Automatic Just Made The Connected Car Really Compelling

The original pitch for Automatic was simple: plug this thing into the port underneath your dashboard and keep track of everything from fuel economy to fault codes. Now it’s out with a new device, developer tools, and an app store that lets you pre-heat your house, log lap times, and even send a Yo.

When Automatic introduced its OBDII dongle two years ago, it started with driver coaching and reading engine codes, but quickly evolved into a way to log trips, locate your car, keep tabs on your teen, and even get emergency assistance in a crash.


But for all those features relied on Automatic partnering with companies to bring new functionality and services to market. Now it’s opening things up to outside developers with the Automatic Developer Platform and launching the Automatic App Gallery so anyone can build apps that use data pulled from the diagnostic port.

The “gallery” launches today with over 20 compatible apps, and they span the spectrum from convenience to performance. Here’s the best we’ve seen so far:

  • Harry’s LapTimer combines throttle, brake, engine, and other data with the phone’s onboard accelerometer, GPS, and camera to generate an overlay of your track antics.
  • DashCommands lets you log everything from coolant temperature to fuel pressure to keep tabs on your car.
  • The Nest integration will recognize when you’re on your way home and heat or cool your house before you arrive.
  • RescueTime lets you keep logs on how much you’re driving to get a better handle on your daily commute.
  • Concur and Expensify take that to another level and lets you track work trips and mileage, then automatically submits fuel and car expenses.
  • UnMooch tracks a trip you took with your friends, splits the fuel bill, and then lets them pay you through Venmo.
  • Yo – which is apparently still a thing – automatically sends a message to your friends when you get to the party or when you leave.

Some of these apps will work with the original Automatic dongle, however, a new class of apps – like Harry’s LapTimer – require “Bluetooth streaming” to access data in real-time. And for that, you need to upgrade the hardware.


The new Automatic box looks the same and costs the same ($99), and we’ll be putting it through its paces to see if it’s worth the upgrade. In the meantime, check out all the details here and let’s figure out what kind of apps developers should be making.


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