driving Stories May 19, 2015

Automatic upgrades $100 Bluetooth car dongle, launches ‘app store for cars’

Automatic, a Bluetooth dongle that plugs into your car’s on-board diagnostic port to stream data to your iPhone, has been updated to a new version capable of streaming to two apps at the same time. The company has also launched an ‘app store for cars’ in the form of a webpage with download links to 22 apps that are compatible with the device.

We reviewed the original model back in 2013, when Zac Hall described it as smart, fun and interesting. At the time, it could only stream data to Automatic’s own companion app, but the latest version supports two simultaneous Bluetooth data streams, allowing both Automatic and a second app to receive data simultaneously.

Compatible apps include nine business-oriented apps, allowing things like automated mileage expense claims; convenience apps, like Nest, to pre-heat or cool your home while driving home; safety, like a driving coach to help new drivers; and performance, to provide real-time data to assist in car tuning.

The second-gen Automatic adapter also includes “built-in GPS, Made for iPhone (MFi) certification, and an improved connector to fit better in more cars” at the same $100 price.

driving Stories April 29, 2015

While self-driving cars may be the future of personal transportation, we’re still stuck driving the old-fashioned way for now, and a new iPhone game will show you why the future can’t come fast enough.

Watch the full video review now

driving Stories March 13, 2015

Smartwatches like the Apple Watch are worse for driver distraction than smartphones, shows UK safety tests

UK safety tests have shown that using a smartwatch while driving is more dangerous than using a smartphone, reports the Huffington Post.

The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in Wokingham, Berks showed that a driver reading a message on an Apple Watch would take 2.52 seconds to react to an emergency manoeuvre, whereas a driver talking to another passenger would react in 0.9 seconds. Reading on an Apple Watch was even found to be more distracting than using a handheld mobile (1.85 second delay).

While the piece refers to the Apple Watch, the TRL told me that the tests were conducted with an unspecified smartwatch, and was not a full-scale study, but earlier studies have shown that even talking with someone handsfree is more distracting that holding a conversation with someone in the car.

driving Stories November 24, 2014

 

carplay

Apple has responded to a University of Utah study which criticized the safety of using Siri while driving, stating that it didn’t test the company’s in-car versions, Siri Eyes Free and CarPlay.

Of the six speech-recognition systems tested by researchers, Siri was found to be the worst for driver distraction. The study hooked up drivers to heart-rate monitors and other equipment designed to measure the degree of stress experienced by drivers while carrying out a range of voice-command tasks, giving each system a distraction rating from 1 (best) to 5 (worst) …  expand full story

driving Stories October 7, 2014

With Pioneer now offering aftermarket CarPlay support through their existing NEX displays, I got the chance to finally test drive CarPlay (without having to buy a new car) and see how Apple’s driving-optimized iPhone experience performs on the road.

Apple describes CarPlay as “a smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car” because tasks like making phone calls, sending messages, finding directions, and playing music from your iPhone are completed using Siri and the car’s touch screen rather than fiddling with your phone in your hand.

In short, CarPlay has a lot of promise and already makes a few things easier, but it’s not without its hiccups just yet. I’ll share my hands-on experience with upgrading to CarPlay with an aftermarket Pioneer display including a few interesting tidbits and lots of photos below. expand full story

driving Stories September 3, 2014

The smart driving assistant Automatic is getting even more capable this morning with the roll out of a new dashboard interface made specifically for the web. You will probably recognize the interface (seen above) if you have used the Automatic app, which connects to a Bluetooth accessory in your car to give you data on driving efficiency and more.

The dashboard presents trip history mapped out alongside information including distance, miles-per-gallon, fuel cost, and duration just like the iPhone app. In addition to being able to access data captured by Automatic on the web for the first time, the new dashboard also features filtering and exporting capabilities. expand full story

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