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Top Smart Phone Apps for Drivers

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There are so many smartphone applications, or “apps” for sale that just keeping up with them is a task on par with sweeping out the Augean Stables. For example Apple, maker of the popular iPhone, claims hundreds of thousands of programs are now available in their App Store. We checked out a trunk-full of the top car and travel apps currently for sale and came up with the following digital handful.

Siri

While Siri is but one of many mobile search apps on the market its ability to intelligently recognize voice commands is what sets the program apart. Simply speaking “best pizza near here,” will return you a list of top rated nearby pizza restaurants nearby. Say “Get me a taxi,” and Siri not only gets your present location from your phone’s geo-location services but allows you to book the taxi with one tap of a finger.

It’s a simple and powerful program that quickly becomes indispensable after just a few uses. In fact Apple liked the program so much that they bought the company in April of 2010. Siri is free, available on iPhone and you can get more information at http://siri.com/.

Txt’nDrive Light/Txt’nDrive Pro

Txt’nDrive Pro, and it’s free sibling Txt’nDrive Light, is a safe way to communicate via e-mail when driving. Once started, the app automatically checks your e-mail hands-free based on a time interval you select. When new e-mail arrives a computerized voice then speaks the text of the message aloud. If you have the Pro version you can reply by either issuing a voice command or tapping anywhere on the screen. The app then records your spoken message and sends recipients an e-mail with a link to an audio file of your e-mail that can be played in any standard web browser.

Txt’nDrive Light is free and Txt’nDrive Pro costs $9.99. Available on iPhone, Blackberry and coming to Android soon. More information can be found at http://www.textndrive.com/.

Trapster

Trapster allows you to safely stay abreast of approaching traffic events and road conditions while you drive. While this can, and often does, include places where members of the Law Enforcement community have set-up speed “traps” the program also reports on accidents, road hazards, toll booths, construction zones, and even areas with a large concentration of children.

The app works by encouraging users to enter the location and description of a particular item that might be of interest to fellow drivers. That information is then uploaded and eventually shared with other Trapster customers. As drivers approach an area where something has been reported, the app issues a warning in an often humorous voice or accent that you are able to select.

Trapster is free, available only on iPhone and, according to their website at http://trapster.com, legal in all 50 states, but the company suggests you check local laws before use.

GL1/GoLink

GL1/GoLink allows you to diagnose the meaning behind the often mysterious “Check Engine” light on your dash. This light can indicate problems from the mundane to the major and is actually an interface to the OBD II (On Board Diagnostics) computer that is required on all cars sold in the U.S.

When you see the Check Engine light it usually means the computer has already detected a malfunction and generated a code that helps a mechanic isolate it. Sounds great until you realize that if you are lacking a tool like GL1/GoLink many repair shops will charge around $50.00 just to tell you what the code means and that is above and beyond the cost to fix your car.

Fire up the GL1/GoLink, plug in the required cable, and the software displays both the error code and the meaning behind it. The interface is easy to navigate and the wealth of data it provides will pay for itself after just a few uses.

Available only on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, but coming soon to Android. Read more about the app, which sells for $99.82, at http://gopointtech.com/

RepairPal

With RepairPal it’s simple to get estimates on repairs and required maintenance for your car from the comfort and convenience of your smartphone. Just enter the model of your car, the type of service you are looking for, and the location you want the app to search. The program then provides you with a price range based on nearby independent mechanics and factory authorized shops or dealers. You can then e-mail the repair request and get a formal quote sent back to you.

RepairPal also has a convenient “Assistance” link that immediately dials a 24/7 Roadside Help number that can assist if you run into trouble on the road.

Unlike your next auto repair the app won’t cost you anything either. Available on iPhone and Android. Read more about the other features of RepairPal at http://repairpal.com/.

GasBook

GasBook allows you to quickly find the lowest price on gas. Whether you type in where you are, or allow the app to get your whereabouts from your smartphone’s geo-location service, you are presented with a list of nearby stations and the cost per gallon. Tap another button and the program will display all of the same stations on a map.

Other features include the capability to track your fuel purchases, miles per gallon, cost per mile, and the like. There are also customizations available like the ability to look only for specific brands or a certain fuel type like diesel.

Available only on iPhone, GasBook costs just $0.99 and you might make that back in just one fill-up. Their website is located at http://gasbook.posterous.com/.

MotionX GPS Drive

MotionX GPS Drive offers all of the functionality of a dedicated GPS device in a less expensive and more flexible package. The app offers all the right features including real-time turn-by-turn voice guidance, estimated arrival, and distance remaining to your destination. Live predictive traffic data is available which allows you to “see” traffic jams before you arrive. If you feel the need to stop along the way Points of Interest (POI) are provided and once you arrive at your destination MotionX also works just as well out of the car.

Available on iPhone, the app is a bargain with the basic version costing $0.99. To use all of the available features expect to spend another $2.99 per month or $24.99 a year. The company’s website is at: http://news.motionx.com/category/motionx-gps-drive/.

PocketDyno

You don’t have to be a fan of drag racing to enjoy the fun and fascinating PocketDyno. Using the iPhone’s built-in accelerometer, the app reports a pit full of performance stats. This includes your car’s time from 0 to 60 m.p.h., top speed and time through the 1/4 mile, as well as your reaction time “off the line.” The app can also estimate just how much rear wheel horsepower is at your disposal.

Working hard to serve up all of the correct Drag Strip metaphors PocketDyno displays simulated “Christmas tree” lights at the beginning of your run. When you’re finished, it even presents you with a simulated timing slip so you can share the details with friends.

Available on iPhone and iPod Touch, the app probably works best with an accompanying mix of early Beach Boys car songs and costs $12.99. You can read more about it at http://www.pocketdyno.com/

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Top Smart Phone Apps for Drivers - Autotrader