You certainly shouldn’t ever use your phone to text while you’re driving, and making calls is possible with Bluetooth but risky. However, there’s no reason to turn off your Smartphone all the way while you’re driving. USA Today reports on a few apps that make using a Smartphone in the car practical. Our computer repair Nerds checked them out so they could give you the scoop on Smartphone driving apps.
All Inclusive: The first and one of the most full-featured is Waze. Waze has been making big ripples on the grid for a while now, even being featured in the recent Facebook Home launch. The app allows you to connect with other drivers sharing the same stretch of roads as you, while simultaneously being an excellent navigation tool, complete with maps. But the coolest feature is the ability to get exclusive traffic reports created by other Waze users. If another Waze user (or Wazer) sees a road hazard, police officer, or other relevant information, they can report it to the service and others in the area can take heed. The app also allows chatting between users, although you’d better let the person in the passenger seat take care of that responsibility! It’s available for free for iPhone and Android
City Minded: The next app is a bit more city-driving-focused. It’s called ParkMe, and it does what its name promises. It will find you the closest and cheapest parking in the area, and shows you what’s available right now. The prices will appear on a map and you can choose to navigate to the best one for you. It’s free for both Android and iPhone
And if you have an iPhone and park in metered areas more often, Honk will allow you to check time remaining on your meter and provide directions back to your car when the time is up.
Performance in Mind: All of these apps are great and can enhance your driving experience. But there’s one more that blows the rest of the apps out of the water. We didn’t include it at the top since there’s a bit of a price attached: $69.95. It’s called Automatic, and the price is actually for a hardware dongle that connects to your car’s computer. It will work with just about any car sold in the US since 1996, but it upgrades it to a luxury car. Not only does it have a GPS app built in, but the link hardware lets you know how to drive better. It tells you when you brake roughly, speed, or accelerate too rapidly. Tweaking your driving can take hundreds off your gas bill. On top of that, it will call 911 if you’re in a crash, saving precious time or possibly saving your life. And when that “check engine” light comes on, it will report what the status code means and tell you exactly how to fix it. If you can’t fix it yourself, it will also locate nearby mechanics. If the problem is just the check engine light, you can turn off the light within the app. On top of all this, it automatically detects where you parked and can guide you back. If you share a car with someone, both of you can put the app on your phone and can coordinate car sharing from within it.
About The Author: Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.