Trip Tracking and Expensing App for Connected Cars
Meet a Mojio Developer: Kathy Consigli of NextWave Mobile Apps
Mojio is building the world’s largest and most diverse open platform for connecting cars. For drivers, this equates to a vast, ever-improving app store for their vehicles. As impressive as all of this technology is, it’s the humans behind the tech that make it all happen. They are the people who take a great idea, translate it into thousands of lines of code, design the interface and connect it to your car through the Mojio device and platform. Here’s another one of those individuals: Kathy Consigli. Kathy was part of the Grand Prize Winning team from the Mojio & Windows Phone Developer Contest for their submission in the business app category.
Q1: What is the name of your app and the meaning behind it?
At NextWave, we have a company motto; we like to say that we build “Real Apps for Real Life”. Serious mobile apps are meant to solve real life problems, in the moment. If you have to go to a web site to use it, or find yourself using it after the fact, that’s just inconvenient data entry—nobody needs or wants to do that. So an app needs to solve a problem and get the job done, but it must be very easy to use. That’s the thinking behind our app. Easy Auto Log makes car expense tracking easy and as painless as possible.
Q2: What’s the problem that you and the NextWave Team are going to solve with the Easy Auto Log?
Whether you log automotive and trip expenses for company, tax, or personal reasons, it’s one of those truly annoying tasks that we’d all rather live without. Nowadays, most of us have our phones with us day and night, wherever we may be. In theory, we’re always ready and able to record expenses in a timely manner. Unfortunately, the reality of day-to-day life is not so simple.
We are all guilty of not keeping up with our records at one point or another. We end up frustrated and it costs us money. So why does this happen? Well, it’s often one of the following scenarios:
- We misplace or lose the car’s log book or whatever we’re using for documentation
- We put off making an entry until “later”, and then we forget to make it
- We spend a lot of time reconstructing expense documentation after the fact
- We lose fuel and repair receipts, we forget to log them, or the paper slips simply fade beyond recognition
The solution is to make the tracking process more natural, convenient, and better integrated with our lives by replacing the paper log book with Easy Auto Log on your smartphone.
With our Mojio integration, simply turning on the engine reminds you to start Easy Auto Log’s trip tracking. Mojio extends the depth and quality of vehicle information captured automatically in the app,
from odometer readings when you make a fuel stop to detailed engine diagnostics. The app tracks key information about how you use your vehicle: miles driven, trip purpose, duration, reimbursement rates, common stats such as average and highest speed, fuel costs, parking fees, tolls, repair expenses, and much more.
Our early development efforts focused only on issues and needs relating to logging vehicle use for expense and tax reporting. But, it quickly became obvious the app could be much more … a ‘Real App for Real Life’. For example, the enhanced functionality that Mojio’s open platform brings to the table adds value to new user groups, such monitoring student drivers’ driving behaviour and trip logs, and personal and business vehicle expense management. We have also added features that everyone should appreciate, such as being able to see exactly where the car is parked and how much time is left on the parking meter. Easy Auto Log truly connects the Connected Car to daily life!
Q3: How does your app work? What kind of data is it utilizing from the Mojio API?
Our original Easy Auto Log app was based primarily on the GPS tracking features found in smartphones. It would run in the background so you can continue to use your phone in any way or turn it off (not power it off) and trip tracking continues.
Mojio’s open platform and API take this functionality to a much more sophisticated level. Mojio events such as Ignition On/Off allow the application to offer reminders to start and stop Trips and Trip Legs—minimizing the likelihood you’ll forget to track the trip and lose the expense reimbursement. Tolls can also be defined by geofencing a specific toll area, for example, and will be tracked automatically.
Mojio’s diagnostic features make managing real life easier. Knowing the car’s fuel level and other vehicle information gives you a heads up about what’s needed before starting a trip.
Additionally, you can view a Trip as it tracks, whether you (and your phone) are in the car or not. This has practical applications for businesses and families monitoring individual drivers and vehicle use. You can view a driver’s trip in a Mojio car remotely from home or office—easing the worries of parents of a new driver using the family car, for example.
Q4: You are also offering an application called Easy Expense Tracker for Windows 8/10. Can you tell us more about this and how it integrates with Easy Auto Log?
It’s always important to use the right tool for the job, right? When designing apps, a fundamental consideration is which device format—PC, tablet, or phone—takes advantage of its tech strengths to help you do the job the best way possible.
Easy Auto Log captures driving expenses on your smartphone, and its companion app, Easy Receipt Log captures receipt images and details. Both apps feed directly into Easy Expense Tracker, which runs on a PC/tablet. Easy Expense Tracker makes it easy to add more trip details, analyze data, and run reports on consolidated expenses and other financial information. All of our apps sync across multiple devices seamlessly, automatically via WiFi or using cloud services such as OneDrive.
Easy Expense Tracker can display your past Trips and Trip legs on maps, your trip expenses with all other expenses, your receipts as saved images, and your vehicle data in easy-to-read graphs, grids, and charts. Trip information can come from many sources: actual receipts, credit card statements, vehicle logs, parking receipts, etc. Easy Expense Tracker brings them all together and reconciles the records, no matter where the information comes from. Mojio helps us fill in any blanks—the app compares what was tracked in Mojio and what was tracked on Easy Auto Log and Easy Receipt Log. Make adjustments, as required, and your records are complete.
Taking advantage of a PC’s power, we are adding what we call Radar. This screen visually displays any number of Mojio vehicles at the same time, on the same map, in real time. Tap any vehicle to see how far it is from any destination and the best route to get it there. This is great functionality for businesses, but also Mom or Dad wanting a heads up on their kid’s whereabouts, the vehicle’s health, or any trip-related events.
Q5: It’s 2015 and everyone is talking about the Connected Car. What role do you see mobile applications playing in its evolution?
Mobile applications are all about disruption. New technology is emerging everywhere, and the apps we use as part of our daily lives are actually bringing about societal change. Obviously, Connected Car will play a major role in our newly connected lives and companies like Mojio are making that happen more quickly and more effectively than many of us could have imagined.
At NextWave, we’ve been looking at how to use Connected Car technology with other disruptive systems, such as Uber. With Uber, Uber drivers need to have their mobile app open and running to record the actual trip and get paid, thus their phone essentially becomes a dedicated terminal. The phone is also used as their GPS beacons for both the client and driver. However, the addition of a connected OBD-II device like Mojio changes the game again. An Uber driver is no longer beholden to Uber-supplied data and features. This is very powerful, as Connected Cars could disrupt the existing paradigm by bringing new players into this space. Connected Car devices like Mojio’s, will drive new, unforeseen behaviour patterns, as developers leverage this available data into innovative app solutions for the real world.
Q6: When will the Mojio community be able to download the app?
Easy Auto Log will be updated with the Mojio integration in May of 2015 for Windows Phone users. Following the completion of that update, the NextWave team will begin to develop the app for Google Android and Apple iOS devices. For updates, please visit our Mojio compatible apps page.
We’d like to thank Kathy Consigli for taking time from her busy schedule to participate in our Meet a Mojio Developer interview series.
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