It plugs into the OBD-II port, usually found under the steering wheel on cars made after 1996, and connects with an app on your smartphone. It’s not restricted to Android either, and an iOS version will be made. At its most basic, the dongle acts as a 4G LTE hotspot, suitable for up to 10 devices, so unless you drive a bus, everyone in the car will get a Wi-Fi signal.
However, functionality goes way beyond that, giving the driver plenty of car data ranging from driving efficiency based on distance, time traveled, fuel economy, driving style, and even alerts if your car gets stolen. If you’re a business or parent loaning out the car to others, a geo-fence and speed limit can be set, and the dongle will notify you if either one is violated.
The onboard 4G LTE data connection sends data and location to a cloud server, which offers “Find My Car” GPS functionality. It can also let car owners know if the car has been suddenly moved, for example by a tow truck. Travel logs and expense reports are useful for company cars and those who work on the go. A virtual mechanic watches over the car and will alert you of any work needed — from oil changes to error codes — and will then guide you to a local repair shop.
Samsung’s striking up partnerships with insurance companies, where good drivers will get cheaper policies based on the data provided by the Connect Auto. The dongle comes with its own software development kit (SDK), so third-party developers will be able to make their own apps. To address privacy concerns, the Connect Auto will also come with the Knox data and security system from its Android phones.
The Samsung Connect Auto will find plenty of competition in the form of Vinli, Automatic, AT&T’s ZTE Mobley, and Verizon Wireless’ Delphi Connect. Samsung hasn’t disclosed the price, but says it’ll be reasonable, and you’ll find it in AT&T’s stores before the summer.