According to recent federal statistics, by 2020, there will be 42 million self-employed individuals in the US. McKinsey estimates higher at ~68 million freelancers. This includes realtors and wedding planners but also on the rise are gig economies like driving for Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Scooter mechanics, and anyone who makes additional income on the side. Mileage logging is a big part of maximizing their returns but often monotonous. As a freelancer myself, I'm still frustrated to find the best solution. Here's the Price + Extra Labor comparison of why:
Having tried the best mobile app solution MileIQ (background GPS detection), I still find it annoying to have to constantly manage trips like:
- turn on/off during off-hours / vacation
- checking if app crashes - won't track if crashed
- swiping left/right to classify Work vs Other trips
- Joining Trips because it can't tell Trip Start/Stop when I was sitting in traffic
- Adding / Typing Business Purpose like meeting - IRS requires logs to include this
- drains the battery
- Miles are slightly off due to ~500 ft lag for Speed Estimation for auto detection
I gave up after a few weeks. So when the Echo Auto was released, I knew right away that using Voice would be a much better solution!
What it does
Trip Tracker with the Echo Auto sits in your car using your voice to track mileage when you need it through only a few commands to track all tax-deductible trip types like Business, Medical, Charity:
- "Start Work Trip for Meeting" - accurately activate logging + business purpose, simply Start another trip to Stop/Start in 1 command
- "Stop Trip" - using Directions API to calculate the miles from Origin and Stop Point
- "Round Trip" - Stop previous Trip + shortcut for Return Trip
For reports, user can check Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Summary and Email PDF / CSV for download.
How I built it
Learned how to request Precise Location Services permission. Used Mapbox Directions API to calculate miles, distance, and time. Request user Email to send report. Learned how to structure PDF and CSV files.
Challenges I ran into
Pricing the ISP Monthly Subscription had to take into consideration market analysis and Directions API pricing. To be competitive, must be less than MileIQ $5.99/month yet higher than what 3rd party charges for the Directions API. Currently, I've decided to use Mapbox because it's magnitudes lower than Google's Directions API even though it's slightly more accurate.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
emailing the PDF and CSV formatted reports!
What I learned
As it turns out, the Fire HD Tablet 10 is a killer device because it has both the Display + Geolocation. I believe it is the only device in the Alexa Family to have this distinction. I like the Visual Affirmation and now thinking about putting a Fire HD 8 in my car.
What's next for Trip Tracker
- Adding Metric units like Kilometers for international usage
- more maximizations like adding waypoints
- more visual response like Route on Map
- add Expenses like parking amount