04
Apr
Automatic-Thumb

Most apps, excluding the free ones, cost you money. Few work to save you money. As it turns out, Automatic is that type of app. This little piece of software serves as a driving assistant that's less concerned about where you're going and more focused on how you get there. It keeps track of how you drive, alerting if you're accelerating (or braking) too hard, speeding, or engaging in other shenanigans that come back to bite you at the pump. It tracks these things, then provides a score, with higher scoring drivers ultimately saving the most money.

Automatic1 Automatic2 Automatic3 Automatic4

Automatic helps decipher the "check engine" light that tends to pop up without any explanation, arming you with more information when the time comes to deal with a mechanic. The app also tracks your car's location, allowing you to pull it up on a map and reduce the amount of aimless wandering performed in parking lots.

Automatic6

This functionality all depends on a separate dongle, the Automatic Link, that plugs into your car's data port. It goes for $99.95, which isn't exactly a small investment. But depending on your vehicle, that's only two or three tanks of gas. If the product gets the results it claims, and you don't get so annoyed by it that you sling the Link out the window, it wouldn't take too long to recoup that cost.

Automatic isn't the first app of its type for Android, but there's something to be said for its simplistic interface and ease-of-use. How much there is to be said is up to you. Links to the app and the website are available below.

Automatic

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

    Ugh, I'll stick with the Dash app and my ~$15 obd2 adapter I picked up off Amazon.

    • JT

      I think i paid $10 for my OBD2 adapter on Newegg. So, can I somehow create an audible tone when my RPM go above 4k? That would save me ~$85 compared to this thing.

      • Michael

        Dash doesn't seem to let you set specific alerts like that, there is a setting for "Driving Alerts" under "Audio" in the settings but no details about it and it is only a checkbox. They do use a green/yellow/red bar to show how your current acceleration affects your MPG.

        • JT

          I haven't tried Dash, I've been using torque. For the non motor heads, I'm sure this will work fine, but I think they're pricing themselves out of the market.

      • Guest

        Does your car not get louder or have a tac to tell when you go above 4k RPM?
        Serious question.

        • JT

          I was suggesting that as an alternative to a $10 obd2 adapter in a white package with a dedicated app. I personally drive a newer muscle car. Hp >> mpg

          • shadowx360

            Idk which muscle car you have, but for the GT500, you can set an audio alert at any RPM you want. Useless for saving gas considering real world MPG is around 14 but very useful for avoiding hitting the fuel cut-off at redline.

      • tehboogieman

        Never used Dash, but I think you can achieve this type of alert with Torque. If not it can definitely be done with RacingMeter plugin for torque

    • Michael

      I had a Bluetooth OBD2 adapter that I also got from Amazon over a year ago for about $20. Dash came out and it worked instantly with the adapter, and Dash is a much prettier app. Dash also has the same features, including the parking finder that all the other commenters seem to be excited about. Not sure why anyone would opt for this copycat app.

      • Jaymoon

        To be fair, Dash came out in late January? Automatic sent out it's first adapters to Kickstarter backers in November/December -ish. The apps are similar in what they accomplish, but are totally different when compared side-by-side.

    • RH

      LOL hundred bucks for the dongle?
      Found a OBD2 adapter and use Torque on my Mustang, works perfectly.
      They should open it, then sell the app for a few bucks. This one won't last long at those prices!

      • tehboogieman

        Those cheap ODB2 adapters are knockoffs that aren't as good as the originals. I don't know what Automatic uses, but the legit adapters run at least $70. Don't get me wrong, I use a knock off too, but I know its limitations.

  • lucke1310

    So this is pretty much a simpler version of Torque, with a much more expensive dongle... pass. Torque does everything I need, plus gives me performance specs (0-60 time and HP)

  • mbcls

    always remember where I parked is nice! maybe I give it a try

    • AJ

      There are free apps on Google Play Store that do that.. (Agent, AutoLocation etc.)

      • mbcls

        but isnt these android apps require you to launch the app everytime you want to remember your gps location? this gadget remembers your location automatically.

        • Daikamar

          I know Auto Finder does not need to be launched in order to remember your location. It runs in the background as a service and detects that you were in a vehicle (or at least going driving speed) and when you've stopped and records your gps location.

          • mbcls

            Thank you Daikamar !
            i going to give this app a try before i wasted 100$ on this gadget.

  • WITTERU

    Android Police can we get you guys to review this product combo ASAP?

  • nicholb

    Been using it since the beta. Still fairly buggy, but they are actively working on it. I would say wait until they got to the 1.0 release before trying it.

