The Automatic device itself is well designed, as is its app. Installation is a breeze. If you're obsessive about driving costs, this app gives you both the data and experience to adjust your behavior. If you tend to speed, slam on the brakes, or accelerate too much when starting, it'll tell you that too (after all, these behaviors reduce your gas mileage).
Even better, the app lets you monitor multiple cars you own (each must have its own Automatic device), but only the ones you actually drive in with your iPhone at hand. The requirement that the iPhone be in the car for it to be tracked means you can't use the device to spy on a spouse's or child's driving habits or track where they've gone. Right now, you can't have two people monitor the same car from their individual iPhones, but Automatic says it's working to allow that.
Simply put, it's a cool gadget.
It's clear that the company intends to make its money by selling ads to drivers, such as where to find gas or a mechanic. I hope it doesn't do what Waze did and litter the app with annoying interruptions -- it's off-putting in any scenario and dangerous while driving. But whether or not Automatic Labs finds a way to stay in business without annoying users, its concept is intriguing and its execution strong. I bet a lot of American techies will find an Automatic in their Christmas stockings this year.
The fact that it's also a good example of the Internet of things is just gravy.
This article, "Car trouble? There's an app for that," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.