From Candy Crush Saga to Instagram, you have a serious love of all things app. Now, if you get your hands on a 2014 Kia Sorento, Forte, Optima, Soul or Cadenza, your app adoration will reach a whole new level.
Kia debuted Microsoft-powered UVO, short for Your Voice, in 2010. The voice-activated media controller system operates the ride's infotainment options, such as the HD radio, CD player and built-in digital jukebox. It also can interface with your Bluetooth-enabled phone.
The next-generation version of the system -- dubbed eServices -- goes above and beyond voice recognition. It boasts an 8-inch touchscreen (a nice upgrade from the 4.3-in unit of 2010), and gets a high-tech boost by being app-based, which means you can enjoy a ton of features via a free, downloadable app on your iPhone. (Android users will have to wait until later this year.)
Topping the list of standout features is its seamless integration with Google.
Once you have the app installed on your iPhone, you can fire up Google Maps and Google Places to search and scour out points of interest. You have your choice of going to Kia's website or through the app to search addresses, locations or businesses. Then, sync up those places with your car before slipping into the driver's seat. You can grab navigation help, as well.
You also can thank Google Maps for the Parking Minder feature. If your little ones have distracted you from remembering whether you parked in lot A or lot B, Parking Minder shoots the location of your Kia straight to your smartphone. For those who are exceptionally challenged when trying to recall where they parked, you have the option of snapping photos of your surrounding area for reference, scribbling a reminder note and setting an alarm on your phone if the car is parked at a meter. To guide you back to your car, the app will display your location and the vehicle's whereabouts on a map.
In an emergency, the 911 Connect may be a lifesaver. If your airbag deploys, the system's crash notification function will alert emergency services of your location. Unless you cancel within a mere 10 seconds, the system will call 911, connecting you with a dispatcher.
In a huge step toward simplicity, you have Car Care Web -- a virtual hub where you can check vehicle diagnostics, maintenance schedules and driving behavior, or schedule appointments with a nearby dealer via a computer or mobile device.
Perhaps the best part of this is its price tag: $0. There are no contracts or fees to hassle with, which leaves you with a little more cash in your wallet. In this digital age, where there seems to be a pricey new gadget on the market every month, UVO eServices is a breath of fresh, techy air.