The race for aftermarket smarts in your car is heating up, and Automatic is delivering an always-on 3G data connection as its move to race ahead of the competition. The Automatic Pro dongle, which plugs into the OBD-II port used for diagnostics on any car made after 1996, now includes 3G data connectivity, with unlimited usage for the first five years in the price of the hardware.
Automatic Pro retails for $129.95, and includes a new companion app, which has customizable notifications that drivers can tweak based on their preference, alerting them to things like excess speed and too-sudden stops. The app also includes an integration with IFTTT, along with the laundry list of third-party integrations Automatic already offers. Automatic also provides in-app diagnostic of those nasty engine lights that appear on your dash, giving you actual details about your potential problems instead of just lighting up and requiring you to visit a mechanic to get further info.
Always-on cellular means your Automatic Pro hardware will be able to do all of its intelligent work even without an active data connection on your smartphone, and without taxing your data bandwidth caps. Building a persistent, free data connection into the hardware itself is something Amazon has done with its Kindle readers for years, and it definitely makes sense in this context, too, since drivers don’t want to have to worry about their connection status to get the convenience features Automatic offers.
Automatic was already a smart, inexpensive addition to any car, but this embedded data offering should help it do more with its various integrations and the IFTTT recipes it supports. Connecting older cars is a noteworthy goal, and building 3G right in eliminates one more potential complication, which is idea for tech like this that should just work in the background.