Don’t you just hate it when you have to park in one of those giant parking lots where every aisle looks exactly the same? Or when you park in an unfamiliar city and end up wandering aimlessly as you attempt to backtrack your way to your car? If you have ever had an experience like this, then you might want to check out “Find My Car Smarter.” It consists of a very small USB Bluetooth device that plugs into any USB car charger and a free iPhone app that accompanies it. There is also an option to buy a small USB car charger if you don’t already have a spare lying around.
Unlike the many parked car location apps out there that require the user to remember to mark their location before they leave their car, the “Find My Car Smarter” app, (combined with the mini USB Bluetooth device), on the other hand, needs zero input from the user to save the location of where you parked your car. It accomplishes this with the wireless signal coming from the Bluetooth. As long as your iPhone is within range of the Bluetooth device, the app knows that you are still with your car. As soon as you get out of range (by walking a few feet away from your car), it saves your GPS position in the app. The app runs in the background so you only have to launch it once. Unless, of course, you fully shut down or reboot your iPhone, in which case you will have to launch the app again.
After you download the free app, the next step is to plug it into your car, turn on Bluetooth on your iPhone, and launch the app so you can begin the setup and Bluetooth pairing process. I found the interface and the setup process to be straightforward and easy to use. The “Find My Car” app has a ton of useful alerts such as parking meter, street sweeping, parking enforcement, and even an alert that goes off when you park, which reminds you to bring your iPhone with you. Users can also create multiple “geofences” at locations where they frequently park. This is designed to increase the reliability of the “Find My Car” system. The app even has the ability to sync the parked car location to a shared Drop-box account.
One of the many things I really liked about this product and app was its ability to allow multiple users/iPhones to link/pair with the Find My Car Bluetooth device. Many Bluetooth devices out there on the market can only be paired with one smartphone at a time, thus requiring the pairing with the first phone be deactivated before the Bluetooth device can be used with a different smartphone. Even though multiple iPhones can be paired to it, unfortunately, two iPhones cannot be connected to this particular device simultaneously. If two phones that are both paired come within range of the Bluetooth device, only one will be able to connect at a time. This is where the Drop-box syncing really comes in handy. The second user can also manually mark the parked cars location as well.
A feature I found very useful was the ability to have one of these devices in each of your cars. The app is smart enough to automatically connect to any of its paired Bluetooth devices without the need for any user interaction. This means that if I happen to use the car one day and the truck the next day, the app automatically works with either of them. Another nice feature of the app is its ability to open the parked car location into the Apple maps app. This allows you to get walking or driving directions back to your parked car.
An area where I found the “Find My Car” Bluetooth device to be nearly useless was when I parked in a multi level-parking garage. It was helpful in finding my way back to the garage, but couldn’t assist with finding the level the car was parked on. A solution would be to have the app ask you if you want to enter a temporary note with the parking location such as the floor number, color, or letter, as well as the number of the parking spot if labeled. Another feature I would have liked to have seen would be a much longer range Bluetooth transmitter (more RF power output & higher gain antenna positioned on the dash for an unobstructed signal) that would allow you to hone in on your car’s location when the accuracy of the GPS location is poor due to parking in a multilevel or underground garage.
If you have an iPhone 4S or higher, and you don’t regularly park in a parking garage, then the “Find My Car” device and app are a great solution to keeping track of where you left your car. I have used it in a wide range of scenarios and found it to be very reliable in nearly every situation. Battery life is slightly reduced on the iPhone, but not to any great extent. This is a great “set it and forget it” system that has a straightforward setup process and is easy to use. I highly recommend it for any driver who wants to simplify their parking experience and reduce the stress and worry of finding their car.
- Automatic and seamless background operation
- Very reliable
- Low power consumption
- Supports multiple paired iPhones
- App supports users having a Bluetooth device in every car they own
- Bluetooth device is tiny and unobtrusive
- Wide variety of features and options in the app
- Multiple iPhones cannot be connected simultaneously
- Not effective in multilevel or below ground parking garages
- Not compatible with Android phones, Windows phones, or Blackberry phones
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