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Friday, January 9, 2009

Awesome Automotive Applications for the Blackberry and Iphone

While the fundamentals of the automobile have changed very little since the end of World War II, the evolution of the phone has been far more rapid. We’ve come a long way from the days of “Hey, guess where I’m calling from!” Today you can order pizza with your phone without even talking to someone, and with new features and technologies like GPS, cellular triangulation, and accelerometers, there are a lot of cool car-related things you can use your phone for, too. Here are a few that caught our attention.


Google Maps

If you don’t already have Google Maps on your phone, well, shame on you. It’s free and it’s much more than a simple way to learn street names. It also has directions, traffic information, and local business listings. On some phones it will even let you search for a business or address using voice recognition. Google has also added GPS support to show you exactly where you are, and if your phone doesn’t have GPS, it can make a pretty good guess using cellular triangulation.



Although this list is about cars, here’s an item that might keep you away from your car. The iBreath is a breathalyzer for the iPhone (and iPod). The perils of drinking and driving from a physical, legal, or financial perspective are such that mixing any alcohol with piloting a car is a bad idea. But if you’re worried that the glass of wine you had, say, four hours ago, is enough to get you into trouble with the law, then the iBreath will be worth the $79. Even better, you can let your drunk friends entertain themselves while you designated-drive them home. And it doubles as an FM transmitter for your music to boot.


Speedometer v1.1

There are more than a few speedometers for the iPhone out there, but what we like about this one is the simplicity of either a big three-digit digital display or a more traditional needle gauge. Of course, your car probably has a working speedometer (unless you spent that repair money on your new iPhone), but GPS is typically more accurate. Also, this speedometer is easily transferable to boats, planes, chickens, and your friends.


Cameras Ahoy

To be honest, we’re scared by the whole traffic-camera idea, but that could be because we’ve watched Terminator 2 too many times. But even if you’re not anticipating a robot apocalypse, the Cams Ahoy application for the iPhone is pretty handy. It uses a database of red-light and speed cameras in North America (there’s a European version as well) to warn you when they lurk nearby.


Turn-by-Turn Navigation

Every major mobile-phone carrier in the U.S. offers some form of turn-by-turn navigation for about $10 a month. If you have a compatible phone, you can have maps and verbal directions guiding you from place to place. This is a good solution if you want to keep your gadgets to a minimum, but after a couple of years the subscription fee could buy you a good dedicated GPS unit.


Road Trip

What if you could track all the expenses of your car in one place? Yeah, we’ve heard of paper, and Microsoft Excel works, too. But Road Trip does the math for you and stores it on your iPhone or iPod Touch. The part we like the most is the cool graph that shows fuel costs and average mpg over time. And it lets you look at the cost per day to keep those wheels turning.