“This week,” that headline should also say, but that gets too clumsy. We’re dependent on our smartphones for everyday tasks more than ever—and for tasks that didn’t even exist only a year or three ago. And the apps that make the smartphone smart are constantly changing, being upgraded or created new from whole cloth. Electrons. Whatever.
There are a handful of really good racing games, either free or price-of-small-coffee cheap (and we include some), but we were looking for a good group of productive apps that increase peace of mind (parking), provide usable information (mileage calcs) and so on. After a long research stint, here are our picks for the 10 best auto apps. This week.
OnStar Mobile for Chevrolet Volt App (iPhone, Android, Blackberry): The Chevrolet Volt is the North American Car of the Year in part because of the extraordinary high technology at its core. Chevy and OnStar have announced a smartphone app that taps into that ethic. The app promises to show current state of charge, total range, start/end charge and more. It requires an OnStar subscription, so you can also remote start, lock/unlock doors and more. Cost: TBD
myPark Pro (iPhone): We always know where our cars are parked, but everybody isn’t us. myPark Pro uses the iPhone’s canny GPS capability to pin your parking spot to its map, and it also permits you to take a phone photo or type a note to further cement the location in memory. When you’re ready to return to your vehicle, punch up the “Go Back” button and start walking. Fulfills the two primary requirements of most good things: Cheap and effective. Cost: $0.99
Trapster (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Other): Almost 10.4 million users have the Trapster speed trap alert app deployed, making for millions of real-time user reports on speed trap locations, including photo radar. See and communicate with other users in real time, watch the app draw blue lines on your map depicting routes recently run by other users and ping Facebook and Twitter. Think of it as a social-media early warning system. Cost: Free
gMeter (iPhone): Show me the digits, man. The gMeter used to be the size of a summer blockbuster beach book and, as I recall, was fairly cranky to use. Today it’s an app that offers 0-60 and 60-0 times, quarter-mile ETs, horsepower, forward and lateral G and more. Save your charts and run data to compare and contrast. Hands-free automatic start. Cost: $8.99
OT-2 (iPhone): LogWorks Mobile is a free app for the iPhone that communicates with the OT-2 device, which is $179. LogWorks Mobile can be used without the OT-2 as a free dyno and efficiency meter. The OT-2 device plugs into the diagnostic port of cars 1996 and later and communicates wirelessly with the iPhone app, adding wireless gauge, OBDII scan tool and data logging capability. Neat, if you can use that sort of thing. An expensive toy otherwise. A unique piece in any case. Cost: App Free/OT-2 tool $179.00
iWrecked (iPhone, Android): Accidents happen, the story goes. The iWrecked auto accident assistant provides the contemporary equivalent of a reporter’s notebook to record all the info you need later for police or insurance purposes. Log all the details of the other driver (unlimited number of vehicles), take photographs, preview or send accident reports, find taxi or towing companies or even ping 911. Cost: Free
Fast Lane Street Racing (iPhone): The Lite version is free but spring for the 99-cent version to lose the ads. Ten original cars and high-speed “3D” graphics with good sound make for fun driving on two high-speed race circuits, six challenge tracks or eight twisty urban chases. Save the replays to see where you pranged the walls—cuz you’ll do that a lot until you get the hang of it, but it’s still big fun. Cost: $0.99
Repair Pal (iPhone, Android): When you need your car fixed in town, you probably know a good place to go. Out of town, you’re on your own in strange country. Wherever you are in America in a vehicle 1990 or newer, Repair Pal can call up emergency towing, repair shops, even help you get localized repair estimates, with handy one-touch roadside assistance. Cost: Free
Driver’s Ed (iPhone): New drivers need every advantage when facing that crucial first driver’s license written test. Driver’s Ed offers 13 study areas for tests in all 50 American states, with practice tests based on the real things. A randomizer juggles the 500-question database with each test to keep you on your toes. A test summary tells you how much time you took, overall score and which answers were correct or incorrect. Cost: $2.99
iDrive No Limits (iPhone): If you travel to other countries and rent cars, you need iDrive NL. It rosters up traffic regs on six continents (including the U.S.) with essentials such as speed limits, where electronic radar countermeasures are illegal and, curiously, lists the blood-alcohol level for drunk driving in all locations. A good consultation source once your private jet lands in Zurich and before climbing into the Bugatti Veyron. Slightly off-putting: The legal disclaimer text is longer than the features description. Cost: $0.99
Bonus: “The Coolest iPhone App Ever,” direct from its engagement on YouTube.
What are your faves?