IQon wishlist: Weather app

Marco has sent me an email that I think could be the basis for a fantastic series: an IQon wishlist.

If you’re new, or have been asleep for the past week or so, IQon is the Android-based entertainment/communications/everything hub that will be first used in the Saab 9-3 replacement late in 2012. It will run applications, similar to those used on an Android phone, but written specifically according to the Saab API and available exclusively through a Saab app store.

You can get a video introduction to the IQon system here.


Marco’s been thinking about this, thinking about what he’d want in an app for the IQon system. His first conclusion is for a weather app…….

The ‘imagination’ IQon Weather App for Saab:


  • Downloadable weather prediction and the current weather conditions in the form of observed temp, rain-, snowfall and even fog etc. This info can be obtained from airtraffic weather systems etc. and be updated as the journey progresses.
  • The above mentioned combined with navigation system, where you can input your destination gives you nice predictions of how and when the weather conditions will change during your drive.
  • The driver might also choose, what do do in changed weather conditions of choice like “when thick fog is predicted in my route, please direct me to the nearest gas station where I can have a meal/coffee”.
  • Another choice could be: “if rainfall (showers) can be avoided by choosing an alternative route, please do so”

This is just a quick thought on the issue. This list of features could go on and on…

And a final note. If these apps are percieved as distraction when the driver would need to touch the screen……. My answer would be: speech recognition. This technology has come far since it started. After a push of a button for example on the steering wheel the recognition is activated and you can browse your IQon menu by commanding it… No looking, no touching – just talk and listen …

We can leave the safety issue aside for a moment. Saab have already indicated that they’re looking at the operation of IQon to ensure it’s use will be as safe as possible.

The purpose of this entry is to kick off what I think could be a fun project – the IQon wishlist. Let’s stick with Marco’s idea of a weather app for the moment, which is a fantastic start. What other things could you envisage the app telling you? How else could it help? What else would you want to see in an app of this nature.


Of course, if you’ve got an app on your IQon wishlist, sketch it out and send it in.

64 thoughts on “IQon wishlist: Weather app”

  1. My wishlist:

    – Google navigation (w/ new traffic updates)
    – Places (to search nearby POI)
    – Pandora, Spotify, Grooveshark or whatever service floats your boat
    – Engine management (tune at your own risk?) maybe withing acceptable limits to keep your warranty
    – Engine codes to diagnose problems and search for solutions, instead of obd 2.
    – Tracking/trending of vehicle parameters and service schedules to remind you what work should be done.

    I’m almost more excited about the possibilities of the XDA community (or similar) in jailbraiking the iqon device to see its true potential.

    • – Engine management (tune at your own risk?) maybe withing acceptable limits to keep your warranty

      That sounds interesting. Let’s say your 18 years old son borrows the car, then you can de-tune the performance and maybe set a limit for maximum speed? That would be a safety feature in the spirit of Saab.

      • Something like that was actually mentioned in an interview, with an example of a time limited tuning when on holiday in Germany.

        • I really, really hate the idea of a subscription service to get more power for your car. I hate this even more than Saab selling someone a car with 160hp and then immediately paying another $1,300 to have it upgraded to 180hp with a simple software change. I don’t mind to pay for hardware upgrades or anything that has an intrinsic value in itself or has cost a lot of money to develop. As it is these software upgrades are a minor investment in time and resources for a car company and will have been done already during the normal development of the ECU software.
          The argument that a car gets sold with a certain amount of power for reliability reasons doesn’t really hold if you can immediately, keeping the original warranty, upgrade it to more power by spending more money.
          This and power subscription services is just milking the customer.

          • Let’ assume that an untuned engine is expected to last 250000 km (I’ve heard the H engine can last longer) before being worn out. An engine upgrade puts higher load on the components. Let’s just assume that this reduces the life time by 10%, ie to 225000 km. Will this still concern any warrantee? Hardly.

            However, if all cars would be tuned, that would significantly reduce the fleet life time and might impart the manufacturer’s image.

  2. Swade,

    I’ve emailed SaabUSA asking about the timeline to release the IQon system, but I have not received a response. Specifically, when the IQon system will be available in the 9-4X.

    The initial reports have been vague, only saying that there are test vehicles already on the road, and that it will be available on the new 9-3. Will it not be released before the new 9-3?

