App Gallery, Developer platform and 2nd Gen launch

Bringing the Car into the Future, Today

We founded Automatic on the belief that our cars weren’t living up to their potential. The way we see it, cars are very expensive computers on wheels. They’ve been like this for decades, and in that time the world of technology has transformed our lives, but not so much our cars. We hold the entire internet in our pockets now, so why is car ownership still stuck in the past?

Two years ago we introduced the Automatic adapter, a small device that plugs into just about any car built since 1996, and a mobile app that pairs with it to tackle some of the top needs of most drivers: decoding engine problems, helping you save money on gas, remembering where you parked, and even calling for help in a crash. The idea was to augment your car with your smartphone, and the response was amazing.

2nd Generation Automatic Adapter

Drivers took to Automatic right away: people wanted their car to be a part of making life easier. What excited us even more was the sheer number of other ways they wanted Automatic to help them in their driving lives. We heard from many people who hated the tedious process of manually logging business trips and then submitting them into expensing software to get reimbursements. We heard from parents who were anxious about their teens just starting to drive. And we also heard from gear-heads who wanted access to real-time streams of raw data about their cars’ performance.

The opportunities to improve the car ownership experience were so broad and deep that we knew not to try to tackle them all on our own. There’s one way to do it right, a way everyone’s already familiar with: an app store, but for your car. And that’s exactly what we’re introducing today.

The Automatic App Gallery

The Automatic App Gallery features over twenty 3rd party apps for every kind of driver. Whether you expense your mileage for work, geek out over your car’s performance and driving stats, or just want your car to connect to the rest of your digital life, there’s an app for you – all powered by Automatic.

Automatic App Gallery

The first time you use any of these apps, they’ll ask your permission to access data from your Automatic account. If you want to allow that, just log in with your username and password. You are in complete control of which apps get access to your driving data.

Great apps are the key to unlocking your car’s potential. With so many apps in the Automatic App Gallery, we believe every driver will find something interesting, useful, or just plain fun.

2nd Generation Car Adapter & Real-time Streaming Apps

Our most requested feature has been a way to see a car’s raw performance data in real-time. We heard this loud and clear and have been working on it for over a year. The solution was to allow drivers to grant 3rd party apps access to the stream of data coming from the Automatic car adapter.

Today, alongside all the other 3rd party apps, Automatic now supports three of the top real-time data apps for iPhone and iPad: DashCommand, Harry’s LapTimer, and OBD Fusion. (Android support coming soon.)

To do this we had to build a 2nd generation Automatic car adapter that supports dual Bluetooth data streams: one to the Automatic mobile app and one to a third-party app. This allows both apps to receive data from the adapter simultaneously over an encrypted Bluetooth connection.

The 2nd generation adapter also features built-in GPS, Made for iPhone (MFi) certification, and an improved connector to fit better in more cars.

Without question, what we’re most excited about from this new adapter is the streaming apps available today and all the new ones coming soon. You can find the new adapter online or in these retailers.

The Automatic Developer Platform

Of course, an app store also needs great developer tools. And we’ve got those too. Starting today, anyone can build apps on the Automatic Developer Platform. It features rich APIs that give you access to all kinds of driving data:

  • REST API for trip logs: mileage, routes, start/end location and times, and more
  • Webhooks and Websockets for driving events: ignition on/off, check engine light status, and real-time location updates
  • Data streaming SDK for iOS: get a real-time stream of speed, RPM, air intake, and data from many more sensors

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We’ve even got libraries and SDKs for iOS, Android, Ruby, node.js, PHP and others; rich documentation and sample apps; and a Developer Apps Manager, which lets you register new applications, get API keys, manage your developer account, and submit apps to production. We asked ourselves what a great API for a car would look like and built one that works for every car on the road today. Developers, start your engines!

The Future of the Connected Car is Apps

The Automatic mobile app is the foundation of a great connected car experience, with features that are useful to almost everyone. But the key to personalizing that experience is for developers to build a range of apps for every need and lifestyle. Today, we’re making that possible. Join us for the ride.

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Back to the Features: Fuel Grade Picker, Apple Watch Extension

We had a chance to show you the new trip details view and business trip tagging in our last post. Without further ado, let’s dig into fuel grade picker and the Apple Watch extension.

Fuel Grade Picker

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This has been a long time coming, requested since the very beginning of Automatic. One of our most automagic features—pulling your fuel cost basis from the time and location of fillup—is growing up. You’re now able to set the fuel grade your car uses to get more accurate cost calculations. We’re sorry it has taken so long and are thrilled to deliver this at long last.

