So many areas of our lives can be assisted by apps these days - cars and driving are no exception. There are plenty of apps out there to improve our driving and make life easier as a car owner. The Snakehive team have rolled up our sleeves, and with no need to go anywhere near grease, have come up with our favourite car and driving apps to keep on our phones. (But do remember not to use your phone while driving unless you have hands-free access.)
Similar to a maintaining your phone for optimal performance as described in our blog on speeding up your phone, to keep your car's performance at its best you need to maintain your car on a regular basis. But for some of us it's easy to forget the last time our car was serviced, or we just have no idea about the importance of car maintenance. Use these handy apps to help you stay in control of maintaining your car.
aCar (Free | Android)
This app is perfect for logging activities and keeping track of your car. Fuel fill-ups, fuel mileage to measure fuel economy, maintenance and service reminders dates for parts such as engine, oil, air filters can all be recorded.
Car Minder Plus (Paid £2.99 | iOS)
Car Minder's easy interface lets you record services, fuel fill-ups and repairs in mere seconds and look-up when a service is due. It's the iOS equivalent to aCar for Android devises.
Some insurance companies now have apps that sit on your phone and provide a snapshot of your driving. This recording and sending of data helps judge how much of a risk drivers pose, and can influence your insurance premiums.
Once you’ve completed 200 miles, you’ll get an individual driving score out of 10 based on things like your cornering, braking and acceleration. Safer drivers who score 7.1 or more save an average of £170 on Aviva comprehensive car insurance. Aviva expects 40% of safer drivers to achieve this saving or more.
One word of warning that applies to all route planner apps is to consider that using your phone's GPS for navigation will sap battery life. GPS drains the phone battery as fast as a standard car charger can fill it. The result is roughly the same battery level when you arrive at your destination as when you left. But having issued this warning there are many pros to having an accessible route planner at hand, and there is often the option to download routes and maps before you head out; check out these apps.
This handy app is available to everyone, whether you are an RAC member or not. It provides comprehensive traffic information that is displayed on an interactive map that gives you real-time road works, incident and general traffic information.
The TomTom GO Mobile app is a great combination of the latest TomTom car navigation technology and comprehensive traffic information. You get free navigation, speed cameras and traffic for 50 miles a month, every month. After you have used your 50 miles, you have to subscribe to retain the turn-by-turn navigation, traffic and speed camera functions, although browsing, route planning and a traffic overview are always available.
The phone app replicates the route guidance you get from one of its standalone devices. There’s UK and Ireland and European versions for those holidays abroad - and if you are heading overseas, check out our recent blogs on planning your holiday, and learning a language.
Google Maps provides real-time GPS navigation, traffic, public transport and details about millions of businesses, such as reviews and popular times. Offline maps can be quickly and easily downloaded onto your phone - and you can get driving directions while offline. You won't be able to search for restaurants or shops while offline, but you can use maps to navigate to an address or postcode.
Apple Maps (native app | iOS)
Use the Maps app that comes with your Apple phone to get directions with real-time traffic information and route planning. With iOS 10, Maps gives you detailed information and suggestions based on your habits and calendar events.
A good read comparing Google Maps and Apple Maps can be found in Tom's Guide if you want to find out more.
Apps to help you save money are a Snakehive favourite. For more money saving tips, check out our recent blog on phone apps to save money; it features the helpful app Parkopedia (Free with in-app purchases | Android, iOS) that will help you locate the free parking areas in your current location, so you never need to pay for parking again.
A really useful app that allows you to save money by comparing UK petrol and diesel prices in 8,490 stations, updated daily. You can find the cheapest or nearest fuel in your location. Set the fuel type, brand and radius then search.
Apple Car Play (Free on selected cars | iOS)
Every major car manufacturer currently offers car models that support CarPlay; it's a smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car. CarPlay takes the things you want to do with your iPhone while driving and puts them on your car’s built-in display. You can get directions, make calls, send and receive messages, and listen to music. You control with a word, a touch or a twist.
Android Audio (Free | Android)
Android Audio is the Android version of Apple Car Play. You can connect your phone to a compatible car display or put your phone in a dock and use Android Auto directly from your phone screen. It has a simplified interface, large buttons and powerful voice actions and is designed to make it easier to use apps from your phone while you’re on the road. You can navigate with Google Maps, listen to playlists or podcasts from your favourite apps, send messages via voice and more.
With this app you can search and browse over 400,000 new and second hand cars for sale. Whether you’re looking for a reasonably priced second hand BMW 3-series estate to ferry the family around, a brand new MINI convertible to cruise in the British sunshine, or a classic Jaguar XJS to turn heads then you’re likely to find it on Auto Trader.
If you regularly place your phone in a dashboard car phone holder you'll be needing a case with less bulk. Check out our Leather Shell Cases as they're designed to be slim and super-lightweight without compromising on phone protection.
And lastly a word of caution...as much as sat nav has revolutionised how we plan our routes, don't blindly follow sat nav instructions and end up in the scenario witnessed by Snakehive directors, Nick and Gill. During their recent holiday to Cornwall they came across this interesting scene - a lorry completely stuck in a weenie Cornish lane after the driver had blindly followed his sat nav instructions, with no account of road width. The entire contents of the lorry had to be unloaded before the lorry could reverse its way to safety - whoops!
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