Technology perpetually moves forward.
Some categories evolve over a period of centuries, such as warfare (bows and arrows to stealth bombers), transportation (horseback to airplanes), and the written word (cave paintings to personalized computers). And others, like cellular telephones, have made great leaps in just the last decade or two.
Since around 1990, cell phones have gone from the size of a personal planner to barely larger than a box of matches, from only allowing users to make phone calls to allowing them to send text messages, write emails, and play Scrabble.
One of the most recent cell phone developments is the notion of “apps” (which is short for “applications”). Since the opening of Apple’s iTunes App Store in 2008 the popularity of apps has skyrocketed.
While people have a plethora of options to choose from, some of the most popular apps are aimed at improving the drivers’ security and comfort of drivers.
Navigation: Security and Comfort
Keeping a book of maps in the pocket behind the driver’s seat is a thing of the past. Today, people find their ways from point A to point B by using GPS systems.
Cost: Some cell phone GPS apps are free to download, such as the GPS tracker app from the iTunes App Store. Others, like the Tom Tom U.S.A. app, cost around $50.00. Many pay apps offer drivers step-by-step vocal directions on how to reach their destinations. Free apps usually show you the streets, your position, and your destination’s position, but you have to find the right combination of streets to get there.
How They Work: These apps use satellites, radio towers, and the radio signals emitted from your cell phone to obtain information about your location. Whether you’re trying to make it to a local park to see Fourth of July fireworks or looking for the best route from New York to Chicago for your summer road trip, your cell phone can take you there.
Police Spotter: Comfort
Many people are terrified of getting pulled over. As a driver going 70 miles per hour flies by covert cop car, he or she becomes stricken with sheer panic. The seconds of waiting seem to go on forever. And then they come. The red and blue lights, the chase down, and ultimately the shame.
If only the driver had downloaded the free RadarActive Speed Traps app, he would have saved himself the embarrassment, license points, and money that comes with getting a ticket.
How It Works: The RadarActive network relies on users with their own radar detectors to submit information about police traps to the RadarActive server. Basically, the more people who have the app, the better you can avoid a potential ticket.
Phone Models: At the current time the RadarActive signal can only function with the iPhone 3G, 3GS, and 4.
Traffic Reports: Security and Comfort
Being stuck in traffic can ruin a perfectly good day. Luckily, drivers can choose between several traffic apps that help them steer clear of bumper-to-bumper delays.
Cost: Many traffic apps, such as the traffic.com app, the Beat the Traffic HD app, and the Google Maps Navigation app, are free to download.
How It Works: These apps gather traffic information from websites, like traffic.com or google.com (shocking isn’t it), and offer this information to app users. Particularly, the Google Maps Navigation app bases its suggestions on present and past traffic information for a given street.
Phone Models: You can use the traffic.com app with a variety of cell phones, including the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Currently, the Beat the Traffic HD app only works on the iPad. The Google Maps app is available for download by Android phones.
Gas Stations: Security and Comfort
Drivers always want to avoid high gas prices, but they often find it difficult to determine which stations they should use. For a long time, drivers would base their gas-buying decisions on word of mouth or proximity to their location when the needle falls below “E.”
But now driver’s can use apps, such as the Google Android GasBuddy app or the GasBag app, to track down the most affordable gas stations within a certain distance.
Cost: You can download the GasBuddy and GasBag apps for free. What’s better than downloading a free app that helps you save more money?
How It Works: Both apps use past and current information to help you find the cheapest gas in your neighborhood.
Phone Models: GasBag can function with the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. GasBuddy will work for Blackberry, iPhone, Android phone, and Windows Phone users.
Restaurants and Fast Food: Comfort
Whether you’re on the tenth hour of a seventeen-hour excursion or you’re just taking your significant other out for a spontaneous dinner, many drivers want to know where and what type of restaurants are near them.
iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users can download the FoodFinder app for free or purchase the Find a Restaurant app for $0.99 to locate any restaurant in their area based on a particular type of food.
Apps, like countless other forms of technology, evolve constantly. Today’s wave of apps help people find cheap gas and fancy restaurants, avoid police traps and traffic jams, and simply find directions to unknown places. Just be sure to look for the next set of apps that can make a driver’s life even more convenient.