We’ve unveiled smartCARS 2.0 and its features and improvements. The live stream video is available below (smartCARS 2.0 is seen running).
The first and most noticeable change you’ll probably see when opening smartCARS 2.0 is the brand new user interface. smartCARS has always been about effective simplicity. With version 2, we wanted to take the simplistic approach on version 1 and modernize the look and feel even further. This began with doing away with a standard Windows-style form border. Starting with smartCARS 2.0, complete translations will be available. The further details regarding language availability are to be determined.
Our custom form design lets a virtual airline specify a color for their ACARS’s form without the end user’s Windows color scheme affecting the intended look. The flexibility of color customization extends into the program’s controls as well. Certain UI components, such as buttons, progress bars, and notification icons will match the selected color as well.Additionally, the ability to specify an icon and logo upon ordering smartCARS returns in 2.0. There is also an option to have a separate icon that shows on the form border itself. This is important if you want an icon that is solid white to better match the overall style of the program.
On top of the color customizations, the same functionality-related customization options from smartCARS 1.x will carry over to 2.0 (for example, disabling of new bids, displaying the time in UTC, and showing all weights in kilograms).
Powering all of these customizations will be an easy to use backend. As an airline administrator, you will be able to edit all settings (minus airline name and shortcut icon) without the trouble of a smartCARS redeploy. As well, for airlines who have in the past been forced to use a different ICAO than they preferred, this limitation is now gone.
Web-savvy airline administrators will appreciate the steps we’ve taken to open our airline-side back end to customization. The new smartCARS PHP files require less configuration and allow for more customization than ever before. We’ve implemented several requests we’ve received over the last two years and created a class framework to easily allow smartCARS to work with non-phpVMS/IPS websites.
Improved Information Display
Redesigning the UI for smartCARS 2.0 let us return to the drawing board with many of the pages in the program and implement requested features, as well as display certain information in a cleaner/more logical way. For example, when selecting a flight that you have bid on, you can now easily see the departure and arrival time, as well as what days of the week that flight is meant to be flown. Previously, the departure/arrival times were crammed next to their respective ICAOs and the days of the week were not even visible.
With smartCARS 2.0, we’re introducing smartCARS Premium, an optional per-pilot subscription-based service that provides the user with a variety of new features. The most notable feature is our new mobile app, which will be available on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. From this app, a pilot can check the current progress of their flight remotely, as well as receive notifications if their aircraft goes off course, or even if their flight simulator crashes.
Also coming with Premium is a flight recovery system. In the event of a flight simulator crash or computer malfunction, smartCARS will be able to restore a pilot’s aircraft (minus aircraft systems) and flight tracking information.
For those that enjoy flying at night, Premium offers an option to set smartCARS to a dark theme, which is much easier to look at during evening hours. The white form background will change to a dark gray and all text to white. The pilot will be able to specify a time range in the application settings for what time of day they want smartCARS to be dark (this can also be set to static, for no automatic changes).
This project is community driven and we take all feedback into consideration. During our live stream, several ideas were posed that were added to our list of items to review. If you have any ideas or worries, please be vocal with us. We respond to every question directly.
Developer Preview and Beta Access
You will be able to apply by registering at our internal virtual airline test bed. It is available at http://scdc.tfdidesign.com.