Fuelly and Apps - An official update of what we have going on.
I wanted to post an update so everyone knows what we have been working on. A couple months ago we got started working on a new API for Fuelly. Our plan is to run our website and apps from this API and at some point open it up to partners as well. It will be the foundation for us to more rapidly iterate in the future. Users will be able to add many more data points to their fuel-ups like tire pressure, octane, fuel additives, location, altitude, etc. One of the more complex parts of this system will be a new way to organize vehicles in a more granular manner based on engine, transmissions, trim and other optional equipment. This will allow everyone to dig deeper when seeing how these items effect MPG.
We are planning to support more fuel types including electric and plugin hybrids.
We also plan to start adding other features related to the Total Cost of Ownership for your vehicles so you can truly understand what it cost to drive per mile (or kilometer). For example, it would be nice to add in maintenance records and their associated costs. Not only will maintenance costs help you understand the total cost of ownership but we can then link that to the reminder system so you know when it's time to change your oil, renew your inspection sticker, etc. We also plan to build tools so you can track your vehicles value and thus see how depreciation costs add to your Total Cost of Ownership.
We plan to build a feature where groups can put their cars together and see them next to each other. This would be a nice way for members of Forums to see their cars on one page and see where everyone stands.
We rolled out an update to the GasTracker+ app today with hopes of resolving the issues. Unfortunately we've already had one report of a major bug so we'll have to push out another update soon. That being said, we will be looking for iOS beta testers to help us do better testing on future releases. If you are an iPhone user and would like to help test future app releases please post here or send an email to support at fuelly.com.
GasTracker+ was an app developed by a 3rd party that worked off of scraping our regular website HTML pages. The app would scrape the pages and then parse the data and return the information via a native app interface. The problem was that small changes to the website would break the app. We are now powering part of the app via an API and the rest is still scraping. As soon as our new API is ready we plan to connect the app only to the API which will improve reliability.
GasTracker+ is just an intermediate solution (requires a data connection) until we can get our fully featured future version ready. The intent is to have an app that works offline so you can add fuel-ups even in the remotest places that will sync with Fuelly (cloud backup) when you have a data connection. In the near future we will be making an exciting announcement about our future iOS app plans.
We've ordered dozens of ODBII readers and are going to start testing them. We'll be looking for private beta testers to help us understand how more data can help the Fuelly community.
If you have any questions, ideas, concerns, etc please post them here.
We're looking forward to working with you all to make sure Fuelly meets your needs!
Yes, we plan to allow for temp tracking. Our current idea is to take the location between two fuel-ups and if they are from the same area then we would ping a weather API and grab the temps for that area and store them with the fuel-up. We'd need to know what time of day driving is done so we could use that in an algorithm to determine the average temp to use. Alternatively we can provide you with a suggestion based on the local weather data and you could edit as needed.
Keep the ideas flowing. Although we have been scouring past requests and had lots of lengthy discussions on many variables, I'm sure we missed many items. We're designing the system so it's easy to add new fields as needed.
I'm not sure if you've started thinking about what location information you want to store. As a foursquare user, I'd like to check-in to a gas station and use a Foursquare connected app to add the fill up information so that I don't have to remember to record the fill-up later.
(It'd be a fun project for a developer like me wanting to get a little experience using APIs.)
I am interested in this. "If you are an iPhone user and would like to help test future app releases please post here or send an email to support at fuelly.com."
I have a developer account with apple and currently test IOS7 beta 5. Which appearently this new update of your doesn't work with when trying to add a new fill up to my vehicle. It just shows a spinning wheel in the middle of the screen.
This is a major departure from Fuelly's mission going all the way back to the beginning. Adding maintenance costs is a welcome change, but fuel additives? Altitude? Ambient temperature? That is a new level of complexity that nobody will take full advantage of. Not only do 99%+ of people not care about recording any of these things, but those who do care about one don't care about some/all of the others. And this extreme level of detail will be useless without extreme attention to accuracy when logging data. For example, what is the prescribed method of reporting temperature for a gas tank that lasted for two weeks of driving, at varying times of day? Nobody will use such a feature and those who do will doubtless be recording incomplete data. It will end up being a garbage feature, full of bad data from everyone that records it.
Fuelly has always been an entry-level tool that car owners can use to learn more about their usage of gasoline and how much it costs them. There are plenty of other websites you can use to get the level of detail that you describe in your gas logs. We come here to get a simple, easy-to-use, and effective interface with basic analysis tools. I've been using Fuelly pretty much since the beginning, and I've appreciated the previous developers' vision for leaving out uselessly complex levels of detail, in order to keep the site simple to use and accessible for everybody. I for one hope it stays that way.
Also, color me crazy, but rankings? Has the site undergone a complete change of ownership? That is a complete reversal of Fuelly's stance since day 1.
I have to agree with BDC. The more complex the system, the less likely anyone will use it. I thought the addition of the city/country option was worthless, and disabled it. I don't use the fuel cost, because I cannot enter a total cost instead of unit cost. Maintenance costs will be worthless because there isn't likely to be a way to compare owner versus dealer maintenance, let alone dealer versus independent shop and warranty maintenance. Altitude? Temperature? Fuel (and presumably oil) additives? Dream on.
Matt and Paul no longer had time to continue to foster Fuelly so I adopted the project from them. In the last 9 months we've just been reading, monitoring, studying what's going on, noting feature requests and making a game plan on how to evolve to meet our users needs.
