The Delight of Unintended Use

One of the neat things about developing a product is seeing the way people actually use it – and now and then, we’re really surprised.

When we first developed our ‘Find My Car’ feature, the scenario that we had in mind was that of a city driver, parking a few blocks over from their home at night, and not necessarily remembering where they left their car by morning. But the way we’ve seen this feature being used has been fascinating.

Just last week, a San Francisco-based app user tweeted that the ‘Find My Car’ feature helped her to discover the location of her stolen car – and it’s not the first time we’ve heard that happen…

A number of weeks ago, another user came out in the morning, saw his car was gone and began calling towing companies. Once he determined that no one had his vehicle, he contacted the police and reported it stolen. Later that afternoon, he remembered about the Metronome and our ‘Find My Car’ feature and opened up his app. Lo and behold, he was able to see four trips taken to different chop shops around the city, plus the final resting place of his car, which unfortunately was now completely gutted. Still, he was grateful to recover his stolen vehicle so quickly and let us know as much. He also told us that his current insurer wanted screenshots of all the trips so they could use them for their investigation (he’s in California where our pay-per-mile insurance isn’t yet available).

It’s an important lesson for any designer – that there are always exceptions to the rule and how you intend for features to be used, and how they really are used in the end, may surprise you. As we continue to develop new features into the MetroMile app, be sure to keep us aware of the way that you make MetroMile work for you!

Top 5 Tips on Improving Your Fuel Economy

Our app is a great way to be more mindful of your gas consumption – from seeing the actual cost of each trip, through to seeing your fuel trends over time – but there are also plenty of other things you can do to help yourself get more bang for your buck at the pump. Below are our top 5 suggestions for improving your fuel economy out there on the road…

1 – Keep Your Windows Closed
Did you know that when you’re driving over 55 miles out on the highway, open windows can reduce your gas milage by as much as 10 percent? Neither did we. When in the free and clear, make sure to roll those suckers up, and when in stop-and-go traffic, do the opposite – open your windows and turn off the A/C.

2 – Drain that Nozzle
Don’t know about you, but when we’re done pumping gas, we often just pull the pump out directly after we hear that little click. But we’ve got it all wrong. Apparently, once the pump is off, the trick is to invert the nozzle 180 degrees while it’s still in your gas tank. There’s an extra 2 ounces or so in there that you already paid for, so make sure you get it!

3 – Start Hypermiling
Hypermiling is a method of increasing your MPG by changing the way you drive. Hypermiling includes strategies for keeping yourself moving during traffic, slowly accelerating after stops, utilizing your cruise control option and driving less aggressively, among other methods for optimizing your gas usage. For more specific tips, check out this CNN.com article to learn more.

4 – Find the Cheapest Gas Nearby
Driving a little out of your way to save a few pennies might seem silly, but over time, it adds up – especially for people who drive a lot. There are a variety of free apps to help you find the cheapest gas along your commonly traveled routes. GasBuddy and Gas Guru are a couple you might want to check out first.

5 – Check Your Tires’ Air Pressure Each Month
Air pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), and for every PSI lower than the recommended pressure of your tires, you lose 0.125% fuel efficiency. That is to say that if you’re tires are 8 PSI low, you could be losing up to 4% efficiency! 4% definitely adds up over time, so make sure to visit your local gas station and air up those bad boys at least once a month.