For almost three years now, Metromile has offered a pay-per-mile insurance service that tracked your trips via an OBD-II reader (a device that plugs into your car's data port) called the Pulse which also provided other useful info like your mileage, parked location and fuel costs. Today, Metromile has unveiled the Tag, a wireless device that uses Apple's iBeacon tech to do almost the same thing. Instead of plugging into that aforementioned OBD-II port -- which is in every car built and sold in the US since 1996 -- the Tag can be placed anywhere in your vehicle. It then communicates that same car and trip info to your phone over Bluetooth LE (which does mean that both the Tag and your phone needs to be in close proximity in order for it to work).
The accompanying Metromile app -- available on both iOS and Android -- will then let you do things that you could already do with the OBD-II reader. You can figure out the best commute times, find a parked location and track your mileage. In select markets like San Francisco and Chicago, you can also get street cleaning alerts. The only thing that the Tag can't do is get a vehicle health report, as that still requires direct access to the car's computer. And yes, the Tag is available for free, to both customers and non-customers alike. The catch? If you want to sign up for Metromile's pay-per-mile insurance, you still have to use that regular ol' OBD-II reader.
But if all you want is some insight into your car's performance, then it couldn't hurt to try the Tag out. After all, it's one of the first consumer implementations of iBeacon we've seen outside of airports, retail stores and baseball parks. It should be available today for folks in California, Oregon, Illinois and Washington State, with further expansion slated for later this year.