Software developers and users are trying to get the most out of nearly every aspect of life with apps, so why not driving? The field of car-related apps is getting as much attention as anywhere else, and there are plenty of apps for the Android user on the go. Here are the best ones for getting the most out of your car and your next road trip.
GasBuddy: Why waste gas driving around looking for the cheapest place to fill up (a most Sisyphean task) when you can compare local stations’ prices? GasBuddy lists the prices and locations of gas stations within a 15-mile radius. Map View displays the options in relation to your current location. The only downside is the crowd-sourced database, which means the number of stations can vary depending on your area.
Gas Mileage Calculator: Exactly what it sounds like. Just enter the cost of each fill-up and this app figures out the mpg. It eliminates a bit of mental arithmetic, although dedicated hypermilers will be disappointed to know that this calculator doesn’t save results for future analysis.
Parkopedia: Parkopedia’s developers set themselves the modest task of logging every parking spot in the world. So far, it claims to list 20 million spaces in 25 countries, thanks to crowd sourcing. The app searches based on your current location or the address you want to reach. Parkopedia can then direct you to the spot, check for availability, and display information on rates and payment methods. It can also filter results for street parking, etc.
PlugShare: Electric vehicle charging stations can be hard to come by, and with most EVs’ limited range, that can be a problem. PlugShare includes a list of 13,000 charging stations in North America (like many apps listed here, it relies on user generated information), so it could be the perfect resource for EV drivers. In addition to finding chargers, it also allows users to check availability and filter results according to outlet type, price, and whether they are occupied.
Trapster: Knowing where radar gun-toting police officers are hiding could help one avoid many speeding tickets. Trapster claims to know the locations of 5.5 million speed traps worldwide, thanks to a network of 16.5 million users across the globe. It also allows users to rate the credibility of each others’ reports, to refine the results. Other features include local speed limit alerts and a speed limit/vehicle speed paired display.
Auto Log ($0.99): It’s easy to get preoccupied with the cost of fuel, but the (somewhat soul-crushing) fact is that cars come with a lot of other expenses. Auto Log allows users to track gas mileage as well as service costs. It’s a good way to figure out if you need a wheel alignment, or if your mechanic is fishing for work, without digging through receipts.
iExit ($0.99): Long drives mean pulling over in an unfamiliar community for a break, but no one wants to become the plot of a horror movie. This app lists upcoming exits and rest areas, with colored icons for services like the ones you see on road signs. You can filter results by category, so it’ll be easy to find the nearest McDonald’s.
RollMeOver ($1.99): It’s fairly obvious when your car isn’t on the straight and level, but what if you want to know how much it’s tipping? RollMeOver is an inclinometer that helps secure ultimate off-road bragging rights. With settings for pitch and roll, you can see how far your vehicle is tilting in any direction. Eleven customizable icons include classic off-roaders like the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota FJ40.
Car Locator ($3.99): Why remember where you parked when tech can do it for you? Car Locator can save your car’s location, and even “beam” it to other users through SMS. You can also create a “favorites” list to find that perfect parking spot a second time, or use the history feature to retrace your steps if you find yourself in a Hangover situation. If you’re really lost, it can also provide directions.
Torque Pro ($4.95): Torque Pro is a pocket data center for your car. It can record everything from 0 to 60 mph acceleration to CO2 emissions, as well as horsepower and torque. It can also diagnose problems through the car’s onboard diagnostic computer (OBD-II, although this requires a separate connector) and shut off annoying “check engine lights.” If you find yourself in over your head, it can also send OBD-II data via e-mail or create an Open Office document to show your mechanic.