I?m gonna rank these by their categories, and give you some examples of each.
And we?re not
covering music apps because, I betcha have that staked out already and telematics apps, like OnStar
since those are very specific to the car you own.
I put these at #5 because, lets face it most folks don?t give a rat?s ass how many G?s they?re pulling.
But If you do, these apps pair with an OBD-II dongle you plug into your car and merges the car?s data
with time and GPS location to unlock the unseen world of motoring.
We use one for some CNET On
Cars shoots that merges the data with the video out the windshield.
And even without a OBD-II dongle,
your phone?s built in accelerometer can do a lot to coach you to drive more efficiently, for example.
Others function as GPS speedometer/odometer and some even have a mode to become a sort of poor
This is the category for car geeks.
I rank these low-ish because I think most of us just buy gas where its handy as the light comes on.
if you?re the Ben Franklin type, these are great for finding cheap gas and tracking the real world fuel
economy your car is delivering.
Won?t you be surprised when its different from what the car?s computer
These are also great for quickly finding the nearest gas in a car without built in navigation.
One of the great driving frustrations of driving remains what to do with your car when you get there.
We still drive around and around the block in a combination of childlike faith and pagan ritual, hoping
to find a spot.
Parking apps can reveal municipal data on where spots are available in garages, as well
as any cost to use them?
...tap crowdsourced info about spots that people are leaving or spotting...
And don?t forget the ones
that let you actually pay for the spot and renew it without having to run back to the car with coins or a
Use one of these and rediscover your childhood some other way.
Navigation & Map apps
Being able to live search for what you need?tell the app to nav you to the result...or take you to
the address of what?s coming up in your calendar
...fold in live traffic conditions and best route info that includes crowdsourcing?
...or find a great scenic drive when you?re not in a hurry
..and run it all with voice command?
all done better on your $200 phone than car?s $2,000 nav
But not more safely, which we?ll tackle with #1...
Before I get to #1, I?ll tell you what it won?t be to some of your howls of objection: Speed apps.
they?re popular, calling out speed traps and even alcohol checkpoints.
But there is just something
unseemly about apps meant to circumvent enforcement of laws that work best because when you
don?t know where Smokey is.
Car Mode Apps
This is the one that turns your phone into less of a disaster waiting to happen.
The idea is putting car-relevant stuff on the screen behind big buttons...burying the 99% of your apps
you shouldn?t be using while driving
...and rolling in easy access to voice command
...with bonus points for those that also combine a slick HUD mode.
Customizable buttons help make it yours.
Combine it with a good windshield mount, not one of those flimsy ones you get for $7 at the car wash
store and you?ve got something great.