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2021 July
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Car and Driver: Samsung Dongle Brings Car Monitoring and WiFi to Older Cars


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Blame Progressive Insurance. Its Snapshot was the insurance industries’ first attempt at 24/7 vehicular watchdogging in the connected era. Samsung now has ConnectAuto. It’s similar to the underwriter’s dongle in that it taps the OBDII CAN-bus, which has been mandated on all U.S. cars since 1996, to monitor car and driver performance.

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Not all insurance companies will adopt the third-party Snapshot; some undoubtedly will. To some customers, paying premiums based on individual driving data is logical. Why pay premiums based on a 10,000-miles-per-year average when you only drive 7000? Or, what if you never drive during rush hour and always obey the speed limit? Of course, those insurance companies that adopt ConnectAuto’s services likely will resell your data to marketing firms, sans customer names of course.

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Not all insurance companies will offer a personalized discount based on individual driving behavior, but the tool has a few other features that might make it useful. Business owners may sleep better knowing they will get automatically generated emails containing details of where and when company cars moved. Parents may feel the same, especially if a teen driver is suspect of breaking posted speed limits.

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But what good is this for me, you’re thinking? (We feel the same.) Well, ConnectAuto can coach you into driving more economically—think way less throttle. If your car goes missing, there’s a “Find My Car” app that’ll locate your ride using cellular and GPS networks. It also will inform you what your car’s check-engine light actually means. Finally, and to some most importantly, ConnectAuto includes a WiFi hotspot to keep vehicle occupants satiated with Internet via AT&T’s network. That may be the most valuable feature to those who drive older models and have a brood foaming at the mouth for streaming services.

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The cost of ConnectAuto and its monthly network fees are still to be determined. It goes on sale during the second quarter of this year. We’ll try to get our hands on one to see if it is a worthy addition to our aging fleet of personal cars.

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