  • Mikeb3ll

    Automatic helps decipher the "check engine"
    This is the bigger picture here as these units are usually $200+ but I would figure that this could at least be updated through the app.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

      There are numerous apps on the market for free and a normal OBD2 dongle is super cheap now. You don't need an expensive machine for that anymore.

      • Mikeb3ll

        Awesome, I did not know that!

    • Michael

      $15 OBD from Amazon/Newegg and a free app called Torque, or another free app called Dash (which is almost exactly like Automatic)

      • Mikeb3ll

        Awesome, I did not know that!

        Space cabbage.

  • Jaymoon

    After having used Automatic since the beta in December, I actually prefer it to the Dash/OBD2 combo. First off, hardware-wise, the "$15 OBD2 adapter" kills your battery if you leave it plugged in all the time and don't drive every day. Not so with the Automatic Link. I've never had to remove it, only time I did was to try out Dash. The "lack of color LEDs" on the Automatic Link is a BIG PLUS in my book. It's annoying to have red/green/yellow blinking lights out of the corner of your eye when you're trying to drive.

    As far as the software goes, the Automatic app is clean and easy to figure out. There are still features missing that the iOS version has had for ages, but the devs keep saying they are "coming soon." There are no social features of the Automatic app, in fact, even having multiple people who drive the same car (with different driving habits) is a challenge.

    The polish of Automatic is noticeable. Sound alerts when you speed or break too quick, dollar amounts of fuel used/wasted on a per-trip basis, and the "check engine" diagnostics are nice. Still not worth the $99 price tag, but hopefully that changes over time.

    • http://www.About.me/PHADE PHADE

      Since you have the Automatic device, do you know if it works with the Dash app?

    • KingofPing

      "First off, hardware-wise, the "$15 OBD2 adapter" kills your battery if you leave it plugged in all the time and don't drive every day"

      If you actually believe the OBD port could put out enough juice to drain your battery...you've been grossly mislead, you're selling something, or you've no real knowledge regarding OBD at all.

      The rest of your post i now highly suspect because of that.

      • Jaymoon

        Um, I had the ODB2 Bluetooth adapter plugged in for about a week straight. Drove to work every day, drove home every night. Didn't go anywhere on Saturday, and my car would not start on Sunday. The ODB2 adapter has that red light on always, even when the car is off. I'm no car expert, but that's draining power!

        • KingofPing

          Your battery was on it's last legs if that is the case.

          One led light draws less power than the power required to keep all of your vehicle's radio/clock/etc settings in memory.

          Of course it draws power...so does your radio. So does the ECU. Totally *not* enough to make a measurable difference in the life of a battery in good condition.

          • Jaymoon

            OK, well take it as anecdotal evidence then... But having the Automatic Link plugged in all day every day since December (minus the week of trying Dash), my car has never failed to start. Your guess is as good as mine.

          • KingofPing

            Heh...no guess needed. You replaced the battery after the last one died and your current one is in good shape. :)

            FWIW: Anecdotal evidence, even from multiple sources, is *not* data. Good thing to drill into your mind every chance you get when reading a lot of forums online. Seems as though some people will literally believe anything if it's repeated enough (not speaking of you, just the internet in general)...

          • BobD

            And if you want more anecdotal evidence, I've had the cheap OBD bluetooth adapters plugged in over a weekend without driving anywhere with absolutely no effect on the battery, as expected.

          • Djasonw

            I think the drain is very low. I have a Prius and the battery for the car is tiny (the size of a motorcycle battery). All this battery does is boot the computer. I didn't use the car for five days and it started right up with the cheap OBD connector. I bought the automatic OBD when it was $69 last year. The app is okay but the information I get from it is not worth the money. I just sold it on eBay and now I use torque (love it) and dash (needs some refinement).

        • NexusKoolaid

          Yeah it's draining power, but at a rate comparable to trying to drain your swimming pool with a bendie straw. I seriously doubt that your OBD adapter had anything to do with your dead battery.

      • Brendan Dillon

        So because his anecdotal experience differs from yours, the rest of his post is void? That's a blindingly ignorant conclusion to draw. For $100, I wouldn't buy this device, but the notifications definitely have some pretty clear advantages over what I've seen from Torque and Dash.

        • KingofPing

          "So because his anecdotal experience differs from yours, the rest of his post is void? That's a blindingly ignorant conclusion to draw."

          Nope. That's common sense. Maybe some small amount of knowledge regarding current, electricity, and power requirements.

          Carry on...

