Automatic - Your Driving Wingman

Posted: March 31, 2013
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The Automatic smartphone app had me at "always remembers where you parked your car." That alone is going to save me at least 4 hours a week. Its suggestions on speed and braking adjustments to increase gas mileage, instant alert messages to 911 in the case of a crash, and evaluation of why my little bastard "Check Engine" light keeps coming on...icing on the cake, my friends.

Automatic technology achieves its wingman extraordinaire status with the Automatic Link, a plug-in for a vehicle's data port that syncs the latter's onboard computer with the user's smartphone GPS and data plan. Links are compatibile with nearly all gasoline-fueled cars sold in the US since 1996, as well as both iPhone and Android operating systems. The Automatic app displays:

  • Driving Feedback. Through visual and audio cues, Automatic lets drivers know when they're exhibiting gas-guzzling behaviors, such as rough braking, speeding, and rapid acceleration. Additionally, it issues an overall driving score every week, the improvement of which could save drivers hundreds of dollars on gas per year.
  • Crash Reporting. The Automatic Link's built-in accelerometer detects many types of accidents, and uses the phone's data connection to report them to 911, along with the driver's name, location, and vehicle description. Once emergency services respond, the app can text message designated contacts to let them know what happened and where the driver is at that point.
  • Engine WTFs. When the "Check Engine" light comes on, Automatic sends a push notification to the connected smartphone, and then retrieve's the vehicle's Engine Trouble Codes to help diagnose the issue. It lists Engine Trouble Code meanings, offers possible solutions and, for simple problems, assists drivers in clearing the light themselves. For problems requiring a mechanic Automatic pulls up a selection of well-reviewed auto shops nearby, accompanied by phone numbers and driving directions.
  • Parking Location. This is still the only feature that really matters to me. One time Cornelius and I had to have an attendant drive us around a parking garage for 30 minutes to find my car. I was sure someone had stolen it. I was like, "SOMEONE STOLE MY CAR!" And the attendant was like, "What kind of car is it?" And I was like, "A 1992 TOYOTA CAMRY!" And he was like, "Trust me, no one stole your car." And I was like, "SHUT UP! IT HAS FAUX COWHIDE SEATS!" But he was right. It wasn't stolen. It was just lost in the labyrinthine underworld of the mall. I bet people have died in that garage trying to find their cars.
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