Next-generation Mercedes mbrace iPhone app hands-on (video)

Last year Hughes Telematics had the Mercedes mbrace iPhone app on display, providing some OnStar-like functionality like locking your car remotely, unlocking your car remotely, and even getting navigation to your car for those times when you park way out in the lot and can't find it again when you're suffering from post-shopping marathon mental lethargy. Now there's a new version coming, getting submitted to Apple at the end of the month for a February release, and it adds a suite of new navigation features. Full details after the break.

Basically the app helps to bring some of the in-car mbrace functionality to the app, notably navigation-related. In the car -- if you're an mbrace subscriber -- you can hit a button and speak to a text-to-speech system or an actual human being, with the winner sending your destination to the car. With the upcoming version of the app you'll be able to do the same, searching for POIs, contacts, or just entering a specific address, but without having to talk.

But, the coolest part is a feature called Drive2Friend. Enter in your pal's mobile number and the app will fire off a text message to them with your name and a message indicating that you're trying to find them. If the friend agrees their location is sent back to the car and you get directions, like, right there, even if they're clubbin' it up. We're told it uses cellular triangulation and that only a TXT is delivered, so it'll work with nearly any phone that's come along since the dawn of text messaging.

Again, the app is due in the App Store by February and naturally you'll need to be an mbrace subscriber. The current going rate for that is $280 for six months, but there is occasionally some wiggle room there depending on what sort of packages your local dealer may or may not be offering.