- T-Mobile updated its connected-car service, Syncup Drive, with features such as a gas station locator, real-time tracking for roadside assistance and a dashboard with diagnostic information about car maintenance, per an announcement. The new Syncup Drive app also has a new "virtual glovebox" to store digital copies of insurance, registration and maintenance history forms for easy access.
- The refreshed mobile app lets customers request Allstate Roadside Assistance and track the location of a coming tow truck in real time. SyncUp Drive is available in select T-Mobile stores throughout the country, and the app is available for download from Apple’s App Store or Google Play.
- Drivers can plug the Syncup Drive device into the on-board diagnostics (OBD-II) port of their car and sync it with the smartphone app to see the information about their car's condition when the engine warning light goes on.
T-Mobile’s Syncup Drive is a nifty gadget to help drivers with car maintenance, find nearby gas stations and request roadside assistance, and isn't intended to be an advertising and marketing platform like navigation apps from Google and Waze. However, the gas station locator potentially could let the mobile provider team up with gas station brands, similar to how Wendy's partnered with GasBuddy, the smartphone app that helps drivers find the lowest-cost gas at nearby stations.
Still, Syncup Drive is a value-added service that may help T-Mobile to distinguish its service from rival carriers like AT&T and Verizon, which both have roadside assistance programs. T-Mobile is seeking regulatory approval to merge with Sprint, a deal that would leave the U.S. with three major wireless carriers.
With U.S. drivers spending $212 billion during their commutes, wireless carriers, device makers and car manufacturers are investing heavily in developing connected-car technologies, including "tethered connectivity" that relies on smartphones. Chevrolet's MyLink and Hyundai's BlueLink system rely on Bluetooth technology to connect with smartphones. However, most carmakers are adopting "embedded connectivity" that integrates the information and entertainment platforms into the car's design, according to Deloitte.
As a sign of the importance of car connectivity, streaming audio company Spotify last month began testing its first hardware product: an in-car device that lets users request music and podcasts with voice commands. The company developed the "Car Thing" to learn more about how people listen to music and podcasts, although it's too early to tell if the company will mass-market the device.