Since the launch of App Store back in 2008, Appification (a term I use to describe the app era which is 2008-present) has taken the world by storm. And don’t get me wrong, by the world I don’t just mean the tech sector. Apps have simplified lives by optimizing multiple factors inside infinite industries. Same is its impact on the auto world. From intelligent drive systems to cars that drive themselves, tech is all set to leave profound implications on the industry.
Now let’s go back to where we started, ‘Appification’. Just like with other sectors, there are now a plethora of different apps available on your app stores, from navigation apps to dash cam apps all promising to support your driving needs. Over the years, I have used several apps for cars all the way from AutoMate to Waze, and I think every driver needs to have the following four apps.
First up: Car Dashdroid – Car Infotainment
Don’t be fooled by its awkward name as its one of the best car launcher that I tested. The interface is pretty much reminiscent of HTC’s car mode. The app comes with a dark theme too to prevent eye stress during your late-night drives. The app requires no initial set-up at all if you’re using it on Android 6.0 and below. On Android 6.0 Marshmallow and newer devices, you would need to accept a couple of hardware permission requests made by the app upon your first launch, after which you are ready to go. The app is optimized for both vertical and horizontal screen viewing depending on your preference or the accessory you are using to hold your phone. Car Dashdroid acts as a launcher when you are driving to show large thumbnails of the apps, contacts, music and actions you use the most to serve as a mobile infotainment system. On Android, Google Search is baked right into the app for hands-free access. As far as navigation is concerned, you can use any app you currently have on your phone for directions like; Google Maps or Sygic, I will discuss both of them in the following paragraphs. Car Dashdroid is only available for Android through Google Play Store.
Next: iON Road – Augmented Driving
iON Road is by far the most innovative driving related app I tested. iON Road converts your phone into an augmented reality machine using its camera, GPS and onboard sensors to mark the vehicles in front of you in real time. It alarms the driver through audio and visual warning if the distance between the cars in front reduces to a dangerous level to prevent a forward collision. The app scans the painted road lines to mark your trajectory, and it warns the driver if the car swings off track. Furthermore, it detects the speed signs to alert the driver when he over speeds. Other features include car locator, video and image capturing. The app also automatically senses when the car is parked and saves its GPS coordinates to navigate you to your parking spot when you want to hit the road again. In a nutshell, iON road can give you a heads up display experience, dash cam functionality along with some other cool features without breaking your bank. It is available for download on both Google Play Store and Apple Appstore.
Next up: Sygic – GPS Navigation & Maps
Sygic offers offline 3D maps for your city on your smartphone. These offline maps also support onboard navigation complete with traffic details. The app’s interface is well designed and easy to operate. It provides suggestions to the driver for the fastest route by analysing the traffic and distance. It also comes with police/speed camera warnings along with suggestions for nearby tourist attractions. Traffic and point of interest suggestions both sound pretty good features however there is one other app which does all of that far more accurately and has more businesses inside its point of interests portfolio, and that is Google Maps, which I will elaborate in the next paragraph. Furthermore, Sygic offers heads-up display capability which means you can project navigation to your car’s windshield which according to my experience works perfectly after dusk. Sygic is also available on both Google Play Store and Apple Appstore.
Top Pick: Google Maps
Google Maps as you might already know is the world’s most used navigation app. Google Maps does almost everything Sygic does, but it has two important weapons up its sleeve. The most obvious one being a larger user base, which allows Google Maps to provide the most accurate traffic guidelines and a vast selection of nearby attractions complete with their reviews and photos. The second weapon which Google Maps uses is Artificial Intelligence (AI). Google’s AI allows Maps to provide more accurate travel times along with sending you contextually aware notifications through Google Now, for example, it suggests the user to leave by a suitable time to reach office or school or to any event you logged into your phone’s calendar. These smart moves backed by Google’s massive database of usage patterns make Google Maps a must-have and must-use app. It comes pre-installed on most Android phones and is available for iOS devices through Appstore.