Find my Car Smarter Bluetooth 4.0 hands-on

Find my Car Smarter is a combination iPhone app and Bluetooth 4.0 accessory whose simple purpose is to easily, automagically keep track of your car when you've parked it somewhere, anywhere, that may be difficult to find on your own.

Whether it's a crowded mall parking lot, event venue spill-over, or as close as you could come on a city street, Find my Car Smarter's tiny USB Bluetooth 4.0 dongle will fire up and drop a GPS beacon where ever you park, and the Find my Car Smarter app will lead you right back.

Here's how it works -- the Find my Car Smarter dongle plugs right into a USB port on your car, or into a USB adapter that plugs into the "cigarette lighter"/ac power in your car and stays there, minding its own business. When you turn off the car and power gets cut, the ultra-low-power Bluetooth 4.0 connection causes the connected app to realize you've parked, and your iPhone GPS records your location.

You then go shopping, eventing, or street-festivaling to your heart's content, free from the cognitive burden and mental overhead of having to remember where you parked. When you're done, launch the Find my Car app and it'll show you where you are relative to your car, and you just follow the directions back.

I did have some trouble with earlier versions of the app, and it did take some getting used to to figure out how it was supposed to work. Mostly because it does so much on its own -- I kept trying to over think and over do it. When I finally learned to trust it, like autocorrect, it did great.

The key is to just get out of your car and go. Don't touch the app, don't touch the dongle, don't give into old, outdated habits. Just. Go.

The only time you have to launch the app is when you need to find your car. The only time you have to touch the Bluetooth 4.0 dongle is never.

I'm a huge fan of futuristic technologies. I'm also terrible at remembering where I parked. For someone like me, that makes Find my Car Smarter not only fantastic, but incredibly helpful.

The Find my Car Smarter app is free in the App Store. The Find my Car Smarter Bluetooth 4.0 dongle is $25, or $30 with a USB adapter.

Free - Find my Car Smarter app - Download now

$25+ - Find my Car Smarter accessory - Buy now

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Find my Car Smarter Bluetooth 4.0 hands-on


This seems kind of pointless since most car's cigarette lighters don't go directly to the battery, if car isn't running then whatever is plugged in doesn't get power (protects from battery drain). So no power means the bluetooth dongle wouldn't be able to transmit unless you park your car and leave it running.

And couldn't some1 just use the panic button on their remotes? i understand some cars are older and don't have the feature but majority do.

I think that is covered by the "When you turn off the car and power gets cut, the ultra-low-power Bluetooth 4.0 connection causes the connected app to realize you've parked, and your iPhone GPS records your location." section. Which is why it needs to be BT 4.0 and requires an iPhone 4S. (or, presumably, the new iPhone TBA)

That's the point... When the power goes off it activates. And the panic button can't cover many city blocks, which this can.

What happens when the car doesn't cut power to the lighter? For instance, on my Saturn Vue or my Ford Explorer, I still get power when I cut the engine.

Bluetooth range is 30 feet and we've tuned our transmit power down to ~10ft. As you walk out of range of the device a pin will drop, saving a location about ~10ft away from your car.

If that is the case then this app still won't help you. This article says nothing about that being the case. In fact it says it uses the iPhone's GPS to record your location and drop the beacon. Even if the app could solely rely on the dongle for its location, its range would be under 300 ft. under ideal conditions. The only benefit I could see is it might be a little more accurate on the location once you get into range of the bluetooth dongle, assuming the dongle could do that. But all the dongle appears to do is detect when power is cut, launches the app and drops a beacon based on the iPhone's GPS location. So, this app/dongle is doing essentially the same exact thing as you dropping a pin manually at your location.

Pixelpusher is absolutely correct, our system automates the manual process of dropping a pin. If you're in a location where you can't get a GPS manually such as an underground parking lot, then our system will be limited in the same fashion. Our system's intention to save you from having to remember to manually drop a pin and to be there for you on those occasions where you need a nudge to remember where you parked.