OnStar is soooo 2007. Rather than building some kind of old school cell phone telematics system into its cars, Mini is going the hip, modern route for roadside assistance. Mini USA has collaborated with insurance company Allstate to create an Apple iPhone app (also available for some GPS-equipped Blackberries) for owners to automatically call for roadside assistance. When you install the app, you put in your vehicle ID number and select a photo of your car if you want.
Here's another iPhone application that demonstrates that soon there is nothing you won't be able to know if you have just one device. DevToaster has created an app called Rev that reads information straight from the OBD-II port on your car and displays it on your iPhone. When it's fully operational, Rev can display things like vehicle speed, RPM, fuel consumption, calculated engine load, and a host of other parameters. You'll even be able to check and reset engine and error codes.
We've known for a while that the new iPhone 3G would have the magic of GPS, but we didn't fully realize how that power might benefit car owners. While we've seen a few semi-cool, car-centric applications available for the device -- from mpg calculators to maintenance reminders -- this program could prove the most useful for the forgetful among us.