When was the last time you locked your keys in your car? Personally, I've done this half a dozen times. And getting a locksmith out to your car is time-consuming and frustrating. Now imagine a world where you can remotely lock/unlock your car or more, all from your phone or even through a web portal. That is not a future scenario -- that's today.
The market for connected cars is expected to be the next big thing. By 2021 it's expected that annual sales of connected car technologies will reach €122.6 billion (~$135 billion), according to PwC. Both traditional automotive companies and new startups from Silicon Valley are racing to capitalize on this opportunity.
But there's a lot at stake to get it right. In this fast-paced race toward the future of cars, it is important to keep in mind the reliability of the digital experience or you'll tarnish your brand and reputation in the process. In a prior post about the connected car, Perfecto's Carlo Cadet talked about the subpar performance of automotive apps. Too many have measly 2-3 star ratings and scathing reviews like this one:
"The app has a few minor hands free features, but they are all slow and the native abilities of my iPhone work better. My suggestion is, if you're planning on using this app, don't bother. Just connect your phone via Bluetooth and use it as you would normally. This app doesn't do a dang thing that it promises." -JC_Alvarez
I’m one of those early adopter types, and willing to work around some warts to be the new kid with a great toy, so I didn’t want to believe those ratings or reviews. I was excited to find out about remote access to a car and the possibility of dumping my key fob and using my phone instead. Sadly, my car is not connected so I didn't have the option to play. So I did the next best thing. I borrowed a co-worker's car, paid for her app access and set up a test -- the results of which you can see in the video below. For more details about the test code we used in the test, read this Perfecto community post.
But unfortunately, my bubble burst. Mobile users in today’s world, myself included, expect speed and consistency in an app. Current connected car apps have unacceptably slow response times, like the app tested in the video below that took 23 seconds to confirm that the car alarm was sounding once I activated it from my phone. Now I understand those subpar ratings and reviews.
Obviously, if automotive apps are slow, users will go back to using their key FOB or cell phone to perform the same capabilities the app is running. To get these apps right, the developers must be aware of how the whole system behaves, regardless of its environment. Mobile testing under real network conditions can help diagnose where the slow response times stem from, which can vary from the app itself to the app's connection to the cloud or to the car itself. Once the source of the delay is understood, it can be fixed.
Check out how we tested a Chevy Suburban on both iOS and Android in the video below: