Automatic, the smart driving assistant that combines a small hardware device that plugs in your car and a mobile app that provides drivers with data about their vehicle and their driving habits, is now available on Android. Previously an iOS-only application, this release also delivers a couple of new features as well, including an Android-exclusive “do not disturb” mode and a Crash Alert functionality.
The Crash Alert feature, which is currently in beta, is arriving on both iOS and Android for testing purposes. The idea is to offer the conveniences that an integrated system like OnStar would provide in terms of emergency assistance, but bundled into a mobile application instead. With Crash Alert enabled, Automatic will be able to detect if you’ve been in a serious crash and will notify the local authorities with your location even if you can’t.
In addition, someone from Automatic will also reach out to your family and other loved ones on your behalf to let them know what has happened, and that emergency responders are on their way.
The company says that this focus on safety came to the forefront of the team’s mind when they began working on the Android release, which is what also prompted them to introduce the feature that will silence the phone while driving, so users are not bothered by rings or incoming texts. Rather, the app integrates deeply into the Android operating system in order to auto-replies to rings, texting callers back with an automated message that tells them you’re currently driving.
The problem of distracted driving is a tough one to solve, as people are somehow unable to put these addictive devices down and focus on the task at hand. Automatic notes that there are 1.6 million accidents per year caused by texting while driving, and 78% of teens says they have read a text while on the road. Part of people’s problem with texting is not only our innate curiosity about who’s texting us – a desire we seemingly have to satisfy in real-time – but also this sense of obligation where we feel we have to respond promptly to the incoming message.
Automatic’s ability to text for you, without you having to touch the phone yourself, is especially helpful in that regard.
Other services have also attempted to address this problem in similar ways over the years, including things like Sonalight, Drive Safe.ly, txtBlocker, Textecution, AT&T’s DriveMode, DriveOFF, and many others. But there’s something that, unfortunately, still feels cumbersome and even ‘uncool’ (well, to teens) about apps that are all about safety. With Automatic, these protections are part of a larger suite of features, which help to draw users into the platform.
The Android app is here on Google Play. The app itself is free, but as with its iOS counterpart, it works in conjunction with a hardware accessory which plugs into your car’s data port. This is a one-time fee of $99.95. There are no ongoing subscription fees, however.
Automatic says it has grown five times since its launch last March, but the company won’t share user numbers or revenue details at this time.