When you change your Fuel Grade Automatic will start to calculate future trips with the appropriate rate. For cars that report fuel level, this will take effect after the next fillup. All of this sounding new? Check out how Automatic calculates the cost of your trips: http://bit.ly/1J7reMd

Apple Watch Extension

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Alright, Apple enthusiasts – we’ve got good news for you. Two of Automatic’s most popular features are now conveniently found on your wrist.

The business tagging feature on Apple Watch takes even more friction out of the expensing process. The IRS lets you deduct $0.57 per mile of business driving—if that wasn’t worth the effort before you should have no excuses now.

At the end of each trip, a prompt on the Watch will allow you to tag the trip as business. That’s it. As noted above, the tags on trips will be visible in the phone app, the APIs, and soon on the web dashboard. In time, we know that 3rd party apps that connect into Automatic will make use of these tags directly. We’ve come a long way since manual logbooks!

Secondly, Automatic marks your exact location every time you park. That’s nothing new (but it is one of our favorite features). Now that same parking map is even easier to get to: just lift your wrist. When looking for your car, just swipe up from the Watch face to see the map in the Automatic “glance”. Or enter the Automatic app on Apple Watch to get the same.

Now that you know what you’re working with…

We hope these tools help you drive off into the sunset. But make sure to drive back, because we aren’t done yet.

Automatic app features business trip tagging and interactive map

Back to the Features: Business Trip Tagging, New Trip Details View

With the latest release, we’ve put 4 new tools into the app. We briefly described those tools in our last blog post and today we’re highlighting the new trip details view, and business trip tagging. Hop in the passenger’s seat and let’s take a look.

New Trip Details View

new trip details map for automatic app, a new feature in iOS 2.7 and Android 1.7

With the new Trip Details View, you now have a full-screen view of your trip and a fully interactive trip map. Manipulate the maps rotation, zoom, and pinch to examine trips with as much visual granularity as you like. Individual waypoints are clickable in the map and you can get directions back to any of them! Check out our nifty gif above to see the interactive map in action.

The motivation to move to a full screen is to give those pixels more breathing room and make space for future refinements to trip details. As a tiny peek ahead, we used some of the extra space to fit in one new simple but useful data point: trip duration! See it in the leftmost position of the trip stats bar.

Business Trip Tagging

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You asked for it, you got it. Tag trips for business in trip details. You’ll have the option to be asked whether or not to tag after each trip (turn on in settings). To make full use of tagging, you need to be able to export those trips. That part of the experience in not ready just yet, but we wanted to get this part in your hands so that you could start tagging. Soon, tagged trips will be exportable from the web dashboard, and tags are already available in the API for developers looking to utilize this data. Combine Business Trip Tagging with Trip Details View and you’ve got a powerful transparency tool, and an easy way to expense those trip reports.

What’s next?

In our next post, we’ll check out the much anticipated fuel-grade picker, and the Apple Watch extension. Until then, let us know what you think of the new features!

 

new automatic app features fuel grade picker - business trip tagging - apple watch - interactive map

Back to the Features: What’s new in iOS 2.7, Android 1.7

For the past several app releases, we’ve been focused on making the core of Automatic more robust. This is critical for the app to work better for you and your car, but doesn’t make for flashy headlines. Thanks for bearing with us. In the meantime, we’ve been hearing many, excellent feature requests in our customer community. Recently, with the latest releases, we’ve been able to finally turn some attention back to delivering a few of those features. In short, we want you to know we’re listening and are at the beginning of an exciting roadmap for you. Let’s pop the hood and see what we’ve got.

A quick look at what we’ve added for iOS 2.7, Android 1.7:

New Trip Details View: Access interactive trip map in the new fullscreen trip details view.

Business Trip Tagging: Tag trips for business in trip details. Note: we’ve released this new in-app feature so that you can start tagging now – it will be available for export soon. See this discussion from our community for more details.

Fuel Grade Picker: Set the fuel type that you use for each car to get more accurate cost calculations.

Apple Watch Extension: Two of Automatic’s most popular features are now conveniently found on your wrist: business trip tagging and our car locator.

We’ll be highlighting these new tools over the next few days in a short series of blog posts.

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A look at the new fuel grade picker screen

 

What about down the road?

While we are excited to bring you these tools, there’s so much more we’re planning to do.

