Volkswagen's Media Control app puts children in control of the car's infotainment system with the hopes that turning back-seat drivers into back-seat DJs will help parents cope with restless children on longer drives.
For many parents undertaking a family road trip, having to put up with their children's choice of music can be as frustrating as the constant complaints about how long they've been in the car and inquiries on the progress made concerning arrival time -- "are we there yet?".
A new Volkswagen app aims to consign shouts of the latter to the past, however, unless parents lay down some serious ground rules before each journey, it could end up seriously ratcheting up tension caused by differing tastes when it comes to the music of Taylor Swift, Drake or Ed Sheeran.
The Media Control app essentially turns a smartphone into an in-car entertainment system remote control. It lets users retune the radio, stream songs straight from their handset to the car stereo, adjust the volume, fade and balance and view current navigation information, such as the car's position in relation to the final destination, straight on the screen.
The new app is a free download for either Apple or Android handsets and it will work automatically with any current generation VW with the Discover Navigation or Discover Navigation Pro infotainment systems, and wireless hot spot fitted.
As such, Volkswagen is taking a very different approach to that of BMW when it comes to keeping back-seat passengers engaged and entertained. When BMW launched the 2-Series Gran Tourer, its first ever MPV, it did so alongside a new infotainment system that allowed children to stream content to tablets and phones via the car's internal internet connection. However, all content that arrives on those back-seat screens has been pre-screened by the front passengers with settings to block or restrict content or amount of time that kids have access.
This doesn't mean that VW's idea isn't a novel or welcome approach to keeping the kids quiet. But for many road-weary parents, the Media Control app's best feature could be that they can disable it by shutting off the car's WLAN system.