The January 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas featured all manner of apps and gadgets, including an remote app that will parallel-park your car. The future may promise “driverless”cars, but for now, Liz Weiman (in advance of her February “Apps Galore” class) lists 10 apps that promise to make life at the steering wheel a lot easier!
1. Google Maps is the app of choice for drivers, surpassing Apple’s native map app and others. This free app uses GPS and voice guidance to direct you from your location to an address you enter. It’s easy-to-use interface shows your progress on the map, and also allows you to see the entire route in advance. You can also use Google search to find places to eat, drink, and shop nearby and see reviews of these places. Live traffic information is available for select cities. (IOS, Android).
2. Gas Buddy lets you find up-to-the-minute, cheapest gas prices in your area and beyond using the free Gasbuddy app (also available online at Gasbuddy.com), with listed prices for all grades of gas. (IOS, Android, Blackberry).
3. Waze, the free app recently bought by Google for more than a billion dollars, is a community-driven, traffic avoidance program, which receives user data to pinpoint traffic jams, accidents. Among its many other features, Waze offers detours when heavy delays are encountered. (IOS, Android). Also, check out Inriix, another popular app, with an extremely large traffic intelligence network. (IOS/Android)
4. Repair Pal is a free app that gives you accurate repair estimates for your area after you input your car and the type of repair needed. The Repairpal.com web site is also available. (IOS, Android)
5. Trapster: This free app allows you to check any area for any known speed traps, red light & speed cameras, accidents, road hazards, plus more!. As you drive, new speed traps pop up. (IOS/Android/Windows Phone/Blackberry)
6. Carrr Matey: This free app makes finding your car and knowing how much time you have left on the meter a game. With it’s simple interface and pirate-theme, it makes its easy to remember where you parked. There are many other parking apps to try besides this one (listed below) but Carrr Matey has received consistently good reviews. (IOS, Android)
Other find your car apps include Honk (.99 cents, IOS), iCarPark (iOS, $0.99), Take Me To My Car (IOS free), Where is my car (Windows Phone, free), iFind My Car (.99 cents, IOS)
7. Sit or Squat: Charmin owns this free app, which allows you to find a bathroom near you on a road trip or in town. It also allows you to figure out toilets for a long road trip. It lets you know whether you should sit or squat (hence the name) in terms of bathroom cleanliness, and often lists bathrooms with diaper-changing stations. (IOS/Android). Where to Wee (IOS) is another very popular bathroom finder, along with Bathroom Scout Pro (Android).
8. PlugShare - This free app finds nearby hybrid or EV charging stations, and letting you know which ones are available or in use and more. You can filter your results and add or delete stations. You can also access the plugshare.com site. (IOS/Android).
9. Car Minder Plus - This $2.99 application lets you manage your car maintenance needs, keep a list of repairs, log oil changes, track your miles and fuel economy.(IOS)
10. Parkopedia logs more than 20 million parking spaces in 25 countries. It includes information for Houston and searches from your current location or the address you input. It will check for availability, and display information on rates and more. It can also give you information for parking spots on the street. (IOS/Android)
Liz Weiman’s 4-week class, “Apps Galore: Harnessing the Power of your Smartphone/Tablet”, starts on February 3rd, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.