“My system for staying young is to work a lot, to always have a project on the go.” ~ Carlos Fuentes
Before insurance companies started offering plug in cameras designed to improve your driving and lower your rates there was already an industry standard port. The ODB-II port is existing technology standard in most every car produced after 1996. Automatic uses this existing port, at first it would connect to a bluetooth device and was only good for reducing your gas waste habits. Hard stops and other things would be flagged and brought to your attention. The second iteration of Automatic Pro adds GPS to track your route if your smartphone is out of battery life. You will still need a smartphone and bluetooth to sync the data later.
The latest version is the third generation of Automatic Pro, which has been the one that made me interested in the app. It’s about $130 and it’s added the 3G network of cell service. A lot of the earlier features have been made obsolete with everyone carrying their smartphone with them. The new app works untethered to other devices. It doesn’t make a ping noise when you hard break, which can understandably become annoying. There is a completely separate app you can find in the Apple Store called Automatic Pro, for iOS 9 and later. It also runs on most Android devices too. The previous adapter is no longer for sale, but the app is free and there is a new adapter available if you want to go that route.
The adapter is more of a platform for storing and providing the driver with reports, but only through the web app. It does have perks like phone free tracking and it also continues the integration of different apps and services. There is a popular IFTTT site that brings all the services together into a harmonious sequence. In short, it’s these apps work best with a continuous data feed.
I feel like this product is still in Beta because it does have its perks and shortcomings. It’s not quite there yet, I would ideally like this to make my car an on the go hub for all my needs, although it does marry different apps that run your day-to-day like expense tracking and smart house appliances. It still feels like a very niche design. I think the higher end price of $130 is worth it, but there is an Automatic Lite which is easier to grasp at $80. At the higher end, you’re able to access all 3G network perks, but it’s understood that it’s not enough to justify the investment to some people.
Automatic acts like an API for the car. It has automated functions in a certain order, making a sequence of apps. It’s like a toolbox that makes your apps work together as one software application. It can also open the car’s computer data to analyze. It won’t let one change up the car settings or remotely turn the locks on and off, but it does access data that makes other functions run smoothly.
The basics will track the car’s location, mapping your route from start to finish. Hit ‘Trip Details’ on the screen to show statistics for a trip like estimates on gas and mpg. I find this useful especially since my car is my office, so this is perfect for creating estimates for travel expenses.
You can even log information for a specific gas stop, it’s kind of hiding under Health > Fill Ups > Add Fill Up, for more accurate calculation. It depends on your car and model, but less than 50% of cars can report gas-tank level through the ODB-II port.
This app works best for people who need hard estimates for travel costs, so you can confidently bill clients for your time to travel. It works best for professionals who travel by car often. For the everyday family, your Google Maps will probably work well enough. Like Google, Automatic Pro will also track your everyday work route, update you on traffic conditions, as well as weather.