Cars are great on their own, we’re not debating that. But with a little help from technology, your winter beater can turn into a more funky vehicle or you can simply make your life easier by knowing what’s wrong with your car, avoiding heavy traffic or simply finding a free parking spot.
So here they are, the apps we think every car person who owns a car (or not) should use:
Speedometer Speed Box (App Store)
Simply put, Speedometer Speed Box turns your iPhone or iPad into, well, a speedometer, odometer and compass. It can show speed in mph, km/h and knots and you can choose from three different speedometer designs. Plus, it works in both portrait and landscape mode. That’s what the free version of the app gets you; the Pro Pack unlocks 10 new skins, map view, speed limit warning and compass display.
Radarbot (App Store, Google Play)
Radarbot is marketed as the only app that mixes live alerts with accurate speed camera detection via GPS. It’s also legal and it uses sounds or vibrations to warn you of fixed speed cameras, mobile cameras (if they’re reported by users), tunnel cameras and traffic light cameras, as well as dangerous traffic zones. Not to mention the community behind the app amounts to 2 million drivers worldwide.
Car Camera DVR (App Store)
Standalone car DVR recorders tend to get expensive and with smartphones becoming more and more versatile (also, we all have one in our pocket), why not put them to good use? The Car Camera DVR app does just that. It can record high-definition videos (on iPhone 4S or newer devices) of your trips, audio and embedded data regarding time, location and speed. Supported resolutions: 640×480, 1280×720, 1920×1080, and up to 30 fps. Recordings can be stored within the app, but keep in mind that new videos override older ones to save device space.
GasBuddy (App Store, Google Play)
With GasBuddy you can save money and time thanks to a community of 70 million users. How? By simply letting you know when and where to buy cheap gas. You can also locate the lowest-price gas stations near you, filter results (by price, brand and other criteria – car wash, restaurant, and restrooms) and even improve your driving habits to save gas money (up to $340 every year, they say). The GasBuddy app also uses the phone’s motion detection sensor to detect the habits or events that normally mess up your car’s fuel efficiency.
FIXD (App Store, Google Play)
Have you ever had trouble with understanding what your mechanic says? Those days are over with FIXD, an app that translates your car’s issues into plain, understandable English. Furthermore, you can schedule car maintenance or oil changes reminders and the app will notify you using automatic alerts. Even more important, FIXD will tell you how bad a problem is and what might ensue if you decide to keep on driving.
PlugShare (App Store, Google Play)
Do you happen to own an electric car or a plug-in hybrid? Then PlugShare is a must. Essentially, the app grants you access to the world’s largest EV owner community and most comprehensive map of 140,000 public charging stations in Europe and North America, including Tesla’s Supercharger network, ChargePoint, Blink, Clever, Endesa, and Enel). It also features user reviews and photos of various charging stations, so all in all, you’re pretty much looking at a go-to trip planner for green car owners.
Parker (App Store, Google Play)
With Parker you can find free parking spot located within parking lots or garages via GPS. The user simply has to enter a destination in the app and follow the turn-by-turn instructions to available parking. The app also offers access to prices, payment options and parking schedule. There’s a drawback, though, as Parker is at the moment of writing available only in some places, like Los Angeles, Hollywood, Washington or Vancouver. To view the full list check out the app’s official pages provided by the links above.
Find My Car (App Store)
Well, the name is self-explanatory and the app pretty much works like the Find My iPhone utility. It uses GPS to locate your car based on a previously saved position. After you’ve finished shopping, for example, all you need to do is open the app and it will give you the last saved position of your car. It also displays real-time distance to your car as well as the best walking direction, according to the environment. Find My Car also needs an active internet connection to retrieve data.
EOBD Facile (App Store, Google Play)
EOBD Facile lets you make a full diagnose of your car using your smartphone or tablet. First, you’ll have to connect an ELM327 device to the OBD2 port in your car before running the application. From this point on, you can get engine and gearbox fault codes (the so-called DTCs) and what they actually mean, plus specific manufacturer error codes for BMW, Ford, Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda and other makes. Additional measurements it gives are related to car speed, engine speed, spark timing, inlet air quantity, and torque.
Total Car Check (App Store, Google Play)
Total Car Check comes in two flavors: free and with in-app purchases. The free version can check if a vehicle is stolen and provide full MOT and mileage history as well as road tax expiry and registration dates, among other stuff. All the user has to do is enter that car’s registration number into the app and it will display various info. Moreover, by making in-app purchases you can find out the car’s previous number plates, previous owners, engine number, and insurance details.
HUD Widgets (App Store, Google Play)
Dubbed as a non-distractive form of driver assist, HUD Widgets essentially diplays various info in the form of widgets that cover speedometers, trip info, weather and eco-driving data straight to your phone, which turns into a sort of head-up display. The best part is you can have the info projected straight onto the windshield (only works on a clear day with the proper screen brightness and you’ll also have to get the HUD Glass accessory) or on your phone’s screen, which in this case becomes similar to an infotainment display.
Speed Tracker (App Store, Google Play)
Speed Tracker isn’t just limited to what its name says it does. In fact, it acts as a trip computer that comes in handy if you own an older model. This way, you can get info on average speed, distance covered, route time and stopped time. Best thing about it? It’s not even strictly dedicated to car use. You can have a go at it even when you’re biking or traveling by plane or train.