With a large chunk of the population carrying some form of a smartphone, automakers are keen to take advantage of it. The past year has seen an number of smartphone applications from OEMs that provide such features as trip computer information, remote locking and starting, and locating your vehicle. The latest automaker to jump into this is Volvo with their On Call application. I had the chance to play around with this system on a 2015.5 Volvo XC60 that I was reviewing at the time.
Setting up the On Call application with the XC60 proved to be an easy experience for me. Before getting the vehicle, I was sent a pin code that would pair the On Call application with XC60. Once the vehicle arrived, I followed the instructions and was able to pair my phone with the car. Now for consumers, getting On Call setup with their vehicle will be much easier as the dealer will have mostly everything setup before delivery.
As for the application itself, its a very simple looking one. There are four different sections of the application which provide information about the vehicle itself: warnings on whether the vehicle has a problem, remote start and locking, and a map showing off an approximate location of the vehicle. Every time the On Call app is opened, it takes about half a minute for the application and car to connect and provide fresh data. This delay might anger some people who want immediate access, but this is more of a problem with the infrastructure to connect the phone to vehicle, not the phone or vehicle itself.
This delay is also apparent when you use the remote start or locking. In my testing, I found that it took around 30 seconds for the vehicle to be locked or start when I used the app. This makes sense if you’re coming out of a mall or someplace and your car is far away to use the application. If you happen to be nearby the vehicle, it makes more sense to use the key fob.
The On Call app is free for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone devices. As for using On Call with your Volvo, the first six months are free. After that, a 12 month subscription costs around $200.00.
So does it make sense to go for the On Call application with your Volvo? At the moment I have to say no. It's not to say the technology or the benefit is there. I think its more of a solution to a problem that hasn’t been found at the moment. It also adds more complexity to something that is as simple as operating a key fob. The On Call app is a great party trick you can show off, but I don’t know if it is much more than that.
Disclaimer: Volvo Provided the XC60 and Access to the On Call Application