Useful phone apps for driving

LeVeL

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What do you have on your phone to use while driving?

I have Pandora for music, though honestly I never use it while in the car, as it eats data. I also have Daily Roads Voyager, which turns your phone into a dashcam. I haven't used it since I got a dedicated dashcam.

And now the big one: navigation. I tried Waze probably nine years ago and didn't like it. I've been using Google Maps ever since. Well, today I decided to give Waze another try and I honestly don't see the appeal. Morgan Freeman's voice is lovely but it doesn't give you street names - only one voice setting does actually. The police notifications were all false for me today - the app warned me four times and there wasn't a cop anywhere in sight. The pothole warnings are useless - what good is knowing that somewhere over the next half a mile on this three-lane highway there is a pothole?? Equally useless is the "car in the breakdown lane" warning - what am I supposed to do with that information? I also don't know why you can display other Waze users - I honestly don't care that andrewsballs617 is driving somewhere on the same road as me. I also generally don't like the interface all that much - I find that Google Maps uses better color coding and the maps are easier to read. I do, however, really like the simplicity of using favorites for addresses. I'm switching back to GMaps for sure though.
 

rickhamilton620

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I never got the appeal of Waze either. I've used Google Maps w/Navigation for years and will likely stick with it, especially since it has gained some of the Waze enhanced traffic features.

I'm on Android and use a "Car Dock" launcher to simplify operation while on the road. Android used to have this built in, and some phone makers still do it, but there's plenty of great Play Store options. I use Car Dashdroid:





I haven't paid to get rid of the ad, but I probably will. It's highly customizable too, I added the music controls but you can just have a speedo or both there as well. There's also a day/night mode.

Other apps:

Music: Spotify (I pay for premium), Google Play Music (Has human curated radio that is excellent thanks to Songza), Pandora (just in case), DoggCatcher (for podcasts)

Navigation: Google Maps w/Navigation - Car Dashdroid integrates with Google Maps to make finding and setting a destination a bit easier.

Today I finally got around to setting up task automation - I didn't use Car Dashdroid much for around town driving, and would get frustrated by the phone screen shutting off and autolocking when music was playing. I decided to order some NFC Tags and used Trigger to create a routine that, when activated:

* Launches Car Dashdroid
* Sets media volume to 100% (I use a cassette adapter)
* Sets screen brightness to 100%, with adaptive brightness enabled
* Disables screen shutoff timeout

Once my tags arrive, I'll assign it to a tag and put it somewhere in my car - all I'd have to do is tap the tag to activate these changes. I can tap the tag again to reverse them. For now though, I have a Trigger button on my homescreen that runs the routine. So far so good and honestly...this right here..is one feature that puts a dent in me switching platforms.
 
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LazarusMP

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Some of my favourite car related apps (for Android):

Sygic GPS - Uses TomTom maps, the paid version is very fairly priced with lifetime updates, has a 3D view that shows terrain elevation and can also do HUD, dashcam and live traffic.

Gas Buddy - Crowd-sourced, live updated gas prices anywhere in North America (and now Australia as well). Their website: http://www.gasbuddy.com/

Torque - Plug a bluetooth OBD2 adapter ($10+ on Amazon) into your car's port and sync it with this app on your phone and you'll have real-time access to all of the sensors and data streams in your car. Turn your phone into a custom secondary dash panel with whatever gauges and readouts you like in a bunch of different styles or use it as an easy on-road diagnosis tool. Also reads and interprets OBD2 Codes (with a customized database of codes for your model of car) and allows you to clear them if you desire. You can also put individual gauges on you phone's regular homescreen if you prefer.
 
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Viper007Bond

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I use Google Maps for navigation as it tells me what lane to be in, etc. but I always run Waze when I'm on the freeway because it lets me know about cops. People are really good about reporting them around here. Saved my ass quite a few times.
 

93Flareside

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I always run Waze when I'm on the freeway because it lets me know about cops. People are really good about reporting them around here. Saved my ass quite a few times.
That's what radar detectors are for. As long as you're not in a commercial vehicle, Virginia, DC, or Canada, it's legal.

Escort, beltronics (lower price escorts, same thing), or Valentine One are all good choices. As far as the escort and beltronics brands, Escort is usually first for new features. Those two have more features out of the box rather than the Valentine but, you can get similar things.

In real world tests, some say the Valentine is more sensitive, oftentimes too much for some people. That can be a good or bad thing depending on where you drive. The higher end escort/beltronics detectors have GPS lockout which can be a blessing and a curse. If you take the same route everyday and want to mark out an automatic door from setting off k-band or X-band, you can do that but, from tests online, it locks out all k-band or all X-band related frequencies. So, if a cop knows that, he can sit in known areas and catch you. Typically only an issue in urban areas. Valentine recently got this feature too but, I believe it's an add on rather than just built in.

If you want to skate around the areas above where you can't have a detector. Beltronics and escort claim to have models that are not detectable by radar detector detectors. Radar Roy from radardetector.org says it's true in his testing though, I wouldn't want to test this because, if a cop visually sees your detector, you're done.

The two types of speed detection that are difficult or nearly impossible to know about is laser and VASCAR(times between marked locations for average). Laser is hard to read because it's aimed at reflective items on your car. By the time your detector goes off, it's too late regardless of which one you have. I picked up laser once because I had the detector mounted above the rear view mirror and I was going over a hill. Just at the crest the detector went off and I had a very short time to respond but, I was still aware before. VASCAR is sometimes detectable with your eyes because you'll see a line of cops on the side of the road waiting for the call from the airplane or helicopter.

Recently, the worst I've found is Georgia and Florida will sit at on ramps and laser you from behind. That's where Waze shines.

Around the Chicago area, state police laser and NW Indiana will VASCAR near 1 on ramp a few miles from the IL boarder. Once you're a good 50 miles outside of Chicago or off I90, it's all K-band radar. Tennessee VASCAR's sometimes as well. Illinois claims they do and has the markings on the road but, I've yet to see it in action.

*waits for Spectre to shit on all radar detectors and treats the Valentine one as the second coming.*
 

Viper007Bond

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I have a Valentine One and yes, it explodes with false positives around town which is one of the reasons I don't use it. The main reason however is that most cops who are stationary are using laser I believe, and by the time a detector picks that up, it's too late -- you've been tagged. You need laser jammers to defeat those and those are expensive.

I run my radar detector when I'm on back country roads because cops will usually be out there moving (not stationary) and have active radar on. Those are easy to hear coming and slow down in time.

For freeway use though, I rarely bother with my radar detector. I just end up having to silence it a lot.
 

CraigB

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Other than Google Maps for navigation (even though my truck has navigation) I use Fillup to track my gas mileage.
 
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