Automatic is a smart driving assistant that pairs with the Automatic app for iPhone in order to give you information about fuel economy, driving safety, and more. Simply plug the Automatic unit into your car, pair it with your iPhone, and start driving. It really is as simple as it sounds. But does it provide the information you want and need? Follow along to find out!
Setting up the Automatic system with your car couldn't be any easier. Just download the free companion app from the App Store and launch it. You'll be walked through plugging it in to connecting it to your iPhone via Bluetooth. Once you're connected, you're good to go.
One of the first things Automatic asks you to do is select contacts to use for their Crash Alert service. This feature uses the built-in accelerometer of the Automatic to detect several types of crashes. A dispatcher for Crash Alert then calls emergency services and reaches out to your contacts in the order you've chosen them. This feature alone will be worth it for a lot of people, especially parents with new teen drivers.
As for other features of Automatic, it can track your fuel economy and estimate not only what you're spending on a weekly basis, but on a trip by trip basis. It then tells you what you're getting miles per gallon wise based on how you're driving.
Automatic also gives you a driving score. Each week your score is based on an average of all your trips. Your score is dinged for things like going too fast (70 miles per hour and above), accelerating too quickly, and breaking too rapidly. One feature I don't care for when it comes to scoring is being dinged for going over 70. I know that within the city you don't need to be but we have a lot of highways around us where the speed limit is 70. If Automatic could detect highways and not ding you for actually going the speed limit, that'd be a welcome update.
Your trip log in the Automatic app tracks every trip, lets you name places you've been, and more. Once you've tagged places Automatic knows them later on and records them as such. I just wish you could expand trip maps to a larger view. As it currently sits, they're very hard to read since they're so small.
One of my favorite features of Automatic aside from the Crash Alert service is the ability to view check engine codes as well as clear the indicator. This can save you a trip to your local Auto Zone as well as give you some information on what you can expect when visiting your mechanic. You can even search for a nearby mechanic right within he check engine screen if you need to.
- Easy setup and install
- Crash Alert automatically dispatches emergency services if you get into an accident, and reaches out to your emergency contacts on your behalf
- Makes you more conscious of fuel economy, and can potentially cause you to save money
- Lets you check engine codes and clear the indicator on your own
- No way to export mileage logs which is incredibly disappointing — I'd really like to ditch using a separate app or paper log for this
- Can't expand trip log maps and they're incredibly tiny and hard to read
- The noise the Automatic makes when you do something it considers bad is incredibly startling — I've actually turned it off
- The 70 mph limit has no way of knowing when you're on a highway where the limit is 70
The bottom line
The Crash Alert feature alone makes Automatic worth the money in my opinion. Having the ability to keep tabs on driving habits is an added bonus. However, if you're looking to ditch mileage logs you'll unfortunately have to wait a bit longer as Automatic doesn't have an export feature just yet.
Even though I'd highly recommend Automatic already, there's still a lot of functionality I'd like to see make its way to the app such as exporting mileage logs and better map views for trips.
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iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.
Just my opinion.
If this thing could do the few things mentioned in the article in the future I will buy one for each car for sure! (I don't have onstar and don't plan on buying an onstar equipped vehicle anytime soon, or subscribing to the service if I did buy a vehicle so equipped) Sent from the iMore App
True, you can find some cheaper on amazon or on eBay, but the average Joe blow isn't going to think about wanting a code scanner until their check engine light comes on and they panic... Only to find they left their fuel filler cap off when fueling up last time. As the guy at the autozone reads the code and asks them to check their fuel cap, the guy will feel embarrassed, and while buying a replacement fuel cap may buy a code scanner to avoid the embarrassment next time. I've seen it happen. Sent from the iMore App
Now if this thing had gps and was accurate enough to handle it, an even more annoying buzz for being in the left lane going SLOWER than the speed limit would be priceless!!! Sent from the iMore App
The app should still determine score as it does, and ding me for driving over 70 (and ding me even more for over 80, etc), but I'd like to be able to adjust the speed of the audible tone rather than turn it off completely.
The mapping functions seem solid. The iBeacon and IFTTT functions have potential for the long term.
In short, Automatic is a nice idea waiting for a V. 2 software upgrade to really make it useful and cost-effective.
Does the same thing, save $20.