Techies 2016: App - Alphabet AlphaGuide
23 August 2016
Launched at the beginning of this year, Alphabet says its new AlphaGuide app is designed to move the focus of fleet apps "from being a service support for drivers to being a true tool for mobility users".
While some elements are specific to Alphabet customers, others, including business mileage tracking, live traffic, and Uber integration and journey planning, as well as the ability to search through the mapping function for charging points and tyre-fitting centres, are offered to any user that downloads the app, which is available free of charge for Apple, Android and Windows phones. The mileage-tracking element can be exported to log business journeys for tax and expenses purposes.
The integration into a phone calendar drew particular praise from the judging panel, with the app accessing the user's calendar to show meeting location, journey time and directions, and what time the user needs to leave their current location in order to arrive on time.
This function also cleverly links with Uber to give users the information needed to consider that form of transport as an option, listing costs and enabling the user to book a car through the fast-growing taxi alternative.
Alphabet states that the 32 million smartphones shipped in the UK alone last year means that we have moved past any barriers to communicating with employees on the move. Now, "the challenge is to supply drivers with relevant information and functions that help in their roles".
The leasing company's own customers predictably benefit from extra features such as mobile access to all their contract and servicing information about the vehicle, claims management advice in the event of an accident, and a one-tap link to Alphabet's 24-hour driver helpline.
Alphabet has confirmed more features will be added later this year, including integration with Apple and Android smartwatches.
Highly commended - The AA
The AA's app is one that will hopefully never show how useful it is, but in those times of stress when something has gone wrong with a car, it could prove to be of massive benefit.
AA users can request assistance without even having to make a phone call, and the app's GPS locater notifies a patrol of the vehicle's location, rather than relying on a description from someone that has broken down in an area they don't know.
The recovery giant claims that patrols locate a stricken vehicle five minutes faster on average through the app than when members have phoned for assistance. At present, 16% of breakdown assistance requests come through the app, rather than phone, and the system also gives an estimated arrival time for the patrol, allowing business users to continue working if their car is stranded at the office, and only return to it when they can see help is imminent.
Highly Commended - Volvo On Call
This development from Swedish brand Volvo harnesses much of the functionality of the Alphabet and AA apps, focusing on emergency and tracking, as well as the ability to control certain vehicle functions from a smartphone, smartwatch or iPad.
These include checking fuel level and maintenance warnings, and locking and unlocking the doors and checking if windows are closed, while the temperature can be pre-set on cars fitted with a suitable auxiliary heater. For 2016 model-year vehicles, destinations can be sent to Volvo's satnav system direct from Outlook calendar entries, and drivers are also able to log journeys and export to Excel for expenses and tax purposes.
On Call also allows users to summon assistance, with GPS location, in the event of a flat tyre, breakdown or accident