Smart phones can offer so much more than just Facebook and Twitter. Especially while driving, you should put that tech to use, making your drive a better, more efficient, safer experience. Of course we don’t want you playing Minecraft or Pokémon GO while driving, so keep your eyes on the road, and use these car apps in the background, while you focus on driving. Here’s our list of the best automotive apps, for any device.
By far the largest mobile app market out there, Android offers an overwhelming variety of automotive apps. Unfortunately, that surplus of choice can create some confusion, as some third party apps are less than stellar. Some are junk. Fear not friend, as we spent the weekend wading through the best Android car apps, and these are our picks.
By: Ian Hawkins
C’mon, it’s Zeroto60imes. Of course we would pic the premier carputer monitoring app. Measure 0-60, horsepower, torque, and more. Clear OBD fault codes, see stats from your last trip backed by Google maps, change in-app dashboard gauges to your liking, and now there’s even a track recorder. Seriously so much greatness for only $5.
If you want turn-by-turn navigation, it’s hard to beat the free and slick looking Waze. This app uses GPS satellites rather than offline maps, so keep a charging cord handy. That extra power gets put to good use though, as Waze can warn you of traffic delays, update your route on the fly if you don’t follow it exactly, and even send your ETA to your friends so they won’t need to text asking where you are at.
Similar to Torque, but for the average commuter, Smart Control offers this app as a complete onboard computer that gives tons of details and options for display. Rather than being concerned with acceleration, this app looks into your daily grind and displays your fuel economy and emissions displayed over your route map. The goal is to find a more efficient route and save money, but the app can display and clear error codes too.
Now even your “classic” Geo Metro can have Android Auto! AutoMate brings Android Auto style and features to any ‘droid phone or tablet. This app integrates with Google Maps, text messaging, phone calls, pretty much every music app, and voice controls, which will make you feel like your old beater is more expensive than it actually is. The premium version even offers motion controls, for days when you just can’t bear to reach over and touch the screen. Slick.
iOS doesn’t feature nearly the variety of the ‘droid store, but the locked down app market does offer quality apps throughout their market, including the auto-related apps. You can’t really go wrong on any car app in the Apple iOS store, but some are more useful than others. Here’s a few of the best.
By: Bunsentech, LLC
Like those old G-Tech meters that were popular 15 years ago (whatever happened to those?!), Dynolicious can estimate your vehicle’s horsepower. The app reads sensor data compared to GPS info to simulate the effects of a dynometer. The calculations are fairly accurate, as numerous YouTube videos comparing Dynolicious to a G-Tech or real dyno reveal the app is off by only 2%, which isn’t bad since it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a dyno day.
By: TomTom International BV
Sure, you have your maps already loaded when you buy your iPhone, but TomTom does it better. The maps are more up-to-date than most other apps, meaning they are more accurate. There are also speed trap warnings, which comes in handy for drivers with a heavy foot. The clutter-free design looks great too, and is easy to see in any light.
Dashcams aren’t just for Russian cabbies anymore. Why pay $50 or more for a dedicated unit when you have a device in your pocket that can do the exact same thing? With a cheap windshield mount and the Carcorder app, you have more than the basics for recording your drives. Take pics (when stopped), monitor speed, and even track your location for when the YouTube worthy shenanigans go down.
By: Diego Resnik
Much like the above AutoMate for ‘droid, iCarMode takes your iPhone or iPad and turns it from a general purpose device into a perfect carputer. The goal here is to keep your eyes on the road, so the tiny icons have been replaced with larger more visible icons for your most-used apps. This lets you make calls and use the music player without struggling through pages or hunting for buttons. It even has neat exclusive features, like reminding you where you parked, and when the parking meter will expire.
Yup, even the limited Windows Store app market supports decent auto related apps. While you’re out of luck on the heavy hitters like Torque, there’s still a lot of cool stuff to do with or to your car. Here’s our picks for the best Windows Phone automotive apps.
By: GasBuddy Organization Inc
The most comprehensive realtime gas price data online will help you find the cheapest gas in your area. Sure, prices probably differ by all of ten cents per gallon, but if you have just filled up a big tank, seeing that cheaper price right down the street is a downer. Now save time and money by just hitting the cheapo places. Slick maps and solid reliability make this one of the standouts on WP.
OBD Auto Doctor
By: Creosys Ltd
Like the name suggests, OBD Auto Doctor is an advanced form of code reader. Like similar apps, it can read and clear codes through your diagnostic port, and gain insight into conditions like real-time emissions and fuel economy. The gauges aren’t the best looking, but the overall layout is slick, clean, and intuitive. It can even email you the diagnostic data.
GPS Voice Navigation
By: Melon JSC
At least you know what you are getting with these appropriately named WP apps. The turn-by-turn navigation here is better than what Cortana can do, thanks to integration with GoogleMaps, Bing, and MapQuest. The design is clear and bright, and navigating pages is simple due to the live tile design that mimics the Windows Phone system. The only noticeable drawback is the narrator’s odd pronunciation of abbreviations. Still the best on this platform.
By: Santiago Carela
MyCar is a simple but useful car application that lets you manage all your auto related information. It’s a lot like a digital version of the records certain sellers brag about having included with their vehicle. Maintenance schedules and reminders, what was done, how much it cost, and so on. There’s even a feature to store info in case of an accident, like insurance carrier and license number, available to email to your fellow motorist at the touch of a button. Hopefully you won’t need that feature….
Still stuck in the Bush administration, eh? That’s okay, we’ve got you covered with the best automotive apps and themes for your old Crackberry.
Honda Automotive Database
By: Peter Linszter
If you work with Honda vehicles, or just own them, this is the authoritative app for you. It’s like an offline Wikipedia just for Honda. It covers info on all the major series engine specs, OBD0/1/2 ECU fault codes, transmission specs, chassis weights, ECU pinouts, and so much more. I wish this was on my phone.
By: Binghamshore Corp.
Yes, another code reader, but really everyone should have one of these on their phone. Like the other code readers on here, MyMotoScan can find out why your Check Engine light is on, letting you know how to fix it. Once the issue is corrected, use the app to clear the light, and you should be good to go. Bonus points for a lightweight 2mb install and user-friendly interface.
This app is kinda like Gearheads 101. WildMotor is an online sourced database of info and pictures of vehicle from the last two decades. Want to know what a ’96 Corvette Grand Sport looks like? Or which car would win a race between a MKIV Supra and a 370Z? Now you can view tons of pics and all the critical stats you could ever need to win that internet bench racing argument.
There’s quite a few great car apps listed here to get you started. Download some and come back to let us know what your favorites are in the comments below.
By: Andy Jensen