Practically every vehicle sold in the United States since 1996 has a data port within, something called an OBD II socket. Over the years, a few adapters have allowed those ports to communicate with smartphones, but none of the existing options have truly packaged together a seamless, polished experience. For those who are looking for just that, a company by the name of Automatic has launched a new 'Automatic Link' -- a small dongle that plugs directly into the OBD II port of your car, and communicates directly with your iPhone 4S or iPhone 5. It's scheduled to ship in May, and the app is certainly the star of the show. It's designed to communicate over Bluetooth 4.0, leaving the iPhone 4 and older units in the dust -- but we appreciate the use of a low-energy protocol.
The app will monitor your routes, opine on your driving habits in order to save you fuel, call 911 if you're in an accident, and shoot you any error messages that pop up. Instead of a random dash light, this will shoot the specifics to your phone, and you can even use your phone to clear the error once you've fixed the issue.
In the fall, an Android app will join the fray, but it looks like those who live outside of the U.S. won't be able to join in the fun. At least not yet, anyway. Pre-orders are open today at $70.