    • No. It will first be launched with the new 9-3. And after that it might be ported to the other cars. They aren’t however designed for it in the same way as the 9-3 (feeding sensors, climate control etc.) So I guess it requires additional work. And as I understood it, IQon still requires about 18 months of development time, so it will be ready at about the same time as the new 9-3.

    • Everything I’ve seen indicates that the new 9-3 replacement will see the first use of IQon and it won’t be in any other models before that. They system is still in development.

  3. We have got to have a Hirsch App where you can download a trial or full time performance upgrade direct into your car.

    Imagine driving along in a 180hp 9-3 and you want to try 200hp click the app and a few minutes later the upload has been completed and charged to your credit card.

  4. the main feature I want is wi-fi. Let me tether it to my phone for uplinking to the carrier network. Any built in 3G or 4G service that I have to tack on to my additional phone plan is a no go. Carriers in the US are finally offering hotspot tethering realizing that the mobile workforce has multiple devices.

    At a minimum give me the option to wifi tether or purchase 3G/4G new service. The whole point of Android is to NOT lock you in but open things up for you and give you more choice.

    I applaud SAAB for going Android but don’t lock us in to specific carrier restrictions which vary greatly from country to country.

    • re additional phone plan: in the first video under the text (Video: Saab IQon system) Christopher McKinnon is explaining that you dont need an additional phone plan, that you pay the whole internet account only once with the whole system (or car). At least I understood it so. Kindle 3G with free browsing feature is similar.

      • Very hard to believe that. It would have to be in the thousands of dollars. I’m with Bishop- give us the option of using our own carrier’s plan and linking it to IQon. I don’t need another $50/month bill for something I’m already getting for free because Saab wanted some cool apps in their car. Every other manufacturer is going with the integrated approach Bishop is describing. Let’s hope Saab doesn’t miss that.

        • let’s be positively surprised. I considered a link between your phone and IQon as certainty : bluetooth or wifi. An additional bill is not acceptable for me as well. Saab knows it, otherwise the wouldn’t note that in the video.

  5. Presumably if its on its uplinked at all times via 3G/GPRS?

    How about a fun and useful security app? Track your SAAB
    View other web enabled Saabs.

    Still think the screen should be duplexed or slide or tilt for passeenger benefit or help with the workload if you need to surf for restaurants or shopping venues etc

  6. They said it would be a capacitive screen. They are nice, but how about using it in cold weather (like in Scandinavia) where you drive with gloves on in the winter? In that situation a resistive screen would work better. But I guess they’ll take this into account.

    My other concern is that everything is operated from the same screen. Let’s say you’re navigating a unfamiliar busy city using the navigation. You then want to quickly adjust the temperature or the fan speed. Would you then need to skip away from the navigation temporarily to adjust the temp? With a button you can do it simultaneously. And I hope they don’t forget dual zone ACC either.

    On topic:
    Perhaps indirectly mentioned in some of the IQon videos:
    *App for closest Restaurant, hotel, parking
    *Tuning – it seems people believe you’ll be allowed to tune the car yourself, however in the videos it’s stated that you’ll be able to buy or subscribe to tuning (there’s no such ting as a free meal 😉 )
    *App that tells the cars performance and consumption rate and on that basis suggests how to drive more efficiently
    *App tapping into traffic control and actively rerouting around car jams and roadworks – I guess it works on some level on present GPS-systems

    A concern about the streaming of Spotify etc. is the actual coverage of 3G/4G. It’s seems very touchy about your location and the coverage is not as good in more rural areas, perhaps loosing connection quite a bit. And it’s quite sensitive to higher speeds.

    • I hope that they don´t remove all buttons in favour for the screen. The basic functions of the heating and ventilation should as today has its on buttons/knobs so we can use the systems also during the winter. I hope the ACC functions in IQon will be a supplement to real buttons and not the only interface. Making default settings and finetuning the ACC-system could be restricted the screen but as rodmylon writes, I would like to be able to drive the car with gloves when it is -20 outside…

    • I guess the type of screen could be optional or per market I know the Iphone screens just don’t work well with gloves but the resistetative screens that Blackberry used were awful-many of our users just did not go for that experience.

      You raise a good point about the interface though-it has to be very clever…SAAB have to be careful that there urge to streamline the switch gear does not end up berrying important secondary commands behind awhat will primarily be a smart Nav aid.

