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Trapster app steers you clear of speed traps

Tired of getting nabbed for doing 4 mph over the speed limit? This free and newly feature-packed app turns your iPhone into the modern equivalent of a radar detector.

Trapster alerts you to nearby speed cameras and "Smokey takin' pictures."

It's been nearly a year since the debut of Trapster, a controversial but popular app that alerts you of nearby speed traps, cameras, and the like.

Version 3.5 just hit the App Store, bringing with it some impressive--and, for many users, long-awaited--new features. Here's the rundown:

  • Improved interface Five features (some of them new) are now accessible by tapping blue icons that span the right side of the screen.
  • Bluetooth audio If your car supports Bluetooth, you can pair Trapster to your stereo to get audio alerts over your speakers. Even better, if your car supports A2DP (i.e. stereo Bluetooth), you can take advantage of:
  • Built-in iPod controls Tap the little musical-note icon to slide open Trapster's iPod audio controls. Obviously, you don't need stereo Bluetooth to use them, but it sure is a nice combo.
  • Rotating maps Trapster tacks your position in real-time on a moving map. Now, that map can rotate depending on your direction of travel rather than staying in "always-North" mode. The top blue icon toggles this feature on and off.
  • Real-time traffic The bottom blue icon slides out a Google Traffic map, which shows you trouble spots in your area. Handy, but it's too bad the developers couldn't integrate this with the main map instead of requiring you to view a second one.

As before, Trapster lets you report your own speed traps, cameras, and checkpoints with just a few taps, but in version 3.5 these "trap" buttons are larger and easier to read--while driving.

And that brings us to Trapster's controversial nature. It's not only dangerous to fiddle with an app like this while driving, but it effectively encourages drivers to break speed-limit laws--thereby endangering others.

It's just my two cents, but those laws are there for a reason, and if you get caught breaking them, you should take your medicine. (Before you shout me down in the comments, remember: This is a blog post, not a news story. I'm allowed to express an opinion. :)

Of course, one could argue that knowledge of speed-trap locations might actually lead to slower, safer driving. Hmmm.

As a fellow resident of the road, all I ask is that you drive sensibly and wait till you hit a red light before interacting with the app. I'll return the favor.

OK, end of sermon. Trapster is a well-designed app with an impressive range of features, including some nifty trip-planning stuff and optional push notifications of new traps. Most amazing of all, it's still free.