Enter “Find My Car Smarter”. A hardware/software combo that promises to remember what you forgot. If you don’t think you need a device like this, spend a few minutes in the parking lot at the mall. You’ll see dozens of folks hitting their panic button, and frustratedly combing the aisles looking for their whip.
How It Works
FMC uses the new “Bluetooth Smart” technology. You hook a USB dongle to any USB port in your car. Most cell phone car chargers have one on board, but the FMC dongle also comes with a USB port powered by a cigarette lighter adaptor in case you don’t have that. The idea is simple, as long as the device is paired with your phone nothing happens. The moment your phone loses it’s pairing it assumes the car is off and it places a beacon for you on your map. Presto, a solution to finding your car that works in the background.
When you need to find your car, just launch FMC and follow the compass to your vehicle. It’s a very user friendly and simple interface, but a very good solution to a common problem.
FMC will pinpoint your car automatically. You can use your iPhone 4S compass to find your car even within a few feet (at least close enough to make your panic button work). It tells you how long your car was parked, and even has a handy parking meter feature to help you remember how long until you have to go feed the meter to avoid the maid.
FMC supports multiple vehicles too, so if you take a spouses car out, you’re still covered! You can even sync FMC to a Dropbox account so other people can view where you parked. That’s great for sharing a ride, or for a designated driver!
You have a ton of other options from setting FMC to play a tone when you park reminding you to take your phone with you, variable maps, imperial vs metric units of measurement and cell tower monitoring to help save battery life. The software for FMC is quite robust.
A Few Wrinkles To Be Ironed Out
In using this app just a few weeks ago I had a terrible drain on my battery. I read some comments on iTunes and lots of users did. FMC is still a new program, and the folks who programmed it are still ironing out the kinks. Two updates later and I don’t see any tax on my battery, so please ignore old comments on iTunes, this problem has been addressed.
The other problem I seem to encounter is that it won’t update my location if I drive a short distance. My office is less than 5 miles from my home, and since FMC uses both GPS and cell tower monitoring, the only solution is to restart the program… to me that’s the equivalent of placing a beacon on a different software. This is only a workaround… the folks at FMC filed for a feature request with Apple to get the ability to relaunch on Bluetooth connect/disconnect events, which will hopefully solve that problem too (although there is currently no ETA on when this feature would get into an iOS build). The places where I need this app the most are those least familiar to me, so I’m willing to let it slide while I await an update.
The Bottom Line
This is brand new, cutting edge technology. The tech behind FMC can only be used by iPhone 4S, and if you’re one to jump on the bleeding edge, you should expect some development issues along the way. The whole package is very inexpensive, so in spite of a few early adopter hiccups I think this is a solid product.