It was one of the apps shown off at Apple’s WWDC Keynote speech talking about iPhone OS 3.0 back in June of this year, but Zipcar has taken its sweet time making an official appearance in the App Store. The application is finally here (iTunes link), so urbanites who’ve been waiting to make a trip to Costco to load up for the winter, you’re in luck.
For those who aren’t familiar with Zipcar, it’s a car-sharing service that allows members to rent a car during the day for running errands, etc. Cars can be picked up from convenient parking lots located throughout the urban areas served by Zipcar and dropped off again in another designated area. Zipcar members pay a monthly subscription fee and hourly and daily rates for use of the car.
The Zipcar app was one of those touted as taking advantage of new iPhone OS 3.0 features to deliver innovative functionality for users of Apple’s wonder device. And it seems to work just as advertised. The app uses your location as a starting point to find nearby cars available for booking. You can filter your results by time, type and model, which will highlight pins on the map in green that fit your criteria.
All of Zipcar’s automobiles are named, and once you find one that fits your needs and schedule, you can book it directly from the app, so long as you are a Zipcar subscriber. If you’re not, you can still try out the free app, you just won’t be able to book any cars. Clicking on a car at any location provides you with further information, including the hourly and daily rate for the vehicle in question, and supplementary information, including things like cargo capacity and any special features.
The iPhone app also includes a virtual wireless entry key fob that connects with a car once you’ve booked it. If you’re not a member and you’re just playing around with the app like I was, you also won’t be able to use the remote car unlocker/horn honker, although you can use it to make noise on your device itself. If you are a member, the inclusion of this feature means you won’t need anything besides your iPhone to get on the road.
Even though I don’t have a membership myself, I can tell this app is an impressive example of using the iPhone to help make people’s lives easier. It further simplifies a process which is meant to be simple to begin with, and I only hope other companies are watching and follow suit.