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Automatic’s iOS app will now alert you when your car is low on fuel

There’s good news for iPhone owners that use Automatic Lab’s connected car gadget: Automatic Link will now detect when your car is low on fuel and send a reminder to your iPhone to top off the tank.

Link plugs into the on-board diagnostics (OBD) port on any car made after 1996. It connects to your phone with Bluetooth and uses the vehicle’s control access network to ferret out all kinds of interesting information, from acceleration and braking patterns to engine diagnostics. The new feature in Automatic’s redesigned iOS app will now measure fuel tank levels and show them on the phone screen. It will also calculate how many miles your tank has left in based on your driving habits.

Automatic Link installed
Source: Automatic Labs

The app will then send out alerts, which the driver can customize. For instance, some drivers might want to receive an alert when the tank is quarter full. Other more aggressive drive-on-empty car owners may choose only to get alerts when they have only 20 miles of fuel left.

There is however one big caveat. Not all cars report their fuel levels through their ODB ports. Automatic estimates that about half of the cars currently connected to Link will support the fuel-level tracking feature. You can find out which makes and models will work with that part of the app on Automatic’s site.


16 Responses to “Automatic’s iOS app will now alert you when your car is low on fuel”

  1. Still, if at some point it would have access to google now it could be interesting. It could send you a push notification when you are close to a cheap gas pump

    • Yep, I think you nailed the use case. …at projected usage and range, app says your cheapest option for gas is x. Possibly the user biases search by preferred gas station cards in his wallet. If they market it well, they emphasize customer savings, by being able to direct customers to cheaper gas stations that don’t have as much visual presence advertising on the interstate.

        • I think the point is, you still wouldn’t need to look. It’s a push rather than a poll. When your tank hit 1/4, the phone could just tell you cheapest gas price within range with voice navigation. The pricing disparity could be plenty of incentive for some. I think a key to making it useful though would be for the app to know how to narrow the search to projected direction. GPS is one thing, but tying into a navigated route would be another. I doubt Apple allows 3rd party app access to intended route, and hope Android does the same.

  2. Agree that the gas level is not very interesting. I think it would be far more interesting to report on many of the other information that is available through the ODB port regarding engine diagnostics, warnings, etc.

  3. At no point in the development of this “feature” did anyone question what the point if this was?

    Not to mention Gigaom’s excitement in this article. Really? This amounts to nothing but a free advertisement. This is why I have a hard time taking a lot of tech writing seriously. You guys either jockey to take some obscure subjective opinion on a device, or shamelessly sell out with faintly veiled PR.

  4. Nick A

    This is pathetic to brag about, let alone write a whole article about….it’s called looking at your gas gauge…why would you look at your iPhone when the assumption is you’re already in your car???

  5. So… looking at the gauge in the dash is so difficult and time consuming that we need an app for it? Is knowing the size of your tank so difficult? Is doing some simple math in your head to estimate how far you can go really that tough?