      Top Gear highlighted this when the I drive came out…to turn down the temp all you had to do was exit audio, exit infotainment screen, go to main menu, scroll past car settings into environmental settings select climate control selelct heat and turn the nob up. 7 mouse clicks and 20 seconds of work

      instead of just turning a knob. 1 click 2 seconds

      Balance is key to getting this right.

      Don’t get me wrong iQon is the way forward for some elements such as information relay (infotainment) but opertional functions should not cut through the relay-as in aircraft design “Operations” have distinct switches so you are not having to drill through menus and miss navigational alerts to reduce cabin temp or engage reheat. 🙂

      • McKinnon mentions in Swade’s video that there are two buttons in the upper left corner. One of them brings you to the car-settings (ESP, blutooth etc.) and the other to the HVAC (? climatecontrol) settings. This can be seen in the official IQon video from 0:58 onwards. (there seems to be controls for dual zone ACC). And McKinnon said that these 2 buttons would always be available to reduce the number of sub-levels in the system. It still leaves my concern unanswered, however. What happens when you want to adjust the temp while intensely navigating? It seems clear that the temp screen takes up the full area of the screen.

        I hope and trust that Saab will take this into consideration, however I’m supporting TGX4776’s idea of a few static buttons that are customizable. The PhoeniX seemed to have a few at the right of the screen, or I might be mistaken. However I think they should be placed under the screen.

  7. I would like an App which displays a whole bunch of engine/performance data. The usual metrics for aftermarket gauges – oil pressure, oil temp, coolant temp – plus some exotic ones, like current HP and torque, gas consumption in gallons per hour (which the new 9-5 already does at idle), a whole bunch of things like that. Altitude above sea level, perhaps?

  8. * My favorite navigation program, Waze (already available on Android and all major phone OS) with live traffic information

    * Ecodriving app (see what the former sister can do

    * automatic logbook function (company cars and when you have to do a milage report for billing etc). The information collected in the program (destination, time and milage) should be easily accessible from the office or whatever you prefer.

  9. I’m with you Greg, more data presented to the driver (at request). Then you’ve got millions of cool stuff to integrate with your android phone after you’ve paired it (remote lock, heater etc etc). This list can be made long 🙂

  10. 5 static buttons below the screen that are fully customizable. you push it and it pulls up temp settings, music, weather, phone, or what ever you need. that way you wouldn’t need to take you eyes off the road.

    If you have nav on it can switch to your heads up display or if Saab goes for digital gages moves to where your tachometer is.

    If those options are not available then when you select something else it should switch to a split screen vertical or horizontal (your choice)

    What Saab needs to do though is have user profiles for the car controlled by key fobs.
    each key fob can be set up on a computer Mac, PC, or Linux. With key less entry and start becoming common now when you get close enough to unlock the doors, unlock them manually from a distance or remote start the car, it should adjust the seating position set the climate control adjust all the mirrors even the rear view mirror for that individual. You can then adjust any features via the iQon in the car. It should be temperature dependent as well so if it’s cold the heated seats and electric heater engage, or if it’s hot the aircon engages.

    And lastly a WiFi hot spot for passengers separate from the main signal so if you have music streaming and someone wants to stream a video on a laptop it wont interfere.

    • I absolutely agree that some kind of hardware controls are needed. I love touchscreens, but not while driving, it’s too distracting. Maybe we could have something like a game pad controller on the steering wheel?

      About the ‘Key fob user Profile’ thing you mention – it’s already available in the new 9-5 but you do the profiling in the car computer.

  11. Oh and last item make all android apps available on the system.

    Anything except for what is available on the 5 buttons should only be able to be accessed while the car is in park.

  12. Integrate an extra Screen for the passenger, where all apps are available during the drive.
    You are not allways alone in the car, and it will give access to relevant apps, which can not be used by the driver from a safety perspective.
    Maybe the extra screen can be integrated in the sun shield og the glove compartement.

    Multimedia screens in the rear have to have possibility to use apps, which is not actually influencing the driving safe, maybe the possibility to download music and movies for the passengers.

  13. A service log showing what have been repaired in the car in its lifetime, and the possibility to continously write issues to be discussed with the workshop, when the car goes in for the next service.

    Maybe even a possibility to communicate directly with a Saab hotline, when something is not working as planned.

    This will aslo give possibility to catch up on general problems, to improve spareparts or necessary service updates when the car goes in for service.

  14. Wifi. or at least the ability to add it later.

    DNLA or Airplay streaming would solve a lot of issues.