A quick tease: we’re working on a complete overhaul for the apps that will span new features, refreshed visual design, improved connectivity—and yes, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus resolutions.

We can’t wait to get this out for you to use, and it’s going to take most of our bandwidth until it’s done. Many of the improvements we’re most excited about are being made there instead of in the current app, which we think will be more useful for you in the long run. Meanwhile, we have a few more releases coming for the current app, so heads up you may not be seeing the feature you want for a little while.

We hope you enjoy this current release and thank you so much for being an Automatic user. We’re working hard to make it even better for you every day.

Introducing  Mileage Expensing with Concur and Automatic

Introducing Painless Mileage Expensing with Concur

For all you business travelers out there, our latest integration lets you easily expense your business mileage with Concur, right from your phone or desktop computer. No more logging miles by hand or estimating mileage. Automatic and Concur have joined forces to take care of that for you.

This new integration, built on our connected car platform, lets you send any trip captured with Automatic to your Concur account with one click.

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Setup is crazy simple

Just sign in to both your Automatic and Concur accounts to see all your trips. Each trip includes your mileage, a route map, start/end address, and even a visual receipt. Attach any trip you like to any expense report, and even create new ones on the fly.

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Efficient, accurate and accountable expensing

Business mileage expensing has always been a natural fit for Automatic. For people who drive for work, the worse part of expensing those trips is the manual estimation and entry. This integration gets rid of that step. And for employers equipping fleets Automatic and Concur, this integration ensures complete accuracy and accountability for every mile on each expense report submitted by their drivers.

One more app for your car

One app at a time, we’re moving forward in our mission to connect every car on the road to a wider world of apps and services. Concur joins Nest, Jawbone, and IFTTT, among others, as another app for your car available through Automatic.

Learn more about the Automatic integration with Concur

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5 Ways to Update Car Insurance for the Connected World

When I first moved to the U.S. six years ago as a grad student, I bought a 1998 Honda Accord. It had seen better days, but it was a great car. Unfortunately, I had a rude awakening when I tried to buy a car insurance policy: it would cost me an entire month’s salary to insure it for the year.

This made no sense. I had a decade of driving experience and a clean record. Shouldn’t my premium reflect that? I knew I was a good driver, but as a new driver to the U.S. I had no data to prove it.

Right around this time my co-founder Jerry and I were in grad school studying transportation and driving behavior. It was where we had the fundamental insight that inspired Automatic: cars are just big computers on wheels. If I could somehow access the data about my safe driving habits and show it to my insurance company, I bet I could get a premium that fit my actual risk profile.

 


It was where we had the fundamental insight that inspired Automatic: cars are just big computers on wheels.


 

At Automatic, we aren’t just unlocking the power of the data hidden in cars. We’re rethinking how cars can fit into our lives, including how we insure them. Today’s insurance policies need to change to take advantage of the connected car technology that’s coming. Here’s what we believe insurance for the connected world should look like:

1. Connected car insurance should be fair

Insurance companies evaluate a lot of risk factors in calculating your premium: how long you’ve had your license, your accident history, the kind of car you drive, and whether you live in a high or low crime neighborhood. But they don’t know how much you drive or how safe your driving habits are. They don’t know this because they’ve never had the technology to get that data—at least, until now.

Drivers also should get the discounts they deserve. There’s no reason a responsible driver should be forced to subsidize someone else’s bad behavior. As a lower risk to the insurance company, a safe driver should pay less for insurance than a risky one. It’s only fair.

2. Connected car insurance should be transparent

Transparency is the key to making sure drivers never feel spied on. This principle is why our teen driver program License+ isn’t a typical parent-spies-on-kid product, but one where both parent and teen are active participants. The same goes for insurance. Drivers should know exactly what information they’re sharing with their insurance company and what it’s being used for so they can make the conscious decision to opt in or out.

 3. Connected car insurance should be private and secure

Driving data is sensitive information and should never fall into unauthorized hands. The transfer of this data should be secure and encrypted end-to-end. This is one of the many reasons we build our own hardware. We also don’t share or sell our users’ private information, which you can learn more about in our Privacy Principles.

 4. Connected car insurance should be affordable and accessible

Drivers shouldn’t have to purchase a brand new phone or car. It shouldn’t cost drivers extra to demonstrate their safe driving habits—insurance companies should provide an easily affordable way for drivers to do this.

 5. Connected car insurance should be like the apps we use today: modern and beautiful

We all use technology products from Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter that delight us and make our lives better every day. The auto insurance experience should meet those same standards.

