Most BlackBerry owners, for example, know they can improve their Interstate IQ by using the navigation function of their smartphones, and people with a Web browser on their phone can check out World Traffic Cams to see if there is congestion at the Lincoln Tunnel before heading into New York.
Indeed, our love affair with cellphones is increasingly being coupled with our love affair with the automobile, spawning applications — some silly, some sublime — that drivers can download to their mobile handsets for little or no money.
On the practical side, there are programs that help with the more mundane aspects of automobile ownership. One free application for the iPhone, for example, tries to demystify repair bills. Tap in the make and model of your vehicle along with what ails it and RepairPal spits out estimated parts and labor costs. It does not include diagnostic fees and taxes, but it does offer a list of nearby repair shops with customer ratings, should you want to comparison shop.
Conversely, on the pure fun side, there’s Dynolicious. Using the same kind of technology that enables a Nintendo Wii game controller to follow your gestures, this $12.99 application uses an iPhone’s built-in accelerometer to gauge 0-to-60 times (to within 0.08 of a second) and other performance characteristics, including lateral G-forces. Like competing programs such as g-tac pro ($19.99), Dynolicious will also let you assess your vehicle’s top speed, but to get precise results you’ll need to secure the phone in a cradle…
There’s also hand-held help for those of us who are bedeviled by senior moments, especially when it comes to parking the car. Much like a feature now available on many portable navigation devices, there are free programs like ParkMark for G1 owners that remember where you parked. Press a button to note the precise location of your car using the device’s GPS, then later, using Google Maps it will lead you back to the appropriate spot.
And for those who are reminded of the looking-for-a-bathroom Seinfeld episode, the answer is, yes. There’s a smartphone application for that, too. SitOrSquat is a free program for iPhones and BlackBerrys that locates public restrooms. It even includes user reviews and connects to Google Maps to offer directions…
Finally, should you have an accident, there’s iWrecked. This $1.99 iPhone program helps you gather all the information you’ll need should the unthinkable happen, including the location, time, names and insurance information of other drivers. You can also then use your phone to take photos of the damage and the position of the cars. Assuming, that is, that after all your travails your phone is still working.
One of those tee-hee articles that notes perfectly useful smartphone apps. RTFA. Take a test ride.