Today we're learning internal politics have hindered Google in its cloud music plans while Apple isn't yet ready to make us all go 'lala'. Meanwhile, as the season turns to taking long drives to visit family and friends: here's six good apps for drivers.
DriveMeCrazy for iPhone (free)
From the man who launched Shazam, DriveMeCrazy is a free app that lets drivers report bad or aggressive drivers. Available on the iPhone you can activate the app's recording feature with one touch, after which you just speak in the license plate of the badly-driven vehicle.
It gets better: once you've done this you can pull over to write a ticket that reports details of the driving offense, leave an audio message for the other driver, share their flag on Twitter and Facebook and look up the driver's previous record on DriveMeCrazy.
Data collected from usage of the app is submitted to the DMV, insurance companies and local law enforcement. (Creepy on the road romantics can also use the app to rate other drivers attractiveness and send them pictures, contact details or messages).
Spend too much time messing with your Phone and this could be all the distraction it takes to cause you to lose focus and cause an accident -- so DriveSafe.ly exists to help. The app will read your text (SMS) messages and emails out loud and can make an automatic response without requiring the driver touch the phone.
The app was developed by iSpeech.org founder Heath Ahrens, and uses remotely-hosted iSpeech software as a service (SaaS) to convert text into the highest quality speech available .
The free application reads up to 25-words per message, reads text message and email shorthand and features a text auto-responder.
The premium version costs $13.95 and features the choice of a female or male voice, text and email auto-responders and a 500-word per message read back limit.
Cheap Gas! (free)
Gas prices are higher than ever, and when you've got to travel a few miles you can save a lot of money just by finding the best deal on fuel. Cheap Gas! is only operational in the US and Canada, and uses data supplied by Gas Buddy.
Cheap Gas! gives you gas prices, sorted by distance or price, and will locate stations by GPS or postcode. There's an augmented reality view and distance to the station is also displayed. I wonder who will save the most dollars using this app this year?
Car Finder (99-cents)
Cars aren't just about driving, there's parking too. If you've ever asked yourself, "Dude -- where's my car?", then there's an app to help with this, Car Finder.
Car Finder uses GPS to fix the position of your vehicle, which it shows on a map. If you are on a parking meter you can switch on a timer to receive an on-screen warning when the meter is about to expire. The app seems to work most accurately with the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4.
Alternatively, there's G-Park, (99-cents) which places a "pin" when you hit the Park Me button, then when you're ready to return to your car, press "Where Did I Park" and Google Maps provides turn-by-turn directions.
Bad stuff happens, and while all your friends and neighbors and law enforcement all know it is always the other driver's fault, iWrecked can even help the guilty.
What iWrecked offers comprises a set of tools you can use in the event of an accident, including accident detail logs, image capture and archiving using the iPhone camera, the creation of accident reports for your insurance company and more. There's even the capability to find taxis, towing firms, emergency services and more. Though (as user reviews inform us: don't forget to hit the save button).
While you're at it, do make sure you have the free AAA Roadside app installed on your iPhone before using..
So you need to get some repairs done -- you may want some advice on estimates and the like. No problem, the RepairPal app from the website of the same name is here.
This gives you accurate estimates for many jobs by car make/model, helps you locate repair shops (and check user-submitted reviews) and find roadside help.
In brief: RepairPal will help you figure out the difference between a price-gouging mechanic and a true knight of the road!
Accidents happen. Make sure you're on ICE. In the event of an accident, parmedics and hospital staff will often look at a patient's phone to see if there's an ICE (In Case of Emergency) number there.
An app like this can help. It lets you record a message with the most critical medical information that plays immediately upon opening the app or at the push of a "PLAY' button. Use it to note useful information such as allergies or blood group type for you and the family. You can store your medical insurance informaton too.
Pocket First Aid & CPR ($3.99)
Sick of being a spectator during an emergency? Knowledge is power. Download this app, explore it when you get a moment and get the knowledge you need to help if someone gets sick while you're on the road, or the appropriate response to save the life of a road accident victim.
Put together by the American Heart Association, Pocket First Aid & CPR includes video, image and text-based guides to help you provide help while you await the emergency services.
Magellan RoadMate, Navigon Mobile Navigator, TomTom, AT&T Navigator (prices vary)
All these apps turn your iPhone into a hugely effective GPS travel navigator. I still wonder if Apple could undercut this market simply be delivering its very own travel navigation app.
"AT&T Navigator transforms your iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 4 into a voice-guided navigation system with turn-by-turn driving directions. (AT&T Navigator is currently not supported on the iPad.) A subscription charge will appear on your AT&T wireless bill. You can choose between monthly or annual subscription options."
"Get the TomTom navigation app and have smart, easy-to-use, turn-by-turn navigation on your iPhone or iPod touch, whenever and wherever you need it. Seamless navigation while calling, new, updated maps, background navigation instructions, and route sharing."
"With the NAVIGON MobileNavigator you can transform your iPhone into a fully functional mobile navigation system that is every bit as good as the multi-award-winning personal navigation devices from NAVIGON in terms of its user-friendliness and features."
"With Magellan's Premium Car Kit with built-in GPS receiver (sold separately), transform your iPhone and even iPod touch into turn-by-turn GPS navigator with spoken street names. The Magellan RoadMate App for iPhone and iPod touch uses the same easy-to-use interface as our dedicated personal navigation devices. Best of all, the Magellan App is a one-time purchase with no subscription or monthly fees."
I hope these apps will help make your driving experience a little easier this season and for the months ahead. if you've come across any others you think might be useful for yourself or other drivers, please let everybody know in comments below. To keep up with this blog, please follow me on Twitter, and get these reports when they first get published on Computerworld.