Volvo is taking the fight to the Germans with a new cloud-connected multimedia system complete with music streaming, online apps and Wikipedia integrated into the navigation.
No doubt the hope is that Sensus Connect will give Volvo a digital drivestyle edge over the premium competition, including Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
Volvo says the cloud-based services allow drivers to find and pay for parking from their car, discover new restaurants at their destination, stream their favourite music seamlessly. Volvo claims Sensus Connect also offers the first ever solution utilizing built-in connectivity supported by Pandora Internet Radio.
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That's great if you're in the US, Australia and New Zealand where Pandora is offered, but obviously less compelling elsewhere.
Wonders of Wiki
"Technology should make your life easier. That's why we listened carefully to our customers when creating Sensus Connect. It's not about offering a thousand apps; it's about giving you precisely what you need, before you even knew you needed it," says David Holecek, Connectivity Brand Manager at Volvo Cars.
That's good to hear as when it comes to in-car kit, suffocating drivers with features is no substitute for doing the important things really well.
Volvo says highlights for users will include tens of thousands of radio stations and the ability to not only set destinations through their mobile device and receive information about their surroundings through Wikipedia, but which also lets them find and pay for parking at their destination.
The Park&Pay application – another claimed world-first – is based on car2infrastructure communication and points the way to new possibilities when the car starts to "communicate" with its surroundings.
Glympse support also means Volvo drivers can share their location, handy for carsharing or visiting a friend's house for the first time. What's more the entire car works as a Wi-Fi hotspot for connected devices, using an integrated roof-top antenna to ensure the best possible signal reception.
It's not often the latter point is mentioned. We look forward to finding out whether it offers better connectivity and data speeds than a smartphone or 3/4G pebble.
On that subject, Sensus Connect's online features are enabled by both in integrated modem and the option of connection sharing with a smartphone. As yet there's no word on whether the integrated connectivity is 3G or 4G capable.
However, Volvo has confirmed that the navigation subsystem will offer free map updates for life.
Overall, it looks like a strong if perhaps not earth-shattering innovative all round package. As ever,