          • Brendan Dillon

            Being wrong about one thing doesn't invalidate the entirety of his post. If the whole post was built off that point it would, but it doesn't. That is poor logic and lazy thinking.

          • KingofPing

            "Being wrong about one thing doesn't invalidate the entirety of his post. "

            Cool. Did someone say it did?

            Oops...did that just invalidate the rest of your post? :-/

          • Brendan Dillon

            "Cool. Did someone say it did?"
            "The rest of your post i now highly suspect because of that."

            Yup. Lazy thinking.

          • KingofPing

            Ah. You must be illiterate. Gotcha. Sorry, man; Didn't realize....

            For future reference: "highly suspect" does not mean, "is invalid". There's a rather large difference between the two.

            Have a nice day.

          • Brendan Dillon

            Calling something "highly suspect" implies a lack of validity, then you pointedly ignored every other other point he made. hmmm, almost as if you considered them invalid... tsk, tsk... so lazy...

          • KingofPing

            So you're purposefully ignoring what the words actually mean in favor of your own personal agenda.

            I guess that's one way to go.

            Yeah, this couldn't be more pointless...

            Like I said; Have a nice day.

          • Brendan Dillon

            Either you don't understand what calling something "highly suspect" means or you're trying to dance your way out of saying something stupid. Such as asserting that being incorrect on one point makes another completely unrelated point "invalid" or "highly suspect".
            I'm going to go with the latter.

            I can tell from your repetition of "Have a nice day" that you're a "Have the last word" type, so I'll let you go ahead and do that now if that will help you feel better. Enjoy your dance.

          • KingofPing

            "you're a "Have the last word" type"

            Yeah. That'll get me to stop defending myself. Clever.

            *shakes head*

            It's amusing, really. You know there's not a chance in hell you're going to get me to agree with your misinterpretation of what I posted (there for anyone to read) and yet; after informing you time and time again what was meant, exactly, by what I said, you continue to claim it was something else entirely.

            ...over and over again.

            ..and then the "last word" bit. Always the go-to of the poor sap who just doesn't think he can support his own arguments any longer. (you must be *really* bored...) "hey, if I claim he's trying to get the last word, maybe he'll stop arguing...and I'll *win*! yay me!"

            But don't believe what the guy who posted it. No...I'm sure you know my own mind better than I.

            Have a day. (Nah, I'm kidding - I still hope you have a nice day.)

    • guest

      What kind of car do you have that you can see the ODB2 adapter when driving?

      • KingofPing

        Well, the cheap one I bought when I got Torque ages ago is a cable...it can pretty much be anywhere.

      • alexcue

        Not OP but I have a Honda Fit, which has the port down by the pedals, where the dash material ends. I've had two other vehicles with ports in a similar location.

      • http://www.deathbycone.com Jared Kotoff

        In my Ford Focus i can see the lights. I too find it annoying.

  • MichaelOberhausen

    Does anyone know if the tracking is being done by the ODBII dongle or the phone?

  • Dominic Scatto

    A good review of this vs others would be nice. For example, Automatic vs Torque vs Dash

  • Matthew Fry

    I friggin hate the Apple-spearheaded promo videos.

  • John O’Connor

    So, who does the app report the data back to?

  • h4rr4r

    Or you just use a cheap OBD2 to bluetooth device and Torque.
    $99 for an ELM-327 is a total ripoff.

  • NemaCystX

    Its stupid you can't use the bluetooth dongle you already have...

    those of you that paid only $10-15 for your adapters though will eventually realize that your bluetooth dongle doesn't have a high refresh rate to see real-time data like you can with the ObdLink dongles

    http://www.scantool.net/scan-tools/smart-phone/obdlink-mx.html

  • HeCareth

    Automatic basically does the same thing as Dash but using a more expensive OBD2 connector that is probably worth about $50.

    Automatic has a Crash alert service which is nice and Dash does not have this. In addition Automatics alerts are more of a nuisance than Dash as I have read from reviews.

    Dash has a cheap fuel finder which is nice, and also has integration with Google+ for all the gamification stuff. In addition to integration with Four Square so you can put more friendlier names to street addresses.

    The latest version of Dash now has detailed driving statistics like Torque which is great for those gear heads. In addition Dash can track multiple cars within one app.

    Anyway just my thoughts.

    • Stanley Lu

      So would you recommend using Dash or Torque? Dash says it is not supported in my country (Canada)....

  • Stanley Lu

    Does anyone know what to look for when searching for OBD2? I want to buy a cheap one off Amazon~ Not sure what to choose ...