder features. Users can also track their location on a map, search for nearby businesses, and stream online radio stations.
Hughes Telematics
Mercedes-Benz mbrace
Mercedes-Benz mbrace
Maker: Hughes Telematics

Availability: Apple's App Store

Cost: The app is free; customers must pay for related services.

With this app from Hughes Telematics, you can use your Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to unlock car doors, find your car on a map, search for a nearby dealership, or contact a concierge for personal assistance.
Mercedes-Benz R&D North America
Aha Radio
Aha Radio
Maker: Harman Aha Radio

Availability: Apple's App Store

Cost: Free

The iPhone app lets users listen to their Facebook friends' status updates, the latest celebrity tweets, comedy radio shows, favorite podcasts, and traffic stations. It also can list nearby restaurants on the route you've selected. The app will be integrated with some forthcoming Harman devices.
Harman Aha Radio
MotionX-GPS Drive
MotionX-GPS Drive
Maker: Fullpower Technologies

Availability: Apple's App Store

Cost: 99 cents, plus additional service charges for voice turn-by-turn navigation

This navigation app from Fullpower Technologies helps you drive -- and walk -- to your destination. It also lets you make Internet searches and check Wikipedia on the go. It's expected to be integrated into car systems within the next year.
Fullpower Technologies
TomTom Mazda5 media and navigation system
TomTom Mazda5 media and navigation system
Maker: TomTom, with partner Sanyo Electric

Availability: Will become available as an option in the new Mazda5 in Europe

Cost: Not applicable

This in-dash multimedia and navigation system will offer TomTom's LIVE services, which report traffic jams and live weather updates and offer local search.
TomTom/Sanyo Electronics