First and foremost I want everyone to understand that we understand that users need to have the simplest process in place for actually adding the fuel-up. As Charon pointed out, users should be able to simply add total price and gallons and not have to put in the per gallon price (which can be extracted from the other values). The best solution I have seen is GasCubby where you can choose the values you want to fill in and the other will be calculated and filled in automatically. I also like the way they have the decimal place already filled in so that makes entry just a tiny bit more streamlined. The fuel-up is the heart and soul of a fuel logging product and we understand this needs to be as simple and fast as possible.
We do plan to allow more optional inputs at fuel-ups but will design the system so you can quickly add the basic and move on without having to be burdened by adding other data if you don't want to. I'm envisioning a little + sign with the text "Additional Fuel-Up Options" that when click will expand and show more fields available should a user want to use them.
Also, to streamline things, we'll allow users to set their defaults on a per vehicle basis so if you always use a certain Octane you can set that once and each fill up will assume you used the Octane you specified but if you expand the "Additional Fuel-Up Options" section you could over ride that setting on a per fuel-up basis.
When it comes to temp tracking, that was actually suggested to me by the EPA. Some people don't know this but the EPA only tests 15% of vehicles and relies on the manufacturer to provide numbers for the 85% they don't test. As you all know, there have been some high profile over estimates and the EPA knows that feedback from vehicle owners is a great way to understand actual results (they offer a similar tool to Fuelly called My MPG).
It's my understanding that temp plays a big factor when electricity is introduced as a fuel source (ie. batteries don't perform as well when they are cold). So when it comes to temps, we'll probably allow users to set their vehicle's "home" location and then we can pull the temps for that location for all the days between the fill ups. We could have a vehicle profile field that helps understand when someone most commonly drives their car (times of day) and then can query against the weather data to determine the temp.
The idea with temps is not to provide data such as a Prius will get 48 MPG at 95 degrees but instead to try and identify some more major macro level differences like a Prius in North Dakota during winter will get 35% lower MPG then summer or even that a Prius in Arizona is getting better/worse MPG then those in Colorado. Once we get our future apps completed we'll be able to gather long/latt at the time of fuel-up and determine if you are at a gas station. If designed right, the system should know you are within a certain "normal" area for your home area or if you are on a road trip. Thus we can take this into account with features like temps and how to handle them.
We haven't solved the best way to handle most of this data and are planning to have discussions in the forums with you all as we work through them. We know everyone won't always agree but we plan to build the system so it's very easy to opt-out or into any features to make sure your experienced is what you want it to be.
Altitude would probably be handled in a similar format as temps where it's derived from the Google Elevation API. It's not intended to identify small changes but once their is enough data we MIGHT be able to see differences between vehicles at sea level and those that live at higher elevations.
I doubt we would have much data to discover anything interesting about fuel additives but members have mentioned wanting to be able to track when they add them. Who knows, maybe in a few years we would have enough data to run some calculations but our intent is to expand the system with optional fields should someone want to add that data.
As for rankings, that was the wrong word for me to use. We don't want to encourage people to compete and thus open the door for people to add false data just so they rank higher. The idea about Groupings is simply to have a page where people from a group can see their cars listed together. Fuelly is hugely popular with forum users so it would be great if the folks from TDI Club could all see their vehicles on the same page.
I just want to reiterate that we understand the fuel-up needs to be as easy to enter as possible. That some people want to track less data and some want to track more. We will make sure a users experience can be customized to fit their needs.
Temperatures may play a big role, but possibly not just in battery performance. In cold temperatures cabins are heated by waste engine heat, requiring only the extra power for blower motors. Electric cars do not have waste heat, so the heat has to come from the batteries.
In high temperatures the air conditioner compressor power has to come from somewhere. If electric, from either batteries or the alternator. This may preclude routine engine shutdown at traffic stops. Rest assured even the most dedicated among us are not likely to forgo creature comforts such as heating, air conditioning, and the Federally mandated windshield defrosting.
Great points about outside air temp and it's relationship to driver comfort and MPG. The crowd source data should provide some interesting insight years from now when there is enough info to look for trends or analyze a hypothesis.
The most basic use case for temp is that User X is in City Y (set by his profile info). He adds a fuel-up using his phone (app or mobile site with GPS enabled) and the long/latt of the fuel-up is added. From there we know if User X is near his town, City Y. On his next fuel-up we notice he's still near his town of City Y. We can now infer that User X probably consumed his gas in City Y and thus ping a weather API for the profile of temps in City Y for the time from Fuel-Up 1 and Fuel-Up 2. If the user tells us some information about when they drive then we can probably hone in on a way to get a temp. For example:
Early Morning = None
Morning = Commute to Work
Mid-Day = Drive to Lunch
Afternoon = Commute Back Home
Evening = Local Errands
Late Night = None
College Student (no morning classes):
Early Morning = None
Morning = None
Mid-Day = Drive to Lunch
Afternoon = Drive to School
Evening = Local Errands
Late Night = Out with friends
Early Morning = Local Errands
Morning = None
Mid-Day = Local Errands
Afternoon = None
Evening = Local Errands
Late Night = None
We have not discussed how to actually hone in on the right temp, only high level ideas technical requirements. So we are open to ideas and plan to have a discussion only on temps along with all the other data points. Fuelly has some amazing minds as members, if we are lucky, you all will speak up and help us mature the logic that supports our decisions.
As I mentioned, adding additional information would be optional and users could opt-out at any time. What, how and why certain data would be useful remains to be discussed and decided.