The Dash smart driving assistant that made its debut earlier this year on Android has launched on iPhone answering one of the most frequently heard requests from its users. The Dash app, which is backed by Techstars New York, connects to any ODB-II dongle that you can get for your car (most cars made since 1996 should have one that’s easily accessible) providing feedback about your trips like fuel efficiency and even info about vehicle diagnostics.
The on-board diagnostic (ODB) port on modern cars is something that is typically only used by mechanics, mainly when they’re trying to determine the reason behind warning lights that signal potential engine or other car problems. Dash plugs into that available data trove, connecting to an ODB dongle that has Bluetooth connectivity (which are available on Amazon starting as low as $10).
I’ve been using Dash with my vehicle for a while now, and it adds a lot to the driving experience. It can tell you what’s wrong with your car if a light activates on the dash, for instance, but it can also tell you how much it should cost to fix that problem at a reasonable rate, including a breakdown of parts vs. labor, and it can even let you turn the light off.
Dash also rates your trips, based on fuel efficiency and measures of driving skill, including how aggressively you’re braking. After each trip, the app will provide feedback about how you could’ve improved your score, which means increasing the energy and cost efficiency of your driving, and prolonging the life of your brake pads and engine parts. Other features include locating nearby gas stations and prices, as well as road emergencies and mechanics, all without having to leave the app.
Other startups have tackled this kind of ‘Fitbit for cars’ product, including Automatic, which also pairs its software with a proprietary ODB dongle called the Link. Dash’s app gives users flexibility on the hardware side in terms of what kind of money they’re willing to spend, however, and beyond that, its design is top-notch and already feels at home on iOS despite its Android debut.
Dash is optimized for U.S. use as of right now, and available only on the U.S. iTunes Store, but it’s a great (and free) solution for those looking to keep better track of their driving habits, either in order to optimize their automotive experience or just for curiosity’s sake.