Understanding the automotive companion applications global landscape

Oleg Lebedyn

by Oleg Lebedyn

Vehicle companion apps R1hbapm

Automotive companion applications have transformed how we drive and interact with our vehicles. For consumers, these are indispensable tools for enhancing the driving experience and simplifying day-to-day life. 

They not only fuel brand loyalty but also serve as a crucial differentiator. As the automotive landscape becomes more competitive, manufacturers strive to stand out from their rivals by creating seamless, digital-enabled experiences that deepen customer relationships and exceed expectations. 

Get a comprehensive understanding of the role companion apps play in the future of connected mobility. This first-of-its-kind study delves into the diverse landscape of in-car applications, comparing app features across a broad spectrum of brands and regions. We analyzed each app’s strengths, weaknesses, and unique functionality to help you understand emerging trends and industry benchmarks. 

Unpack the full potential of automotive apps, including:

  • Trends in vehicle applications: Stay updated on the evolving features that enhance your driving experience.
  • The most rare vehicle app features: Explore the unexpected ways apps can make your car truly stand out.
  • Crafting the "ideal" vehicle application experience: Tailor your app interactions to align perfectly with your preferences and needs.
  • 8 trends that will shape the future of the app landscape: Get a glimpse into the future-shaping trends.

Overview of the automotive companion app landscape

Driven by increasing technology integration into vehicles, the global market for companion apps is projected to reach $29.3 billion by 2026. These apps offer a range of features to enhance the driving experience and user convenience. Users are particularly interested in features such as navigation assistance, remote control, and diagnostics. 

The rise of the software-defined vehicle and IoT technology has fueled the demand for these apps, as they allow users to seamlessly connect their cars to their smartphones and access a wide range of features and services. As the automotive industry further embraces digital transformation, the vehicle companion app landscape will witness further growth and innovation in the coming years.

Popular automotive applications

companion app

Every major OEM has its own companion applications. Our analysis focuses on 22 of the leading brands, including Tesla, Ford, BMW, Hyundai, and Volvo. We examined both the common shared features and what makes certain brands unique. For example, 94% of manufacturers provide remote start within their app. 

The EV segment, in particular, is interesting. Over two-thirds (68%) of EV owners report using their app at least every other drive to monitor charging processes and available range. However, the app features EV owners find most important are among the features that have the lowest level of customer satisfaction.

Trends in vehicle application features

There's a growing emphasis on connectivity and seamless integration. Modern apps increasingly incorporate advanced telematics, allowing users to remotely access and control various aspects of their vehicles, from remote start and climate control to real-time diagnostics. Moreover, integrating smart home systems and voice assistants is becoming commonplace, enabling users to interact with their vehicles through various devices and platforms.

Secondly, safety and driver assistance features are gaining prominence. Many apps offer functionalities beyond traditional navigation, providing real-time traffic updates, predictive routing, and even hazard alerts. Driver monitoring systems, which can detect signs of fatigue or distraction, are being integrated into apps to enhance road safety. 

Finally, personalized experiences within connected car apps are rapidly proliferating. Automakers are leveraging data analytics and artificial intelligence, including in-car digital assistants, to tailor app interfaces and services to individual users' preferences. 

Benefits and challenges of companion app development

Companion app development offers a range of benefits and presents certain challenges. On the positive side, these apps enhance user convenience and connectivity. They enable remote access to vehicle functions like lock/unlock, climate control, and charging status, providing users greater control and flexibility. Moreover, real-time diagnostics and maintenance alerts contribute to proactive vehicle care. 

However, automotive app development is not without its challenges. Achieving consistent user experience across various devices and operating systems adds complexity. Additionally, the rapid evolution of technology demands regular updates to keep up with user expectations and to address potential vulnerabilities. 

Balancing these benefits with challenges is crucial to creating successful and impactful automotive apps that resonate with modern car owners.

companion application

The future of automotive applications

Looking ahead, the future of vehicle companion applications holds significant transformations. The user experience is set to become more cohesive and unified, moving away from fragmented interactions. OEMs are expanding their app offerings to encompass a broader spectrum of features beyond driving alone. This shift emphasizes the brand, purchase, and ownership experience.

As the landscape evolves, expect to witness a richer array of features across all brands. OEMs will surprise and delight customers with new features while keeping pace with the rapidly advancing demand. This expansion could include seamless app integrations with smart homes, involvement with advertisements, e-commerce, retail, and social networks. 

Collaborations within the automotive ecosystem and broader consumer landscape will be pivotal in achieving OEMs' success. By integrating with other services, vehicle applications will facilitate a connected driving experience and extend that connectivity into various aspects of users' lives.

Uniting all of this will be seamless integration with Human-Machine Interface (HMI), allowing users to transition between mobile and in-vehicle entertainment or infotainment systems seamlessly. As the lines blur between mobile and in-car interactions, the future of automotive companion applications is poised to redefine how individuals engage with their cars and the world around them.

Move fast into the future with Star Automotive & Mobility

At Star, we help brands from across the mobility industry seize the full potential of companion apps to fuel customer loyalty, drive revenue growth, and cement market leadership.

Here are a few ways we can help your brand: 

  • Automotive app design and development: Deliver industry-leading mobile experiences through end-to-end white-label, multi-brand solution development from ideation and prototyping to post-market support.
  • Seamless multi-touch point UX: Create an experience vision for a holistic ecosystem of digital touchpoints and a tactical roadmap for immediate action.
  • Intelligent assistants and AI: Develop personable AI that fosters an emotional connection with users and boosts safety, comfort, and convenience.
  • Competitor analysis and market benchmarking: Conduct an analysis of the competitive landscape in comparison to industry benchmarks. This evaluation will help assess potential growth opportunities for your business.
  • Cloud platform development: Build integrated mobility and vehicle platforms and ecosystems fine-tuned for immersive, user-centric experiences, new revenue-driving services, and streamlined processes.

Ready to learn more? Get in touch with our Automotive & Mobility Practice

Vehicle companion apps R5dkbapm
Oleg Lebedyn
Head of Solutions Architecture at Star

Oleg has been with Star and in the software consultancy business for more than 12 years and holds a degree in applied cryptology. Having worked with OEMs, Tier 1s and automotive startups for the past five years, Oleg is currently leading Star's solution architecture team. He helps clients to shape their vision and deliver the software that fits their business needs.

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