6 Best Driving Apps for iPhone, Android

NEW YORK ( Consumer Reports) -- The exploding market for applications on Google ( GOOG) Android phones, Research In Motion's ( RIMM) BlackBerry and Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone is a gold mine for developers and has resulted in a rich shopping experience for users looking to get the most out of their handheld computers.

The most interesting development in apps: those that read directions and e-mail aloud to drivers.

Several states have tough laws around driving and smartphone use. These new, useful applications meet the demands of folks who can't live -- and drive, apparently -- without their Android, Blackberry or iPhone. Many of these driving apps rely on GPS functions in the phones, which can be battery killers. As we have seen with battery life in the iPhone 4, HTC EVO for Sprint ( S) and the HTC Incredible for Verizon ( VZ), managing GPS and WiFi use will lead to better battery life.

Consumer Reports has compiled a great list of the best and most useful smartphone apps for drivers. The editors stress that motorists should not handle phones while driving, because it could create a distraction that jeopardizes safety for themselves and for others. Using a mobile phone while driving may have legal consequences as well.

Note: Consumer Reports has no relationship with the advertisers on this site.

Car Finder

Price: 99 cents.

Phone: iPhone.

Car Finder uses your phone's compass and GPS capability to mark the position of your car when you park, then it guides you back to the car later. It works in parking lots or city streets, but because it relies on the phone's GPS signal, it won't work in an indoor garage.

aCar

Price: Free.

Phone: Android.

Once you set it up by entering maintenance-schedule information from the car owner's manual, aCar reminds you when your car is due in the shop. It even reminds you when it's time for your car's annual inspection and it tracks fuel mileage and costs.

DriveSafe.ly

Price: Free, $13.95

Phones: BlackBerry and Android; coming for Phone, Palm (PALM) webOS.

The premium version of DriveSafe.ly reads e-mail and text messages aloud while you drive and can send out a response message saying you're unavailable. The premium version can handle messages of 500 words; the free one has a limit of 25 words per message.

iWrecked

Price: Free

Phone: iPhone

This simple program takes you through a list of what to do after a car crash, including recommending that you take photos of the scene and get contact and insurance information from other drivers. It will also dial 911 and locate the nearest police station, taxi, or tow-truck service to assist you.

RepairPal

Price: Free

Phones: iPhone; coming soon for Android.

RepairPal helps you find a repair shop and get estimates. If you break down, it will locate a tow truck. After you enter your car's make, model and other details, it will give a range of estimates in seconds. It also helps keep records and gives service reminders.

Magellan RoadMate, Navigon Mobile Navigator, TomTom

Price: $70-$80

Phones: Magellan and TomTom: iPhone; Navigon: iPhone and Windows Mobile.

Of the navigation apps CR tested, these stand out. All are easy to use and have features found on better portable GPS navigators. And all allow you to route to an address from your phone's contact list. But they're relatively expensive and require a separate mount -- and most new smartphones already come with free navigation capability.

More on Android
12 Must-Have Android Apps for 2010

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