Automatic delays connected car platform until August as it seeks to perfect iPhone app

It's an age-old problem: do we clamor for a company to ship a product that's not ready, or do we swallow delays with grace as it aims to deliver when things are good and ready? Such a choice has to be made when it comes to Automatic, the California-based startup which had originally hoped to start shipping its automotive dongle + app platform at the end of this month. Those (including yours truly) who pre-ordered on day one received an email last night delivering the news that things were running a bit behind schedule. The hardware itself is actually already being manufactured, but stellar components are only a piece of the total puzzle. The software -- an iPhone app, in this instance -- still needs more time in the proverbial oven, and now we're being told that packages won't ship until "the end of August."

A three-month hiccup is nothing to scoff at, and Automatic seemingly knows it. In order to sate those who were hoping to use the $70 product during their upcoming summer road trips, the company is giving early pre-orderers the option to beta test the app as it stands today. For those who agree, they'll receive their hardware in mid-June, but they'll be forced to use it with a version of the app that "lacks a few features like Crash Alert and support for multiple cars and users." We'll be keeping a close eye as the situation develops, and will definitely endeavor to pass along a review just as soon as we're able. If you're curious, we've embedded the email in full just after the break.

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Two months ago, we announced our vision to improve peoples' relationship to their cars. Since then, we've been blown away by the excitement surrounding Automatic and by the volume of pre-orders.

Our small team has been working hard to build a seamless connected car experience that works on thousands of makes and models, and we've made tremendous progress. The good news is that the Link – that little device that plugs into your car – is ready and being manufactured! Unfortunately, we underestimated the time needed to complete the iPhone app and we're sorry to say that it won't be ready until the end of August.

When we realized we were going to have to push back the date, we started working on a way to get the core of Automatic's features to you sooner. So here's our plan: Because you pre-ordered early, we're making Automatic available to you as a private beta. If you sign up, you'll elect to receive your Link for use with a beta version of the app, which is stable but lacks a few features like Crash Alert and support for multiple cars and users. We'll gradually roll out Links to beta users starting in mid-June.

If you'd prefer to get your Link with the feature-complete version of the app in August, you don't need to do anything. Either way, you won't be charged until your Link ships.

We're truly sorry for the delay. Thank you for believing in our mission.

Growing Up Geek: Melissa Grey