Sitting behind the wheel isn't everyone's favorite place to be. Whether you love or hate it, there are plenty of ways to make your driving experience better. Your smartphone, for one, is packed full of apps that can help improve your driving experience.
Here are the best iPhone and Android apps every driver needs to use.
1. Find My Parked Car
This app allows you to record your car's location when you leave your vehicle. When you're ready to return to your car, open the app and it will guide you back to your parking space.
You can also set an alarm to alert you when your parking permit is about to expire, add a note with the car park floor, parking zone information, or even your number plate information. The iPhone app also features Apple Watch support, so you can view your turn-by-turn walking navigation within the Maps app.
The premium version of the Find My Parked Car app shows your parking history for your last 20 trips. It also offers dark mode and removes ads. It's a one-off fee, so if the frequent ads annoy you, it's good to know you have the option to pay a couple of dollars to disable them.
If you've made the move to an electric vehicle, it's wise to plan ahead and schedule car charging stops into your journey. The PlugShare app allows you to do just that. Using the app, you can find electric vehicle charging points in North America and Europe. There are over half a million electric vehicle charging points listed within the app, and it's completely free.
First, you search for the location where you want to charge your car (you can search by city, zip code, or well-known locations, like airports). The PlugShare app will bring up all known charging points on one large map. You can then tap on each location to view information on that point. This includes the cost of using the charging point, its exact location, photos, and reviews left by other PlugShare app users.
Once you've registered, you can put in your vehicle details and plan routes, which factor in how far your car can go between charges and available charging points. So if you plan a trip from Hollywood to San Francisco, most electric vehicles will need at least two full charges. The app lets you add them to your trip, so you can plan your stopovers, accordingly.
Radarbot uses GPS to pinpoint your location and alert you of speed limits. Of course, it's important to always stay within the speed limit when driving but, sometimes, you may not be aware of the limit on the road you're traveling on. So an alert from Radarbot can help you avoid expensive fines and points on your license.
You can create a shortcut on the iPhone app so it will automatically connect to your car's Bluetooth or CarPlay, to keep you informed as you drive. Radarbot works alongside your regular directions app.
The Rararbot app also tells you which type of camera you're approaching, so you'll know whether it's an average speed camera, a traffic light camera, or a regular speed camera.
By subscribing to the Radarbot app, you get rid of ads and gain access to automatic updates of speed cameras. You'll also be able to access worldwide offline navigation and speed camera alerts, real-time traffic, speed camera, and incident alerts. The subscription also gets you the option to pick the route with the least speed cameras, offline 3D maps, road speed limit alerts, and more.
4. Smart Dash Cam
The Smart Dash Cam app allows you to use your smartphone as a dashcam. All you need is to mount it to your windscreen so the camera can see the road, and the app does the rest.
You can preset the app to record continuously whenever you're driving or just on impact. The app also boasts an autofocus feature and the ability to overlay your car's number plate information as well as a map to clearly show your location. You have the option to switch audio recording on or off, and you can either use all of your phone's available storage or specify a set amount to use and the app will record over old footage on a loop.
The app allows you to either set your phone display to black, to minimize distraction, or to see the live footage. It's worth noting that the Smart Dash Cam subscription simply removes ads, but you're required to pay monthly, or annually—it's not a one-off fee.
If you're heading somewhere new and aren't sure where to park, you need Parkopedia. Parkopedia is well on the way to mapping and listing every parking space in the world. To date, Parkopedia has grown to cover 70 million parking spaces in over 15,000 cities around the world, thanks to contributions from drivers.
You can use this app to find parking using your current location or by entering an address. Additionally, you can get directions straight to the space, and see parking space availability in real-time, where available (a premium upgrade is required for this). The app allows you to find opening hours, payment methods, up-to-date prices, and more. It allows you to quickly narrow down parking choices using filters including free, street parking only, credit cards accepted, and more.
The premium version gives you the ability to reserve and pay for parking through the app and view real-time parking availability in some car parks
What3Words has essentially replaced ordinance survey maps. The developers have broken down the world map into three-meter-squared chunks and assigned each chunk three random words. For example, when you search for a location on the app, you will get a list of three words. Conversely, if someone gives you three random words (let's use "hiker, roosts, exhaling"), you can put it into the app to see the location for it (Stonehenge in this case).
The app is designed to help emergency services know exactly where to find you if you're stranded in an unfamiliar location and are offline, so you can't use your smartphone's map app. You can also use the app to plan exact meetup locations, tell car breakdown services exactly where you are, and more.
what3words addresses are accepted by many worldwide emergency services, breakdown services, and delivery companies. Businesses and hotels display what3words on their contact pages, and booking confirmations—anywhere you would normally find location information.
Make Driving Fun Again
Driving doesn't have to be a chore. Downloading apps to your smartphone can definitely help to make your journey less painful. Why not create a collaborative Spotify playlist with your friends, to help make your road trips even more enjoyable?