Automatic is a company that makes small plastic dongles that plug into your vehicle's OBDII port to analyze your driving style and efficiency in the cloud through an app and web interface. We reviewed the original Automatic some time ago. Based on Bertel's experience, I found the original product a bit impractical for one reason: Bluetooth. I don't like Bluetooth. Bluetooth is unreliable, slow, buggy, and finicky in general. The idea of having to sync vehicle data from a dongle over a Bluetooth connection had zero appeal to me - I wanted something that was utterly seamless. And now, Automatic has done just that with the new Automatic Pro.
Since its inception it seems that Inbox, by Google's Gmail team, has had the goal of streamlining your email experience in mind. To accomplish that goal, it makes every email a task, lets you quickly triage messages, and pulls out highlights like reservations, plane tickets, or attachments for faster access. But, according to the official Gmail blog, Inbox is getting one more cool feature starting now: the ability to automatically choose the best snooze date for your messages. For those unfamiliar, a "snoozed" message is temporarily dismissed, bubbling back up to your inbox at the selected date and time.
With this new feature, the app will take a look at certain types of emails to pull out the relevant date and provide a perfect time option in the snooze menu.
Automatic is an interesting hardware-software combo that makes information from your vehicle accessible on your phone via an SDK and a series of apps. It's an interesting idea (even if the nondescript name makes it nearly impossible to Google for), and thanks to a standard OBD-Bluetooth setup and a relatively decentralized structure, it doesn't require any subscription fees. You do have to buy the adaptor, of course, and it's relatively pricey at $99.95. But right now you can grab a 20% discount.
Automatic wants to make your drive smarter. Or it wants to make you a smarter driver. Or it's only for smart drivers. Moving on, the company that makes its own proprietary Bluetooth dongle to offer real-time feedback and log your trips has announced a new phase for its car-centric project—it's opening an app store.
The Automatic App Gallery is a place for developers to drop apps that integrate with the Automatic adapter. Right now there are over twenty apps available, including software from the likes of Expensify, IFTTT, Jawbone UP, Nest, and Pebble.
There's a great deal of convenience that comes with using Automatic, just so long as you're fine with beaming every trip you take up to the company's servers. The app can tell you what routes you've taken, where you're parked, how you dive, and what you need to work on in order to save gas. It's a nifty tool, and while there are some significantly more affordable alternatives such as Dash out there, Automatic is the best option for someone who doesn't want to deal with picking out their own OBD-II device or wrestling with a less polished interface. But to use it, you need an Automatic Link.
Automatic is a simple $100 diagnostic sensor that plugs into the data ports on almost all modern cars. What makes it different than the other OBD sensors you can get is the way it interacts with the Automatic app, which came to Android not long ago. However, today marks the v1.0 update for that app. You could say it's "done" now.
I love to drive. No, seriously. I'm someone who actually enjoyed commuting to work, back before I landed my first gig putting words on the web. I'll gladly run to the grocery store to knock a few items off our shopping list, then sometimes head back on the same day to pick up something we forgot. If a friend lives less than two hours away, then they're local. Let's hang out this weekend.
The thing is, all this driving burns through gas, which in turn burns through funds. As fun as it is to gun it when the traffic light turns green, coast in the left lane on the interstate, or brake as briefly and as rarely as possible, these actions all impact how much drivers have to spend down the line, both in fuel and maintenance.
The Automatic Link is the iPhone of OBD2 adapters. It's typically priced at $99.99, a price up to ten times higher than what competing hardware goes for on Amazon. What the product has that those alternatives don't, primarily, is a dedicated app that came to Android earlier this month. The gadget is currently available on Amazon for $79.99, 20% lower than its usual price.
People willing to experiment with other apps such as Torque or Dash can save themselves a few bucks by using any OBD2 adapter they wish, but others who would prefer a more plug-and-play experience may opt to pick up the Automatic Link.
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.
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.