We know you want to enjoy driving just as much as the next petrolhead, but sometimes there are things that get in your way. Congestion, idiot drivers, roadside emergencies – they all suck. But there are apps available to ease your drive. Consider these your personal driving assistants…
With just your smartphone, a windscreen mount, and the iOnRoad app, you can enjoy a safer journey while avoiding unexpected road hazards. The app uses your mobile device’s camera to monitor your distance from the vehicles ahead and alerts you if you get too close or if you begin to veer off the road. With both visual and audible alerts, it’s like having a copilot along for the ride. The free version comes with a limited number of car locator credits which help you find where you left your car using GPS and a snapped photograph of where you stopped.
The free JoyRide app only works properly when used with a Cobra JoyRide car charger for your Android phone. When you plug your mobile phone in the charger, the app instantly recognises that you’re ready to go for a drive and simplifies your phone. Instead of fumbling through several touchscreen menus to get to your favourite music or pull up the navigation screen, JoyRide lets you access the apps you need with the push of one big button right on the charger. You pick the apps and how you want to select them from the single button, and multitasking becomes that much simpler. Like iOnRoad, you also have a parked car locator to help with your failing memory.
There is no shortage of dash cam apps these days, and they’re great for recording driving footage without paying for an action camera. It’s up to you to choose the one that works best with your phone. TripREC, Daily Roads Voyager and AutoBoy Dash Cam are a few good ones that we know of.
Many dash cam apps come in both free and paid versions, and of course you will get the full benefits for shelling out a little cash. Basic features allow you to record full video, take time-lapse shots and store time and location info. These apps are useful in case you need evidence from an accident or if you just want to show off your driving skills.
Parking apps are growing in popularity as many parking authorities have been fitted with digital parking metres. You can use parking apps to shave time off your daily routine by finding a place to park and paying for your spot all from your mobile. These also come in handy when visiting an unfamiliar city. Car park managers like NCP (UK) often have their own apps to encourage drivers to use their spaces.
The NCP app includes a navigation feature, shows available parking areas near your location and helps you find your parked car. Search for the name of your local parking authority to see if an app exists in your area, too.
Companies like AAA (US) and RAC (UK) have helpful apps to keep their customers on the road and saving money. If you are a member of a roadside assistance club or your insurance provides this service, you should definitely take advantage of the free apps as part of your membership. You can use the app to plan your route, save money on your insurance, report an accident or get special discounts from their partners.
If you aren’t a member of a roadside assistance club or have that offered through your insurance provider, check out the Urgent.ly app. When you are in need of help, you can use the app to find the closest garage and order basic services like a tow truck, tyre change etc. Track the arrival of help on your map while you wait and only pay for the services you need. You will not be enrolled in any monthly service programme, and you are only charged once the service has been performed. Urgent.ly is now partnered with MapQuest, expanding its area to the entire US and soon to spread. Another app to check out is Honk, which has similar help features and low negotiated prices with roadside assistance companies.
Waze is a community-driven traffic and navigation app that allows users from all over the world to report traffic jams, accidents, police traps, road construction and anything else that threatens to slow down your drive. With input from thousands of drivers, the Waze maps are immediately updated when sudden changes happen to your route like road closures. Other benefits include updated local petrol prices and a feature to connect with mates on your Waze map.
For getting the most out of your vehicle’s performance and other cool apps check out our App Guide for Petrolheads. What’s your favourite car related mobile app?