‘Automatic' smartphone app helps you become a smarter, cheaper driver

Plug it in, wait for the green light – and you're off!

It's the plug-in device you get when you buy the new smartphone app Automatic . It connects your car to your smartphone.

The app, which is being developed in San Francisco, knows when you're driving and tracks the way you drive, according to Automatic Chief Product Officer Ljuba Miljkovic.

The app "gives you a timeline of all of the trips you've ever taken and it gives you feedback about each one," Miljkovic said.

It gives you feedback about how fast you drove, how many miles you logged, where you went and what kind of mileage you got.

And, if you brake too hard or start too fast, the app beeps at you as a reminder that those kinds of activities use up more gas.

"Whenever you do any of those things, there's a little speaker in here that will actually play a little tone to make you aware that that's what's happening in the moment," Miljkovic said.

The makers of Automatic found that if you don't brake very hard, accelerate gently and stay under 70 miles per hour while driving, you can save up to 30 percent on gas.

If you're in an accident, Automatic will detect it and can even send a text message to your loved ones alerting them if you've been in an accident.

It can also "call for help in the event of a crash, and make sure that 9-11 gets to you," according to Miljkovic.

Finally, if your check engine light comes on, the reason for it will pop up on your phone, so you can tell if it's on because you left your gas cap loose – or because you need to take it to a mechanic for a more serious problem.

Then, if you tap a button on your phone, the check engine light on your dashboard will blink out.

And my favorite part of this app: If you forget where you parked, you're in luck, because the Automatic app won't.

Miljkovic said they sold out of the first production of Automatic in the first week it was available. You can preorder it now on their website for $69.95. It's a one-time cost for the plug-in. The app is free.

Do you use any useful apps on your smartphone? Let me know at joe@abc15.com or by going to my  "Let Joe Know" Facebook page.

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