Insurance is at a turning point, with so much room for innovation and improvement. These five principles should guide anyone working in this industry. We have our own plans, of course, and can’t wait to show you what’s around the corner.

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Our Privacy Principles

The products we make require that we collect certain information from our users. We recognize the trust you place in us and don’t take it for granted.

We’ve always had a legal privacy policy that protects our users’ data, but because driving is such an important and personal part of people’s lives, we wanted to spell out our stance on privacy in plain English. Here are our four privacy principles:

our-privacy-principles-icon1Security is at our core.

We use industry-leading security practices like bank-level (128-bit AES) encryption on all data transmitted from the car adapter to your phone and up to the cloud so your information can’t be accessed maliciously. Ensuring your data is secure is one of the reasons we build our own hardware.

our-privacy-principles-icon2Your data is yours. Our job is to take care of it.

The data created when you drive is securely hosted on our servers and is yours to explore, download, and use however you like. We provide many ways for you to access your data, like our web dashboard and developer API. You can also stop using Automatic and ask us to permanently delete your data from our servers at any time.

our-privacy-principles-icon3You choose who else has access to your data.

You can grant access to your data to third party apps and services, like IFTTT or Nest. A simple dialog lets you know which data they’re requesting access to, and lets you decide whether to share it. We will never sell or share your personally identifiable information, like name, where you drive, or VIN. In the rare case of a request by law enforcement or government, we will pursue every avenue available to inform you and protect your data.

our-privacy-principles-icon4We anonymize data to create interesting insights.

We use aggregated, anonymized data to do research on driving patterns and vehicle performance, which we share on our blog. We may also create and sell industry reports, e.g. the most common engine problems for different car brands. These reports are based on aggregated and anonymized data—they will never contain any of your personally identifying information.

A data map only Bay Bridge drivers will appreciate

Hey Bay Bridge drivers, we were doing some digging through anonymized Automatic driving data and saw this nifty pattern.

Drivers speed towards the Bay Bridge toll booth and metering lights and then brake really hard once they get there. Then, they brake hard again once the lanes merge onto the bridge. We all do it, but it makes us wonder if it saves any time at all.

Hard accelerations@2xHard brakes@2x

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Our Favorite Things of the Internet – Gift Guide

The “Internet of Things,” otherwise known as all the doodads that you can now control via the web, has exploded in recent years. Once upon a time, you walked in your front door and had to wait 30 minutes while your furnace warmed up. Now your smart thermostat knows when you get home and has the house nice and toasty for you. And who would have thought five years ago you could wear a bracelet that would keep tabs on your body and let you know if you’re getting enough exercise? 

This holiday season, it seems like everyone is hoping for these connected devices to be left under their tree. Here at Automatic, we’re obviously nuts about the possibilities these devices have to make our lives easier, safer, and more productive. Being early adopters ourselves, we’ve polled our team and put together a list of things that we absolutely can’t live without. Herewith, our Top Internet of Things gifts, sure to delight anyone on your gift list.

  Nest Thermostat with Airwave

Nest Learning Thermostat

The granddaddy of the connected device trend, these sleek, smart thermostats learn how you like your house heated (or cooled) and adjust your settings automatically to maximize your comfort and minimize your utility bill. We love nothing more than coming home to a warm house on a cold winter day. Well, as cold as it gets in San Francisco, at least.

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Chamberlain MyQ

If you’re like us, you can never remember if you closed the garage door or left the lights on. Chamberlin MyQ is here to ease your forgetful mind. Check to see if your garage door is closed (and get notified if it opens) right from your smartphone. Better yet, you can close your garage door right from your phone without driving all the way back home. Rest easy knowing that your castle is safe.

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Jawbone UP 

You’ve probably noticed people wearing slick-looking, hard rubber bracelets around. Not only is the Jawbone UP a powerful fitness tracker, but it’s also a wearable accessory that you won’t look silly wearing. Set goals, track results, improve your health, and look good doing it. Jawbone UP will also connect with many other services, including your Automatic or Nest, to help further your fitness goals. We find that with these simple interventions, we begin to feel healthier and happier within a few days.

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August Smart Lock

Never fumble for your keys again with August’s Bluetooth-enabled smart lock. It knows when you’re arriving home and unlocks the door for you. You can also make sure that the door is locked or give others temporary access (like your dog walker) for a few hours a day, all from your smartphone. Don’t leave houseguests waiting on your doorstep while you deal with traffic or drop your groceries while you search for keys ever again.

