Travis asked: “I have an interest in the Applications and the dongles for reading the trouble codes for your car. I recently purchased an OBD2 dongle and I noticed on your program that you don’t usually talk about car electronics and the new ways of diagnosing and tuning up your car via a phone app, and I’d like to get your thoughts on that.”
Travis, we actually haven’t seen too many new smart tools to diagnose or tune up cars lately.
The biggest advance we’ve seen in the OBD dongles is that they now connect to your phone via Bluetooth rather than requiring a computer with the right software installed.
If you’re a car guy you may know that there are some OBD tools to reprogram the ECU if you get larger tires, or just for better performance, but surprisingly we haven’t seen those interface with a phone yet. The kind we’re familiar with use physical switches in the device itself.
We’ve seen and used OBD devices in cars for GPS tracking and driving data. Those are usually geared at parents that want track their teens when they begin to drive, to know if they’re speeding through a school zone on their way to see someone the parents disapprove of, for example. Similar devices are used in fleets to see if employees are where they’re supposed to be, or if they went fishing on company time instead.
There’s one more interesting use we’ve seen lately, devices like Automatic integrate your car to your smarthome and can do things like locking your smartlocks when you drive away, or open your garage for you when you turn the corner.
The thing about those devices is that your phone can now tell that you’re driving, so it may be less expensive to just have your phone talk to your smarthome, unless you’re interested in also having access to the on board diagnostics and constant GPS tracking that having an Automatic device plugged into your OBD port would offer.