Best car apps 2019: our top picks
These are the best car apps of 2019 for iOS and Androidby Tudor Rus, on
As mobile phones get smarter and smarter, the apps they support and run become more versatile and powerful. Here, we’re going to focus on nine of the most useful car apps available on Google Play and the Apple App Store, what they do, and how they can make your life a lot easier.
We all know and love the almighty Waze, right? This app has become every driver’s go-to gizmo especially in crowded metropolitan areas, although it is also a good choice for the casual road trip since it offers user-updated, real-time data on construction work, police, and crashes along your selected route.
Except for China, you get a detailed map of every large city in the world but mind you, it won’t always give what you might consider the best route.
In our experience, the app focuses on keeping you on the move rather than crawling through a tailback, so it will sometimes pick a longer route that might take less time to cover than a shorter, traffic-jammed one.
However, those who haven’t got the chance to use Waze should know that it is by no means infallible, especially in packed traffic – after all, it has a finite number of streets to work with within a city, so its alternative routes are limited.
Do you happen to own a gas-guzzling pickup truck that is constantly poaching holes into your monthly budget? Or are you simply interested in paying the lowest possible price for gas? Either way, Gas Buddy might be what you need.
Its developers claim it will save around $340 per year on gas, and if we vector in the fact that 70 million people are already using Gas Buddy, we’d say it is worth your attention – keep in mind, though, that gas prices are only available for the U.S., Canada, and Australia.
It is also packed with features, in the sense that it does not just locate the lowest-priced gas stations near you but can also filter those that provide additional services such as car washes and restaurants – which comes in handy on longer trips or when time is of the essence.
It also notifies you of any gas price surges and will even monitor your driving style using the phone’s motion detection hardware, so it can pinpoint those less frugal, gas-burning actions – think hard acceleration, burnouts, using launch control, and the lot.
Described as the Wikipedia of parking spots, Parkopedia is currently available in 75 countries and 8,000 cities across the world – all in all, the app offers detailed info on north of 60 million parking spaces found in car parks, on the street, or in private driveways.
Its main assets revolve around telling you if a parking space is available and how much it costs, if that’s the case, and offering directions on how to get there.
Even cooler: new features allow you to see which parking spots are free in real time, book a parking spot in advance, and pay the fee through the app – which means running circles around your destination waiting for a parking space to clear up is now history.
One shortcoming would be that the app sometimes displays outdated pricing info on a given parking spot. Furthermore, in terms of what could make it better, we’d say extra info on EV charging points and perhaps some sort of user-generated info on the state of a parking spot – easy-access (or not), dirty (or well-maintained), large enough for pickup trucks and SUVs, and so on.
Download Parkopedia Parking on Google Play and App Store.
Fuelly aCar was developed with fleet managers in mind, whether it’s passenger cars, trucks, ATVs, snowmobiles, or even bikes they’re controlling.
Perhaps the standalone feature of the car is the abundance of, well, features it offers – you can easily input data, record fill-ups, expenses, trips, and get varied fuel economy readings (mpg, gallons/100 miles, miles/L, L/100 km, and km/L).
Not to mention you can track one car’s route in miles and another one’s in kilometers and, by going premium, upload photos and PDF documents.
Speaking of which, not upgrading to premium means you’ll get large ads most of the time, so you might want to take that into account.
Turo basically allows you to book (almost) any car you want or need and get it from the desired place. With a community of five million users, Turo grants you access to “850 unique makes and models” thanks to 200,000 vehicles available worldwide.
Each car has a badge that shows the number of trips and the overall distance it was driven for plus its own card with additional info – technical specs, fuel economy rating, body type, number of seats, a pick-up location, and the car insurance provider.
So, for example, if you’re looking to enjoy the sunny skies of L.A., then you could get a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible for $57 per day. Think of an Airbnb-style service, but for cars.
The people that provide their cars are called hosts and can be rated using a five-star system. They also get a percentage of the fee, so if you’re looking to cut down the cost of car ownership, then you might as well list your car on Turo.
In case the name’s not self-explanatory enough for you, we’ll state the obvious: Chargemap is a mobile app that helps you efficiently charge your electric or plug-in hybrid car. How? Well, you’ll have to thank a community of more than 280,000 users for that and over 220,000 listed charging points nicely pinpointed on a map. Plus, it’s 100-percent free.
In all fairness, Chargemap isn’t just about random charging next to where you live. It is best employed when planning a longer trip, which is usually prepared base on some essential bits of info – such as connector types on a charging station, open hours, and access details. To double on that, you’ll get user-uploaded reviews and photos and you can contribute as well by adding your own feedback and media.
And fret not, Tesla drivers, Chargemap brings together all Supercharger and Destination Charging stations. One drawback, though – it is only available in the U.K. and most of Europe. The next app on our list, however, is dedicated to U.S. residents as well.
Unlike Chargemap, PlugShare is designed to serve U.S.-based electric car and plug-in hybrid owners. It encompasses over 140,000 public charging stations – this lets you find charging spots throughout all major networks in North America (Tesla Supercharger, ChargePoint, EVgo and Blink) but also Europe (RWE, Clever, Enel).
So, what can it do, you’re asking? Well, the full bag of tricks – it helps you find charging stations that are compatible with your EV, check availability (in real time), pay for a charge directly through the phone and plan your longer trips based on station availability on the selected route. Which pretty much bids a chunky farewell to range anxiety.
We could write a bucketload of pages on the topic of speed cameras and whether they’re useful or not. But the thing is, that would hold little significance with RadarBot around.
Essentially a detector of sorts for speed cameras, RadarBot will send you real-time alerts combined with a speed camera detection system that relies on GPS.
Right, time to spoil the fun: this doesn’t mean you should drive like a lunatic thinking RadarBot has got your back, because you still depend on your driving skills (which might not be great) and public roads are not racetracks for a reason. By the way, that’s called safety.
Coming back to the app, its warnings arsenal covers fixed speed cameras, mobile cameras (provided there’s some user input available on those), tunnel cameras and even traffic light cameras. You also get four custom view modes and neat details such as the distance to the nearest speed camera, sound alerts that get more acute as you approach a speed camera and a feature that knows whether a speed camera is pointed towards you or not – which comes in handy as you won’t be forced to climb onto the brake pedal and cause a traffic fracas for no reason. And yes, it also works with Apple Watch. But again: safe driving should be your main concern here nonetheless.
Drivvo is a lot like Fuelly aCar, but with a strong personal touch – instead of large car fleets, you’ll be handling your own car’s cost management.
The developers promise “total management of your car” through odometer readings and trip mileage input, fuel-up recordings, maintenance stats and expenses, distance covered info and pretty much everything that’s related to car ownership these days.
Due to its complexity and variety of entries it allows, we reckon it could use a feature that saves and allows the addition of recurring expenses (car insurance or taxes, for example). Otherwise, you’re in for a straightforward, hassle-free experience thanks to the simple and clean user interface.
Do you use other car-related apps that can make a petrolhead’s life a lot sweeter? Feel free to chip in and let us know if we missed anything.