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SmartThings

SmartThings is a connected device hub for your home. It lets you do simple things, like monitoring your home for unexpected movement or helping you find your keys; to very complicated things, like knowing whether your pet needs food or setting mood music and lighting when you arrive home. Being a little geeky ourselves, we’ve found myriad ways to make this work for our homes. The customizability of SmartThings makes it best for the slightly more advanced user, but the array of options are worth it.

 

And last, but certainly not least…

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Automatic

Obviously we think this is the bee’s knees. With Automatic, your cars are now connected to the web. Check engine light comes on? Automatic will tell you what’s going on and help you find someone to fix it. Forget where you parked? Automatic’s got that covered too. With countless safety features, including crash alerts that contact emergency services in an accident, Automatic helps you drive safer and smarter. Automatic will even let your Nest know when you’re heading home so that the house will be ready for you when you arrive.

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Introducing License+ for Parents and Teen Drivers

At Automatic, we believe driving smarter saves you time and money, and helps keep you safe. This has been especially true for newly licensed drivers. We also know the first six months after getting a license are the most difficult and risky of our driving lives. Several products on the market attempt to make driving safer for teens with real-time monitoring. But in our research, we found monitoring doesn’t quite work for parents who are already overwhelmed with too much data. And it doesn’t work for teens who do not like being spied on, but do want help being better drivers.

So today, we’re excited to announce License+, a free program that empowers new teen drivers to build good driving behaviors with the support of a coach, built right into the Automatic app for iPhone and Android.

To develop License+, we spoke with many parents and teens to better understand how we might make learning to drive a better, safer, and more effective experience. Our unique approach surfaced five core principles that helped us create an engaging program for both parent and teen.

The 5 Core Principles of License+

1. Teens need freedom to learn good driving habits on their own, but still benefit from the support of an experienced driver.

Drivers who sign up for License+ choose a trusted coach for 100 hours of independent driving, which can be completed in about six months. During that time, the coach can review progress with the driver and identify skills to focus on next.

Drive Score and License Plus progress in the Automatic iPhone app

2. There’s a difference between licensed drivers and good drivers.

The teens we spoke to wanted the chance to earn driving privileges as they get better. License+ rewards time spent practicing good driving skills with a set of collectible badges, so when you drive 10 miles safely at night with your coach, or go 50 miles with no hard brakes, you’ll have a badge to show for it. Badges also help parents see which driving skills their teen has mastered.

License Plus Badges

3. Teens can be good drivers, and want a way to prove it to parents and friends.

When we asked stay-at-home dad Jose how he reacts when his son makes a driving mistake, he told us, “I let him correct himself first to see if he notices what he did wrong.” With License+, Jose’s son can do just that. Automatic scores driving throughout License+ based on driving events like hard brakes and fast accelerations. That information is accessible to both the coach and new driver, but teens can share specific trips when they want to show off. And at the end of the 100 hours, the driver earns a bronze, silver, or gold medal based on their final drive score. The medal is a certification of good driving and stays with them as they use Automatic beyond License+.

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4. Open communication is more effective at improving driver safety than the threat of consequences.

A parent in California named Amanda told us, “Having a conversation is more important than punishment.” We agree. License+ was built to foster conversation and build trust between parents and teens. The coach’s web dashboard provides just the right amount of information so they can stay up-to-date without being overwhelmed, and the driver doesn’t feel spied on. A weekly activity summary is emailed to both driver and coach so they can review the driver’s progress together.

5. Parents want to keep their teens safe enough to succeed on their own.

Rachel, a mom in North Carolina, said, “I don’t want to be controlling. I want to see my son accomplish on his own.” Not only will License+ help him learn to be safe on his own, it also comes with tools to keep him safe beyond License+. Automatic remembers where you parked and helps decode the check engine light. For Android users, the Do Not Disturb feature automatically silences your phone while driving to prevent distractions. And in the event of a collision, one of our Crash Alert live agents will respond immediately, contact emergency services and parents, and stay on the line with the driver until help arrives. All these Automatic services are included with License+ for free.

Get help in a crash, decode the check engine light, and remember where you parked

License+ helps parents create a path to responsible driving, and it helps teens master good driving habits while earning the independence they yearn for. Becoming a good driver can be a great experience, one where teens seek advice from parents, brag about progress, and practice responsible decision-making. With License+, safe driving is something teens can be proud of.

Order Automatic now.

Download the free app from the App Store or Google Play Store, or check out our Community.