by Laura Neilson
After announcing it at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference last July, car-sharing service Zipcar launched their newest "mobile" venture, an iPhone application yesterday. Improving on their already useful mobile site, the software allows members to locate, reserve and unlock cars in the fleet.
The free download uses the phone's location-based capabilities to find the nearest available Zipcar vehicles with a Google map-style interface, making a quick overview for immediate or later rentals effortless. Sorting by hours of availability, type or model adds another layer of functionality, but in our testing so far it seems that the search results could use some refining.
Once you're on the road, the device's virtual key fob unlocks the designated car or truck from a close distance. (And if the car's too hard to find in its parking lot, simply tap a button to remotely honk its horn.) While navigating through your phone might prove more tricky to use than the real thing, playing with the feature on a rental yesterday has the kind of futuristic appeal that got us hooked on the business in the first place.
Other features making the service even easier to use include more streamlined way to extend reservations and a one-touch call button that connects to Zipcar customer service. From a company that reinvented the car rental business, there's not too much more we could ask for in the way of a reinvented mobile interface.