Smart cars are great in concept, but unless you’re making Silicon Valley money, they aren’t really an upgrade from your dumb, old ride — they’re a major investment. But with a smartphone in your pocket, you don’t really need a 17-inch, in-dash, touchscreen display throwing distractions at your eyeballs anyway. All you need is a good phone dock — and the Logi ZeroTouch is a great one.
Packing Bluetooth Smart and NFC technology, this Android KitKat-compatible device doubles as a phone holder and a voice-enabled assistant, making it a solid co-pilot. Designed to keep your eyes on the road and your hands off the screen, the ZeroTouch launches an accompanying Android app as soon as your handset latches onto the mount. The app isn’t much to look at — a big illustration of a microphone in a speech bubble pops up — but it understands any number of simple voice commands for hands-free calling, dictating text messages, getting driving directions and playing music. If your screen has gone dark after a period of inactivity, simply raise your hand to the screen like a high-five (or an optional Jedi-like finger-wag), and the phone wakes up again. No touching, whatsoever.
As simple as that sounds, ZeroTouch does give users the option to customize its experience. For instance, the app can interface with Spotify or Deezer for music. In addition to texting, ZeroTouch works with Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, and WhatsApp for messaging. For driving directions, both Waze and Google Maps are supported. And you can even program a custom greeting for the app to welcome you with, when your phone connects to the dock.
There are two versions of the dock, a $59 air vent mount and a $79 dashboard version. Both come with a pair of magnets, one for sticking on the back of a phone, the other for slipping underneath the case.
I have a leather case on my phone and drive a Jeep Wrangler, so I tested the ZeroTouch using its most tenuous combination: the dashboard-mounted unit with the under-the-case magnet. Dash mounts can be tricky business in a Jeep, especially if they lack suction, but because the vehicle’s air vents are below the radio, they’re a must. But I slapped my phone on the ZeroTouch, the assistant popped up at the ready, and I plowed over some speedbumps at 35 miles per hour. There was nary a wiggle.
The ZeroTouch app also provides two excellent location-based services, very intuitively. You can use the app to send your location to a friend via Glympse (without tapping on all sorts of apps and links), and when you get to where you’re going, the app flags where you parked. (Or where your phone was last connected to the mount.)
Sure, you could argue that a smart car can do all these things without a mount. But you know what else is smart? Hanging onto the car you’ve already got.