The car security company Directed Electronics has released a new iPhone app that lets users lock and unlock their car doors, pop the trunk, set off the alarm or simply start the vehicle.
Known as the Viper SmartStart, the app is basically a virtual keychain that performs all the functions of your typical smart key. The “Smart Start” button could be particularly useful if you want to warm or cool your car before you get into it.
The app uses the iPhone’s data connection for each command, so you can only control your vehicle when you have an Edge or 3G signal. For me, this brings to mind a horror movie scenario where you’re camping and trying to escape the killer only to find you can’t get a 3G signal to unlock the car’s doors or start the car — but what are the odds that will happen, right?
The app also works on non-cellular data devices, like the iPod Touch, but you have to be near Wi-Fi to use it.
Now for the catch: While the app is free, you need to have Viper’s SmartStart system installed in your car. That will cost you a cool $499 for installation (just $299 if you already have the Viper alarm system), plus $29.99 a year for an active subscription to Viper’s SmartStart service. Customers who get a new installation will get the first year of service for free.