In the hands of texting drivers, smartphones may be the bane of your existence during your daily commute. However, their power can also be used for good. Whether you have an iPhone or an Android phone, these apps can make your drive better, whether you need directions, a parking spot, fuel or even help dealing with an accident.
Unless noted, all of these apps are available for both Android and iOS.
1. Google Maps
It’s easy to overlook this app since it comes with every Android phone, but Google’s navigation app has gotten some major improvements recently. Now that they own Waze, they’ve been able to bring some of the service’s traffic information into their own navigation, while integration with Google accounts lets you find destinations from your computer and send them to your phone.
In a major city and looking for a place to park? This app lets you find available parking spaces and pay for them, often at rates lower than you’d pay at the parking entrance. Currently, SpotHero parking is available in most major Eastern and Midwest cities with West Coast locations set to be added soon.
3. Find My Car Smarter/Car Locator
Speaking of parking, don’t you hate it when you leave your car for hours and can’t find it again? Car Locator for Android and Find My Car Smarter for iOS keep you from hunting down your car by saving the location when you stop and guiding you back when you’re ready to leave.
In 1997 and newer vehicles, the OBD II port provides information covering the entire vehicle including speed, coolant temperature, oil pressure and trouble codes. With the right adapter, Torque for Android and DashCommand for iOS can put that information at your fingertips. That means real-time information on fuel consumption, engine monitoring and the ability to clear codes. They can even record performance measurements like 0-60 mph times.
This app helps you find the best price on fuel in your area with coverage of nearly every gas station in the country and frequent updates by users. Need to fill up with something less common like diesel or E85? It can automatically filter results to help you find the right fuel for your vehicle.
If you own an electric or plug-in hybrid car, this is a must-have app. This electric equivalent to GasBuddy has an interactive map covering over 40,000 charging stations across the U.S. Each entry lists the type of charging connection and for some locations it can tell you if there are any spaces available.
Even a minor fender bender can be stressful, making it easy to forget important details. WreckCheck walks you through what you need to do after the collision and uses your phone’s camera and audio recorder to document the accident. WreckCheck helps you file and send the accident report and offers tips on how to follow up on your claim.
8. iCarMode/Car Dashdroid
iCarMode for iOS and Car Dashdroid for Android can change the interface of your phone to make it easier to use while driving. That means big, simple icons for common features like navigation and streaming radio so you can find what you want while minimizing the time you have to look at the phone screen.