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Verizon's Hum will turn your beater into a connected car

Verizon is announcing Hum today, a two-piece hardware system bundled with a phone app and monthly plan that give basically any old car (1996 or newer) OnStar-like capabilities, ranging from stolen vehicle tracking to Check Engine light remote diagnosis. One module, equipped with a CDMA radio and GPS, connects to your car's on-board diagnostic (OBD) port, while another clips to a visor and serves as a speakerphone with concierge and emergency service buttons. A Bluetooth connection also allows you to take calls through your phone, though the Hum service itself funnels all of its data usage and location tracking through the OBD module.

Hum's companion app, which works with both Android and iOS, lets you get full descriptions of any error codes happening inside your car, along with price ranges for fixing them — how much a new oxygen sensor might cost, for instance. The app can also show you where your car is parked and track it in the unfortunate event that it gets boosted — Hum's customer service reps will connect with police and give them tracking data directly.

It used to be called Verizon Vehicle

If this sounds familiar, that's because it is: besides entering a crowded aftermarket connected car market that includes products like Automatic and Vinli, Hum itself was announced back in January at Detroit's North American International Auto Show — but back then, it was known as Verizon Vehicle. The company says it ultimately decided to drop "Verizon" the name to emphasize that you don't need to be a Verizon subscriber to use it (in fact, even if you are, Hum is still a separate sign-up with a separate bill, and it won't currently be offered in Verizon Wireless brick-and-mortar stores).

Hum can be ordered today online, where it'll run $14.99 per month on a two-year contract; the hardware is included at no additional charge.