Some of today’s vehicles come with their very own smartphone app, providing you with insight into the car’s health, fuel consumption, and more. But if you’ve got a car from a time passed, such as myself – I’ve got a 2003 VW GTI – you’ll be left guessing. Not anymore.
The Automatic is a Bluetooth dongle that plugs into your car’s Onboard Diagnostics Port, generally located next to or near the fuse box. According to automatic it works with cars since 1996, and connects to your smartphone (iPhone for now) using Bluetooth 4.0. Once connected and setup, you can track your trips, MPG, and even receive warning tones when you accelerate, speed, or brake too harshly. The latter features are designed to improve your fuel economy and in turn save you what the company says are hundreds of dollars a year. Which effectively means you can recoup the cost of the Automatic (it’s just $70) in probably a few months of use. Ah, no brainer, right?
The Automatic Link talks to your car’s onboard computer and uses your smartphone’s GPS and data plan to upgrade your car’s capabilities. It works with just about any car sold in the United States since 1996.
Using an accelerometer the Automatic can detect if you’ve been in a crash. If the scenario is such, it automatically sends a distress call to 911, and then texts your family members as to your whereabouts – just imagine a rescue team, complete with helicopter and sniffer dogs coming to your aid. Moreover, the Automatic app can share the location of your car after it’s been parked, so you or family member can track it down in a crowded parking garage or lot.
Installing the Automatic appears to be very simple as the app includes step-by-step instructions. Once installed, the Automatic uses your iPhone’s data connection and GPS, to determine its location as well as crunch some numbers. That said, the app uses as little as 5MB of data a month, so no need to worry if you’ve got a limited iPhone data plan, and there is no monthly fee – it’s a one time $70 charge. As of now, an Android app for Automatic is expected to arrive this fall. But keep in mind that you’ll need a Bluetooth 4.0 enabled phone, and there are only a few Androids with that version of Bluetooth.