Motoring apps are one of the unsung revolutions of the digital age. Whether it’s playing games, locating car parks or helping your breakdown company find you in a strange neighbourhood, there really is an app for that. Here we look at five different areas of driving and the mobile phone apps that could come in handy to help save drivers money.
Motoring apps: Satellite navigation
Specify the manufacturer’s built-in sat nav on any car and it’ll cost you hundreds of pounds. If it’s a small car, second-hand buyers won’t pay any extra for a sat nav so specifying one on a new car could be a costly business. And besides, you can have a sat nav on your phone.
For navigation, there are a wide variety of free and paid-for apps, such as Here, Waze and CoPilot. Useful features worth considering are whether the apps take post codes; some car sat navs don’t. The app should also have a super simple screen with large icons and be intuitive to use. Voice guidance is handy and ideally you want it to work offline so if you’re abroad you don’t have to use an expensive data connection to get to where you’re going.
Examples: Here – Windows, Android, iOS (Free); Waze – Windows, Android, iOS (Free)
Motoring apps: Learning to drive
You can now use all the time you spend waiting for buses and trains productively: by learning to drive. Find an app that will take you through the theory part of the driving test and you could entertain yourself while learning something useful.
Example: Driving Test Success – Windows, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Kindle (From £1.49)
Motoring apps: Petrol price finders
The price of petrol can vary dramatically from garage to garage. If you’re one of the growing band of drivers who shop around for fuel to ensure they buy the cheapest, an app can be a handy addition to your mobile. Petrol Prices Pro is the app for the popular website PetrolPrices.com. In August 2015 it claims data for 10,890 fuel stations with around 8000 daily updates from all over the UK. One criticism is users are limited to 20 searches per week which high mileage drivers won’t appreciate.
Petrol Price Finder UK uses data provided by its users. That means the number of fuel stations it has information on can be limited. It is also only available for Windows phones. However, it is rated highly by users.
Examples: Petrol Prices Pro – Android, iOS (£2.99); WhatGas/Petrol Price Finder UK – Windows (£0.79)
Motoring apps: Parking
If you frequently find yourself having to park but with no change to feed pay and display machines, Parkmobile is an app worth investigating. You register on it for free with your car and card details. You then use the app to find a car park that’s part of the scheme and pay from your phone. It enables you to extend your parking time if need be and means you don’t have to carry small change with you. The downside is the number of participating car parks is relatively small at the moment. But with the backing of BMW it should grow.
If you need an app for finding where to park, try the NCP’s. It’s free but it is limited to telling you the nearest NCP car park.
Examples: Parkmobile – Windows, Android, iOS, Blackberry (Free); NCP – Android, iOS (Free)
Motoring apps: Motorway services
Service areas can be one of the necessary evils of driving in the UK with some proving expensive and standards frequently variable. So it makes sense to check them out before you arrive. Motorways Services UK features information on every motorway services in the UK. It would be good if it rated them for quality and expense too but at least you’ll know what culinary delights await you. Although this is paid for, there is a free seven-day trial period.
Next Junction is designed for drivers who elect to avoid motorway services altogether. This app features 1700 pubs, petrol stations, restaurants and play areas and enables drivers to research off-motorway stops.
Examples: Motorways Services UK – Windows (£1.19); Next Junction – Android, iOS (Free)