Ironically you can use your phone to make driving a lot less of a hassle.
Let’s face it, smartphones will stay on and used behind the wheel of the car as long as people keep dragging their smartphones into the bathroom to cruise Facebook with. That’s not to say that all in-car phone use is bad though, provided it involves the proper handsfree gadgetry. In fact it can even be good, especially when most car infotainment systems only serve to make adjusting settings behind the wheel even more dangerous than texting and driving. Thankfully these five apps exist to make life on the road easier.
Many states have laws dictating that police officers can only begin doling out tickets when a speeder is going 10 mph over the limit, which is why it’s no coincidence that you’ll find our cruise control set to 9 mph over the limit on road trips. However, some officers like to pull speeders over for a warning anyways, so we like to keep Waze running while driving between cities lest we run into trouble. The app has a community of over 50 million drivers around the world that report your local cop’s favorite hiding spot, red light cameras, and the like. It’s also pretty good for avoiding traffic if you, like us, prefer to take the long way around if it saves time and means we don’t idle in a traffic jam.
If you’re the type to change your own oil to save a few bucks and avoid the terror of having someone else tinker with your baby, then you’d probably want to look up Gas Buddy on the App Store (or App Market, whatever floats your boat). When running low on fuel, pull this helper up (when you’re safely on the side of the road, of course) and let it guide you to the closest station with the cheapest gas in your area. All you need to do is let the app find your location and plug that into its treasure trove of data to find the best gas prices in the area. Just make sure that whatever gas you do buy is rated as Top Tier detergent gasoline to avoid your thrift from becoming an externality that results in engine trouble.
Those who like (and can afford) to have the newest car on the block may notice that modern cars come with a suite of driver aids that owners of cars just a generation old can hardly believe are real. Everything from blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist to radar-based cruise control and driver fatigue sensors are being loaded into new cars, but this leaves those with cars just a few years old stranded. Thanks to iOnRoad, that doesn’t have to be the case. Okay so it won’t parallel park for you but the app can offer a collision warning, lane keep assist to keep you from departing a lane without knowing it, or a tailgate warning all while using nothing but your smartphone camera. And yes, it also doubles as a dash cam.
Those living in dense cities know the pain that is enduring soul-crushing traffic only to arrive to your destination a ball of stress and find that the single parking space that doesn’t cost a month’s rent is three miles away. Thankfully, automakers are already working on solutions to that problem since, after all, it is estimated that about 30 percent of city traffic consists of drivers who are circling in search of a parking spot. In the meantime, there is Spot Hero, an app that, like Gas Buddy, pools together a list of parking spots in your area and finds the best deal. Better still is the fact that the app allows you to reserve a spot before arrival, eliminating the need to race and snatch it up before it's gone.
We sometimes dream of a day when we finally have our 100-car garage. The only problem is that with so many cars in stock, it’s easy to lose track of all those keys (or even swaths of cars). That’s why we envision a world where our smartphones work as car keys that lessen the amount of junk in our pockets. We can already use phones to replace music devices, credit cards, tickets, car insurance cards, and the like, so why not have a fingerprint reader enabled car key? Thankfully some automakers already offer similar features with apps designed within the brand. If you have a compatible car, then the download button holds the key (pun intended) to interacting with your car by starting it and delivering crucial service bulletins to your phone.