Car Games: Volkswagen replaces Punch Buggy with SmileDrive
If you would prefer NOT to be punched in the arm by passengers in the car whenever they spy a Beetle on the road, then you might prefer the modern, high-tech version of the game -- called SmileDrive -- playable on your smart phone. (Sorry Apple fans, the game is not yet available for iPhone users.)
Whether you call it “Slug Bug,” “Punch Buggy,” or “Slug Dub,” the free app from Volkswagen and powered by Google has re-imagined the classic car game, automatically allowing people to collect “punches” each time they encounter another Volkswagen also using the app. But the app also does much more than that!
Aside from preventing bruises, SmileDrive is designed to maximize fun on every trip, by connecting to a user’s car—any kind of car—through Bluetooth® wireless technology, to run in the background and track data for both everyday commutes and road trips. (Drivers cannot interact with the app, nor receive any notifications, while the car is in motion.) Then, after a drive is complete, the app uses factors like location, distance, time, and weather to deliver users their Smile Score and awards them with virtual bumper “stickers” for unique accomplishments earned while out and about. (I wish I had installed the app for my 3400-mile summertime roadtrip across the southwest United States!)
Fun SmileDrive Features
Thanks to convenient Bluetooth wireless technology, the app can be paired with your car to automatically record 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.) Once it’s activated, SmileDrive offers the following fun features:
• Violence-free Virtual “Punches” – Users can play a re-imagined virtual version of the classic “PunchBuggy” game. When two Volkswagen SmileDrive users encounter each other en route, the app will record a pain-free “punch.”
• 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 in a dynamic travelogue collected on a single URL.
• 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.
• Seamless Sharing – The app is linked to the user’s Google+ account and friends can be invited to follow their trips online, as well as to comment on photos and posts along the way. Everything recorded is shareable, should the user choose.
• Find My Car - Whether you’re
parked in a new location in a strange city or just
in the crowded parking lot
of your local mall, SmileDrive can help users find their car by logging the
vehicle’s last position with Google Maps, and even offer corresponding walking
directions when available.
Safety First and Other Fine Print:
Drivers should never attempt to operate the SmileDrive app or their mobile device while vehicle is in motion. Always pay careful attention to the road, and do not drive while distracted. The app requiresa compatible Android device. Standard data rates apply. The beta version of the app is available to download exclusively in the Google Play store (https://play.google.com/store).