    Something that actually tracks oil changes would be very helpful. You have the sensor, and running a log will improve resale value.

  15. I’d like:
    -A calendar synchronised with my work calendar in Lotus Notes. The adresses of the appointments should appear in the navigation system.
    -A Lotus Notes email client would be much welcome as well.
    -Podcast player through the stereo.
    -A satnav based tracking/logbook app for registration of tax-free mileage allowance.

    • Finally a positive writing in a UK magazine. Maybe this could ttwist the minds of the motoring journos there.

      – ‘Saab, bless its innovative Scandinavian heart, has unveiled its new PhoeniX concept, with an iQon entertainment system based on Google’s hugely popular Android software. Yeah, we know, Saab hasn’t been trendy for a while now but it’s okay to be impressed… go with it.’

  16. On the Lotus-stuff. It’s already in my smartphone, but why not take advantage of the bigger screen of the iQon? And at the moment, I have to manually enter the adresses of the appointments during the day. It would be nice, if they were automatically transferred from the calendar to the satnav every morning.

  17. IQon is a great invention, Please SAAB allow us to use our existing service/phone for connection to the network, I don’t need more subscriptions.

    Here is my dream app: TRACKDAY app:
    LAP times, g forces, speed thru turns etc.
    projection of ideal line on headsup display,
    Break zone indicator ala GT5/Forza motorsports
    Obviously with beginner/intermediate/Pro training programs.

    Want to take my NG9-3 to the Nurburgring and enjoy its handling and power and have the car learn me how to get quickly and safely around the track!

    • Yepp, I’m with you. I dont want yet another Internet supscription. We are two in the household, and uses 4 different internet connections!

      As soon as my phone (new or uppgraded) gets android 2.2, I’ll lett one or two of them go. Then I will use my phone as a WLAN router. And my IQon car will be able to use this as a connector.

      SAAB did show this kind of stuff a couple of years ago. At the same time as SonyEricsson presented there first xperia, SAAB had some stuff that made the car controlled by this phone. Such as seating position as a profile connected with the xperia phone.

      This is a great thing!

  18. Must be possible to make some service related communication through this?
    – Saab sends out a message about recalls to the cars directly.
    – “Time for service” followed by the possibility to book a service directly.
    – Error code reading.
    – Access to the service history of the car. This would probably require some cooperation with the dealer…

  19. I’d love to see something like an Aircraft HSI/EFIS which deals with some fairly basic elements on any long journey-eg
    Dintance to go
    Distance gone
    route as a set of magenta vectors
    current direction/HDG
    Theree should be some basic met/WX information like pressure, pressure trending, cloubase, predicted cloudtype (CB/CU/STR etc) any other condition like hail snow or fog.
    There should be the option to overlay weather radar information onto the basic map area (where you are now -where your headed)

    the lower right should vehicle operational eg speeds avg speed, fuel range, engine temps pressures, voltages, MPG, countdown to service info, faults and messages and the lower right should be intermal temp radio RDS/DAB info, local time

    All in all a complete situational picture on one screen like any modern aircraft EFIS home screen.

    Maybe a bit gimmicky but I’d love it!

  20. nice topic. my wishlist :

    – the promised “1x payment and than forever” internet subscription for 3G/4G/etc + wifi connectivity for passengers in car
    – ability to download apps from Android Market / AppBrain and simmillar for personalisation (i’d like to have accuweather, another clock, streaming music from my homePC etc)
    – allowing widgets – important for 1-touch on/off connectivity etc
    – to let some buttons on the dashboard physical instead of digital

    there are some comments on this also on my saab convertible blog :

  21. ditto on making it work with existing phones and phone subscriptions if possible.

    There should be a way for a passenger to have full access to the system. Perhaps the system will only work when driver has both hands on steering wheel while under way.

  22. How can one always be looking for visual information. Audio cues are the only way to receive critical updates. I have the official weather band radio in my Viggen, like the Coast Guard recommends for boaters. Just driving in London today which is far worse than even Washinton, DC., made me even more aware of paying attention.

    To my chagrin I discovered that Saab GB had moved from Griffin House, Luton to Milton Keynes. Google still showed the old address! After I spoke to the receptionist I discovered they had moved to Milton Keynes ages ago. Also I was out of time.The Griffin House was for Vauxhaull (GM) which also uses a Griffin badge.

