Here are some useful applications for motorists that we've tested for the major smart-phone platforms. Apps with similar functions—and sometimes even the same name—can be found for platforms other than those noted here. Do not handle your phone while driving, because that creates a distraction that jeopardizes safety for you and others.
Car Finder uses your phone's compass and GPS capability to mark the position of your car when you park and then guide you
back to it later. It works in a parking lot or on city streets, but because it relies on the phone's GPS signal, it won't
work in an indoor garage.
Using the iPhone's built-in accelerometer, GreenMeter monitors your driving and displays your car's mpg, fuel cost, and carbon
emissions. But you'll have to add a mounting device for hands-free use.
Once you set it up by entering maintenance-schedule information from the car owner's manual, aCar reminds you when your car
is due in the shop. It even reminds you when it's time for your car's annual inspection, and tracks fuel mileage and costs.
DriveSafe.ly reads e-mail and text messages aloud while you drive and can send a response message saying you're unavailable.
The free version has a limit of 25 words per message. The premium version can handle messages of 500 words.
BlackBerry and Android; coming for iPhone, Palm webOS, Symbian, and Windows Mobile.
This simple program takes you through a list of what to do after a car crash, including taking photos of the scene and getting
contact and insurance information from other drivers. It will also dial 911 and locate the nearest police station, taxi, or
tow-truck service to assist you.
RepairPal helps you find a repair shop and get estimates. If you break down, it will locate a tow truck. After you enter your
car's make, model, and other details, it will give a range of estimates in seconds. It also helps keep records and gives service
iPhone, coming soon for Android.
Of the navigation apps we've tested, these stand out. All are easy to use and have features found on better portable GPS navigators.
And all let you route to an address from your phone's contact list. But they're relatively expensive and require a separate
mount, and most new smart phones already come with free navigation capability.
Magellan and TomTom: iPhone; Navigon: iPhone and Windows Mobile.