5 Great Road-Trip Apps
Planning a summer drive? These five tools—vetted by T+L tech correspondent Tom Samiljan—will help you make the most of every mile.
FOR ON-ROAD ENTERTAINMENT TUNE IN RADIO You’re unlikely to get playlist fatigue listening to the app’s 100,000-plus radio stations from all over the world, but if you do, Tune In also offers streaming access to an inexhaustible number of concerts, podcasts, and talk shows on a clean, user-friendly interface. From NPR news updates to local traffic alerts and sports scores, this all-purpose radio app delivers in spades. (Free; Android, Blackberry, iOS, Windows Phone)
FOR GPS (AND MORE) SCOUT This app by mapping giant Telenav may be the most practical tool for road trippers: it finds the cheapest gas stations, dictates turn-by-turn directions at your request, and provides personalized recommendations (restaurants, hotels, even local concerts or events) along any multi-leg route. Bonus: the Arrival Guide feature (iOS only) points out the best parking options near your destination. (Free; Android, iOS)
FOR ITINERARY SUGGESTIONS GREATEST DRIVE Still charting the course of your drive? This app suggests the best road-trip itineraries nearby, annotating each with a summary, star rating, and user reviews. (It’ll also tell you whether a road is twisty, scenic, or likely to be traffic-plagued.) Can’t find what you’re looking for? Integration with Yelp helps you pick places to eat and things to see along the way. (Free; Android, iOS)
Related: Best Apps for Travelers
FOR HANDS-FREE SHARING GLYMPSE Texting and driving isn’t just dangerous—in most states, it’s illegal. That’s why Glympse, which automatically relays your GPS location to family and friends, is invaluable when you’re sticking to a schedule. Your information is sent only to predetermined contacts in your phone book, for select windows of time—making it easy to keep your eyes on the road. (Free; Android, iOS)
FOR QUIRKY ATTRACTIONS ROADSIDE AMERICA If you’re driving cross-country just for kicks, you might like to see Pittsburgh’s Robot Hall of Fame, or the world’s largest collection of teapots, in Trenton, Tennessee. The app also sheds light on the idiOSyncrasies of beloved attractions (historical monuments; parks; sports arenas)—10,000 venues in all. (From $2.99; iOS)
AUTO CONNECTION Thanks to new connected-car technology, your favorite mobile apps are now being optimized for in-dash touch screens. Carmakers from GM to Audi are introducing built-in apps, while initiatives by Apple (CarPlay) and the Android-focused Open Automotive Alliance are being integrated into select Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Volvo models, among others. What to expect: voice-activated Web search, OpenTable reservations booked from your car, and maps showing how far you can go at current gas levels.
TECH WATCH Meet the next generation of public Wi-Fi: Hotspot 2.0. These secure networks offer an automatic connection—simply walk within range and voilà, you’re online. Boingo subscribers can find them at 23 major U.S. airports; access is also available for Time Warner Cable customers coast-to-coast.