Automatic also offers other features and potential benefits, such as the ability to flag engine trouble and then notify you. However, the four points mentioned above are my favorite things about the gadget. Unfortunately, I did find a few reasons not to buy an Automatic.
4 reasons to hit the brakes before you buy Automatic
1. Automatic's rivals
Automatic has competition from Zubie ($100) and Vinli ($149), among others. (Note: I haven't tested Automatic's competitors and can't comment on them.)
2. Automatic takes over your diagnostics port
I've been considering Metromile, a pay-per-mile car insurance provider, which requires the installation of its connected car device in your vehicle diagnostics port. Unfortunately, you can't simultaneously use both devices. (By the way, Metromile's device (free for customers) offers some interesting features, such as automated alerts that tell you when you're parked in a street sweeping zone in Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles.)
3. Automatic a no-go for electric cars
If you drive an electric vehicle, you're out of luck; Automatic doesn't work with them.
4. Concerns about Automatic tracking features
Some people just aren't comfortable with idea that they're driving locations are recorded and stored in the cloud. However, Automatic promises its user data is protected by 128-bit "bank-level" AES encryption.
Bottom line on Automatic's connected car dongle and mobile apps
Automatic's app is intuitive and nicely designed. And the dongle device works as promised, at least during my week of tests. If you want to turn your older car into a "smart" car, it's a good, and relatively affordable, start.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.