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7 driving apps to make your commute better

Try these handy smartphone apps to make your driving more fun and efficient.

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Driving to work can be just as stressful and unpleasant as a bad day at the office. Thankfully, there are plenty of apps designed to make your journey quicker, less stressful and more efficient.

Among more specific driving apps, you’ll find plenty of choices for real-time traffic apps available. All of them work pretty much the same way but differ in how quickly they are updated to take into account changed traffic conditions. You can try out a few to find one that works best for you and your commute.

Waze

Waze is a community-based traffic and navigation app. It relies on community users inputting information as it happens. It’s available for free on both Apple and Android phones.

  • What its best for: Avoiding traffic jams and accidents and suggesting alternative routes to get you where you’re going faster.
  • Our favorite feature: You can find alerts reported by users like potholes, cars parked on the shoulder and speed traps. However, since warnings are posted by users, it might not be useful if you drive down rural or less-frequented roads.

Don’t want to drive at all? Waze Carpool lets you find other commuters and share the ride.

Roadtrippers

This app provides reviews for hotels, campgrounds and places you’d want to eat or see along your road trip. You can string all your stops together with using a route-planning tool.

  • What its best for: Planning your stops along the road from start to finish before your journey and estimating how much actual time it will take.
  • Our favorite feature: This app allows you to access all the places you’ve been so you’ll never forget your favorite rest stop or hotel on the way.

TomTom

TomTom, one of the original GPS device brands, has an app for navigation that can run straight from your phone without the need for a separate device.

  • What its best for: Finding the shortest route to your destination and pointing out delays along the way.
  • Our favorite feature: This app has a red light camera and speed camera warnings to help you avoid getting a surprise ticket.

Spotify

Spotify is a digital music streaming service that works like radio, but is transmitted over the Internet. You can make your own playlist or look up playlists of friends or musicians.

It’s free for the basic version, which can be used on your computer or phone, but does have occasional ads. Spotify Premium is free for the first three months and then $9.99 per month afterward.

  • What its best for: Streaming music you actually want to hear. No more silly presenters, loud ads or inescapable overplayed hits, just your kind of music.
  • Our favorite feature: Spotify “learns” your taste, and after a while will start giving you music that’s similar to what you’ve previously selected.

Dash

Dash connects your car’s engine with your smartphone. The app integrates with an on-board diagnostics device and displays information about your car’s performance and current state. The app is free but requires an on-board diagnostic device to work. They range in price from $10 to $99.

  • What its best for: Letting you know how efficiently you’re using gas, when regular maintenance is required and the meaning of each dashboard light. This is especially helpful for older cars without digital displays or fuel-efficient engines.
  • Our favorite feature: This app suggests changes to your habits to help you drive better.

BestParking

BestParking helps you park your car without the hassle and stress of finding a spot. While it doesn’t cover every city, even if your city isn’t supported, consider this app for occasional trips to a bigger city where you’re not as familiar with parking. BestParking is free to download for iPhone or Android smartphones.

  • What its best for: Finding the cheapest and most convenient parking garages, lots and airports.
  • Our favorite feature: This app provides details about each parking spot or garage, including hours, costs, payment methods, discounts and more.

iOnRoad

iOnRoad is a driver assistance tool. It works by monitoring the road ahead of you and providing a warning for possible dangers or potential collisions.

To use it, mount your phone on the windscreen so that the camera has an unobstructed view of the road ahead. iOnRoad requires at least a 1GHz processor. It works best on iPhone 6 or newer, Samsung Galaxy S VI or newer and LG G4 or newer. It can work on other phones, but the results aren’t guaranteed.

  • What its best for: Avoiding any accidents, collisions or road hazards as you’re driving.
  • Our favorite feature: You can set the app to save the video, so you’ll always have a record of any incidents.

Making the most of driving apps

Driving while using a phone is dangerous and can be illegal. Make sure you stay safe on the road by preparing for your trip.

  • Make sure you have your phone and apps set up before you start driving.
  • Get a good phone mounting bracket that lets you see your phone screen without distractions.
  • Connect the phone to your car’s stereo system through Bluetooth.

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Bottom line

Compare just a few of the many apps available to help make your daily commute and road trips a little easier. New driving apps come out all the time, so keep an eye out for new services that make driving and comparing car insurance easier.

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