TL;DR – I love the data the device provides but the experience so far, frustrating. 20% off link at the bottom of the post.
Disclaimer: This product reivew is on the first generation of the Automatic adapter. The current version on the market is the second generation.
Starting in late November of 2015, I installed the Automatic adapter in my F150. My initial experience was instantly frustrating. For some reason, I was having issues connecting to the device with my iPhone. As a side note, my phone always connected to the handsfree SYNC system. Additionally, there were times when trips would get recorded incorrectly or recorded at all. More below on my frustrations…
After getting through some of the connection issues I was finally able to start driving! Then, I could start getting some data. But where does the data go? What can I do with it? First of all, I create an IFTTT (If This Then That). Every time I go for a drive, a plethora of data is instantly saved into a Google Spreadsheet.
Here are all of the attributes that I’m collecting with every drive:
Additionally, Automatic does provide a decent dashboard and summary of data for you to use as part of your account. The main reason I have the IFTTT recipe is so I can do my own analytics with the data – more to come on those and maybe a few infographics. Regardless, if you’re trying to analyze your own driving habits, the phone application and website will be more than sufficient!
Time to dig in. Here’s my list of things that I like and dislike about the Automatic V1 adapter.
What I like:
- The adapter plugs directly into the car. It’s not an app that I need to start while driving. Like MapMyRide is for riding my bicycle
- With IFTTT, I’m able to create my own metrics and own my data. I don’t need to log into the Automatic website to view my data. Also, I can now use this data and convert it into information that I can take action on or publish out to you folks
- The data that’s gathered is more than enough! Also, if you vehicle throws an error code or check engine light, Automatic can help with that. This hasn’t happened yet so I can’t give you my full thoughts on it just yet
- The support from Automatic is hit or miss. However, when I’ve really needed it, they’ve pulled through. Recently, my V1 adapter broke. They worked with me and I was able to get a V2 at a discounted price! I’ll be posting a review of the V2 after I play around with it for a bit
What I don’t like:
- The adapter and phone don’t always pair. If my phone can connect to the handsfree system every time, I expect the same for this device
- I get dinged for driving over 70MPH. Last time I checked, there are states where it’s legal to drive over 70MPH
- The app is always running in the background on my iPhone. That means the little location icon is always present. I wish there was a setting for the app to switch it to “only use my location when using the app”
- I still don’t have a clear understanding of how the app is calculating gas prices. I’ll need to dig in on this one. Also, I’m not really using this data
Do you really need one of these devices? Absolutely not! This is a nice to have and interesting gadget if you want to monitor your vehicle metrics. Also, if you like looking at data, playing with Excel, then this might be for you!
If you want to get your own Automatic adapter, here’s a link to get 20% off ($99.95 retail)! Cheers!