Maybe you commute. Maybe you travel. Maybe you just like to drive. In any case, smartphone apps are key - and not just for navigation.
GOLD MEDAL: Dynolicious
This is one of the coolest apps on the iPhone, period. Dynolicious uses your phone's built-in accelerometers to recording everything from 0-100 times and skidpad g-forces to full lap - uhh, commute times, annotated with stats. The graphics (and graphs) are beautiful, and the data recall system is intuitive. A few things, though: this app hasn't been updated in a while, so the graphics haven't been updated for the retina display - no big deal, but this bothers some people. ALSO, it's kind of expensive! Luckily, before you buy it, you can try the same technology in a free promotional app from Bosch. It's slapped with advertising for spark plugs and the like, but it's free to start, and just $6 to upgrade, as opposed to $16 for Dynolicious proper. $13, iPhone
SILVER MEDAL: Road Trip
Allows you to diligently track you gas purchases and consumption, along with price. As long as you're diligent about entering data, this app will provide a complete readout of what you've spent on gas, and how. But Road Trip does the other gas tracking apps two better, with general trip expense reporting and tools for tracking your vehicles' maintenance histories. $6, iPhone
• Trapster: A speed trap finder with mixed reviews, mainly for poor design and unreliable data. • Car Finder: Do people actually use these GPS car finding apps? If so, this is a solid choice. • iWrecked: So you've crashed your car into a tree. What do you do next? Pick up your phone and... open an app, of course! Installing iWrecked is just about the most portentous act you can engage in with your iPhone. Seriously though, this has good info for after you've called the cops. • RepairPal: Kayak-like price comparison for local repair shops. Best corroborated with additional research, but it's a good start.
GOLD MEDAL: Tasker
OK, Tasker is more than just for use in the car, but it can make doing things so, so easy when you're in the car. Here's what Tasker does: it performs a set of actions given certain rules and context, a if X happens, then Y will follow kind of deal. So if you're in your car and turn on Car Home on your Android phone, Tasker will know to also shut off Wi-Fi, turn on GPS, flip on the radio and crank the volume. Or it could open NPR just as you hit traffic (or a certain GPS point). As an added bonus you can program it to read text messages out loud. It's an "advanced" sorta app but once you figure out how to program it to your liking, you won't be able to live without it. Turns your smartphone into a smarterphone, if you will. $6.49, Android.
SILVER MEDAL: ParkDroid
Come on, we've all wondered where the hell we parked our cars before. With ParkDroid, you can tag your parking spot so you'll never have to comb through every street to find your car again. It'll be right where you tagged it! ParkDroid also sifts through free parking and toll parking, and can remind you when the meter's up. A great app for the car, when you're out of the car. Free, Android.
• Car Home/Google Maps Navigation: These apps are no-brainers for any Android commuter, they're only this low because of their obviousness. • aCar: An app that can track maintenance, fuel mileage and other mechanical type things. • Doggcatcher: Expensive ($7.20!), but one of the best podcast apps for the hardcore listeners. • Google Listen: But for casual podcasters, it's hard to beat the free and ease-of-use of Google Listen, though. • Speedview: It's a speedometer app, as in it'll tell you how fast you're going. • Trapster: Lets you know where speedtraps are on your route