VW and Google join forces to beta launch SmileDrive app

smiledrive app

smiledrive app

Volkswagen and Google announced today the beta launch of the SmileDrive app, which they are claiming will be the first app to make driving a whole lot more fun.  The app is only available to download via the Google Play store.  (Take that iPhone and iOS users!)

It is estimated that 144 million Americans now spend an average of 52 minutes in a car and 76 percent of that time is by themselves.  Ohh, how sad, so Google and VW wanted to spice things up a little bit.

SmileDrive connects to a user’s car—any kind of car via Bluetooth, and runs in the background to track data for both everyday commutes and road trips.  Better make sure you are not going over your data plan though!

After a drive is complete, the app uses different factors such as like location, distance, time and weather to deliver a Smile Score.  The app rewards users them with “stickers,” something akin to virtual bumper stickers, for accomplishments earned while out and about.  Drivers cannot use the with the app, nor receive any notifications, while the car is on the road.

On a long road trips, SmileDrive offers the ability to create a Smilecast, which is a dynamic travelogue filled with the captured photos, maps of the trip, status updates, as well as other memories that are collected to a specific URL. Through the URL, friends and family can view the Smilecast after the trip has ended to see how awesome (or lame) your road trip was.

“We wanted to provide a way for consumers to add a little more flare to their road trips and a way to share the good times in their VW’s with their friends.” said Kevin Mayer, Vice President of Marketing at Volkswagen of America.

SmileDrive is part of Google’s ongoing Art, Copy & Code project, which focuses on rethinking brand experiences. “Cars can be conduits to amazing life experiences, as much as they get us from point A to B. SmileDrive aims to capture these moments, making drives a more social and sharable experience.” said Aman Govil, Art, Copy & Code Project Lead at Google.

The SmileDrive app was built in partnership with Deutsch LA, Volkswagen of America’s creative and digital agency, and Grow Interactive, Google’s lead creative and technology partner on brand initiatives for Art, Copy & Code.

SmileDrive App Features also includes;

  • Seamless Sharing – The app is linked to the user’s Google+ account and friends can be invited to follow these trips online, commenting on photos and posts along the way. Everything recorded is shareable, should the user choose.
  • Smilecast – Friends can either be invited to join along in the car via Google+, or watch the journey on the web. At the end of the trip, the driver receives a brief video compiling the highlights of their trip, which can then be shared with friends and family.
  • Stickers – Users can earn fun, virtual bumper stickers when they unlock special achievements, such as the “Night Owl” sticker for late night drives. These can be shared on any social network.
  • Punches – Users can play a re-imagined version of the classic “PunchDub” game. When two Volkswagen SmileDrive users encounter each other en route, the app will register a virtual “punch”.
  • Smile Score – At the end of each drive, SmileDrive calculates the number of points earned while on the road. Points are a function of the number of punches, stickers earned, traffic conditions, weather, and more.
  • Find My Car – By logging the vehicle’s last position, SmileDrive can help users find their car via Google Maps, and receive corresponding walking directions when available.
  • Bluetooth  – Through pairing the app with the car, drives are automatically recorded when the user starts and stops the vehicle. If the car doesn’t have Bluetooth technology, the app can be manually started and stopped before driving begins.


Adam Yamada-Hanff
Adam has always loved cars and anything with wheels. When he is not writing about interesting stories you might find him jamming on his saxophone, watching movies, creating art, or playing with his two dogs.