How do Automatic streaming apps work for the 2nd generation adapter?

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Posted 3 years ago

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Automatic streaming apps are a new class of integrations that stream data directly from your Automatic adapter rather than from the cloud. That means that you can use apps like DashCommand, OBD Fusion, and Harry’s LapTimer to read engine data in real time, with an ultra-fast refresh rate and without the delay of going up to our servers. This is made possible by some new hardware in the 2nd generation adapter, which is required to run them.

How Automatic streaming apps work
: You download compatible apps from the App Store or Google Play Store, which you can discover there or in Automatic’s App Gallery. In each partner app, there will be a flow for connecting an OBD device. Usually, the Automatic adapter will be one of several choices there. Before selecting Automatic, please ensure that the Automatic app is running and that you have run through the setup process (see this FAQ for more details). In the partner app, you will have to go through an authentication flow that will ask you to sign in to Automatic and give access to this app. After that first run through, you should be connected for future sessions. The Automatic app will always need to be running in the background for the partner app to work.

The technical details
: The 2nd generation adapter has Bluetooth 4.0 (aka Classic Bluetooth) versus Bluetooth Low Energy (which is what the 1st generation adapter uses). This allows us to keep our original connection to the core Automatic app while making a second virtual data channel available to a partner’s app. Keeping the connection to Automatic always alive is important for delivering the full Automatic experience. We are now able to give another app access without breaking that.

The access that a partner app gets is intentionally limited to protect you and your car. We’ve put a guardian layer between the partner apps and the actual car computer so they will not be able to over sample, which is a real risk with lower-end generic hardware.

More importantly (to protect your security), streaming apps require authentication like any other integration with Automatic. In the partners app, you’ll need to go through authentication to give that app access to your device. Thus, only apps that have been through our certification will be able to access the adapter. Additionally, apps cannot run without the Automatic app on your phone: this is because we require them to check in to make sure their access is still valid so we can police malevolent use of your data.

Important note: at this time, streaming apps are only compatible with Automatic on iOS. Support for streaming apps on Android is in the works but requires commitment from the 3rd party app developers to complete the integration. If you're interested in getting Automatic for OBD Fusion, DashCommand, or Harry's Laptimer on your Android phone, please reach out to them to let them know!
(Edited)

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