    Griffin Up

  23. In addition to performance by subscription, why not offer 3 standard states of tune: Economy, Normal, Sport. That way, each owner could have an engine that matched their style of driving. This would work well with TGX4776’s key fob idea. Tie it in to the fob so each driver has a default engine tune matching their liking, but which can be overridden on the IQon. And, offer a teenager fob which locks out certain IQon functions so the parents can loan the car to their son/daughter and know it won’t be hot rodded, but have the IQon record their driving speed, etc.

    • The eXWD in the PhoeniX has 3 settings: Sport, economy and traction to choose from. I guess this is a good start for your suggestion. Additional HP tuning might then be down-loadable.

    • Sorry if I’m too harsh, but
      my right foot is already capable to drive in Economy, Normal and Sport mode, depending on my needs, I don’t need no computer to take this job for me.

  24. My Wish:

    Smart web connected tool to track mileage in real time and in different categories. Have a web service automatically email you a log of your mileage as it has been tagged at the end of every month.

    That would be great!

    • That’d be neat.

      For business trips just press the business trip icon and the milage is recorded and easily read and reset for each month. For me that drives 500-1000 miles every month in the line of work that would be pretty usefull.

  25. I mentioned in an earlier post about security apps. A bit like Find My iPhone and MobileMe. If a car is stolen a quick call to Saab Security with erg number and pin code – the car could be traced, disabled and even lock the culprits inside. Even if the baddies manage to block the GPRS signal, once it does establish the car can be disabled.

    It all depends on whether the vehicle management system can be locked to the IQon system. This could be done centrally by Saab, rather than a dealer with a tool that could be acquired by others.

    Or would IQon become the engine management system itself?

  26. What about an app stopping car and locking engine upon receiving a secret sms code?
    If somebody robs your car, you can lock it by sms and receive back lat/long data to find it…

  27. I’d like to see some deep diagnostics. (Level three Scotty!) With access to NAV and a few cheap accelerometers sprinkled around the drive train and suspension, you could receive messages like: “Yesterday a 2:10pm while traveling north on route 75 the right front wheel encountered a road hazard. Vibration characteristics now indicate increasing separation of tread in the right front tire. At present operating conditions, estimated time to tire failure is 13 hours. Chassis alignment calibration indicates -0.25 degrees anomalous toe setting. Replace right front tire and adjust or repair front suspension. Also, rear inboard CV joint indicates excessive wear. Estimated time to failure 3500 kilometers.”

  28. Wouldn’tit be great to know some of the mentioned 500 input signals in the system, just as feed for imaination?
    Why don’t make this posting a permanent Billboard for input to Saab. The intention for IQon is that it should be an ‘Open innovation system’. I believe there are many skilled people here who could contribute and a lot of people with ideas that can be taken further with the help of people of those with technical ‘app’ skills.
    One idea could be to create an SU app. Let’s say you are on ‘route66’ it could pinpoint other SU members you are approaching along the road.Tthen you could arrange an appointment for a coffee break along the road and meet a person in real life who you’ve onlly seen as a signature and commenter on this blog before. Or you can just wave and say a Saab-hello as you pass each other.
    Another possibility could be some kind of ‘Track recorder’ like in the racing games. Making a virtual replay of your travel with various statistics etc

  29. Finally someone mentioned it – the SaabsUnited app! One of my favourites. I’d like it to read out the latest posts and all the fine comments while I drive to work.

    It could also analyze the content of the comments and the “saab will be doomed if x” or “300 hp is not enough” type of comments would have a nagging voice, whereas the “go saab we love you” pieces would be read in a nice seductive tone. Then if you know the commenter, you could record a sample and have his/her real voice used. (I think we’re getting close to a real life Knight Industries 2000 here and it’s only taken 30 years. The nice suggestions by ljjones also made me think of KITT in the first place. I guess I’d rather have my JC9-3 pick me up on request than let it try the opposite – beam me up to the car.)

    The embedded pictures and videos would be queued and projected by HUD when the driver stops for a red light.

  30. Being my absolute favorite 4×4 of all time, I can’t help but think that Saab SHOULD by all means implement something like this into their upcoming screens, especially the one that will debut the IQon. It’s not apps/features per say for the IQon itself, but the screen should have such a feature. Truly amazing!

  31. It is not in my wish list, but I think that many Saabers would like to have an App like this.
    Ant the developer seems to be thinking about porting it to Android, as the currently supported platforms are a little bit dated.

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