Samsung’s New Car Dongle Gives Passengers LTE Connections
Samsung is jumping into the connected car race with the announcement of its new Samsung Connect Auto dongle.
It’s not a service like Android Auto or CarPlay, which integrates with a dashboard display to basically recreate all of your smartphone’s useful features on a larger screen. Instead, the Samsung Connect Auto is one of those dongles that plugs directly into your car’s OBD-II port—but it does a bit more than just tell you what your car’s check engine light means.
First up, the Tizen-based Samsung Connect Auto will function as a Wi-Fi hotspot for anyone in your vehicle. Assuming you’re not one of those people who gets carsick looking at your smartphone or tablet while a passenger in someone’s car, you’ll be able to connect to the dongle using your device’s Wi-Fi connection. It, in turn, will connect to an LTE cellular network—AT&T at first, for the United States—to give you data while you’re driving. We don’t yet know what the price of the dongle is, nor how much this feature might cost on a monthly basis, but we’re guessing it’ll be around $10 a month or so (based on how much similar hardware costs).
Beyond that, expect to see similar tracking services for your vehicle that you’d otherwise be able to get on other OBD-II dongles.
“Samsung also encourages safe driving behavior by using geo-fencing and driver rating algorithms. In the event of an accident, emergency alerts notify the driver’s contacts and accident concierge services are provided. A ‘Find My Car’ app also helps in locating your car in real-time using LTE and GPS,” reads Samsung’s description.
Like other dongles, the Samsung Connect Auto will also be able to give you a bit more information about any errors or issues your car is trying to tell you—like the aforementioned “check engine” light example. If you have no idea why that’s on, the Samsung Connect Auto can help decipher the specific error codes your car is coming up with. If you’re lucky, you just forgot to put on your gas cap, or whatever issue your vehicle has is something that you can quickly fix with a suggestion from an accompanying Samsung app. If not, a trip to the mechanic might be in your future.
Samsung is allegedly looking to partner with a variety of auto manufacturers to get its dongle preinstalled in various cars, which could help push sales a little bit for potential buyers who are attracted to the concept of a “connected car.” It’s also working to partner with some insurance carriers. If you don’t mind sharing data about how you drive with your carrier, you might be eligible for some insurance discounts based on your driving habits.
The Samsung Connect Auto is expected to arrive in the second quarter of 2016 in the U.S., and likely debut internationally by the year’s third quarter.