* The box would fit right in next to the other items on a shelf at the Apple Store. Besides a magnetized cover and a sticker, the box includes a tiny “manual” under the Link, which basically tells you to get the (free) Automatic app before you plug it in. The app is well designed, with a lot of thought & care.
* The Link itself is also nicely built. It does not feel exquisitely made, like an iPhone 5S, but it doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall apart either.
- The app’s instructions say to plug the Link in very firmly. I did so, and even heard it beep, but the app wouldn’t connect to it the first time. I had to unplug it and plug it back in, again, very firmly. Then it connected.
- The first drive I took, it actually recorded the trip. It told me interesting things like, I was getting almost 11 MPG on my 0.5 mile test trip to the grocery store. It also told me I was very well behaved during my drive, which means I didn’t go above 70 MPH, didn’t slam on the brakes, and avoided stoplight races.
- Automatic’s app took a long time (at least 45 seconds) to actually record my car’s parked location. I’m using the very latest app (1.01), which is supposed to correct this problem, but it doesn’t for me. I don’t understand why it takes so long, when Apple Maps finds my same location in 5 seconds.
- The second drive I took, I tried not opening the app first. I found out at the end of my drive back home that the Automatic didn’t automatically connect, and so my trip wasn’t saved. Bummer. Looks like I’m going to have to open the app first every time I start the car, until this is fixed.
The really nice thing is Automatic’s customer service team is actually listening to all of our impressions and feedback, providing answers within 1-2 days, sometimes even directly from engineers who are working on the app. They really care about customer satisfaction, so I’m thinking this app is going to keep getting better.
Update: After 7+ years, Automatic has shut down in 2020. Another victim of the pandemic. I’m selling my Automatic Link if anyone wants to tinker with it. Feel free to contact me via this contact form, if you’re interested.