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Best Android apps for the prepared road warrior

April 27, 2012

Back in the day, frequent travelers had to rely on dull maps, vague telephone directories, and old hotel brochures to fulfill their traveling needs. Now, all one needs is an Android device and the power of the Google Play Store to get all kinds of handy apps that can assist a road warrior or a road ninja on his or her journey.

If you travel frequently and you own an Android device, then the apps below are worth checking out. This compilation is meant to assist frequent travelers in finding locations and to give guidance for variable factors on the go, like speed limits.

This app can help you fulfill two basic traveling needs: finding a gas station and saving money. While there are a number of Android apps that help in locating gas stations by specific companies, the nearby gas station may not always be from, say, a company like Shell. Furthermore, such apps do not take into account the discount that one may get from a specific gas station.

SmartGas Free focuses on providing information about cheap gas stations and helps calculate the round trip cost of driving to a nearby gas station. The gas prices are updated regularly. Other than traveling, this app can also be used to find cheap gas stations on a daily basis, as sometimes traveling half a kilometer extra may provide you with cheaper fuel that may be worth the trip.

It is also worth mentioning here that the free version of SmartGas is ad-supported, however you can remove ads by using the SmartGas Pro version, which costs US$1.99.

Sometimes one can end up short of cash and require locating an ATM. Or, perhaps, finding a restaurant to have lunch at before getting back on the road.  Nearby Place Finder is nothing short of a blessing for any traveling enthusiast. It helps users find anything from an ATM, hospital, restaurant, hotel, library, to an airport, petrol pump, and other useful places.

The good thing about Nearby Place Finder is that it also allows you to edit your location via a ZIP code, city, or state name, which can help find places in other areas. This can be helpful to find places in areas that you are planning to visit. Furthermore, you can also use this app to help out friends or family members who may call you for finding an ATM, hotel or other places. Users can even acquire contact information like phone numbers of specific places and see maps via Google Maps.

Sometimes when you’re looking for a specific place, a simple map just isn’t enough. Many a time, maps can be quite generic and confusing, which results in being unable to find a place when it’s right next to you.

A solution to this dilemma is the Street View on Google Maps app. This application takes you to the next level of locating a place on a map by using a street view. It serves as a virtual trip around the globe as you can explore any landmark or place that you are planning to visit and locate places by exploring a 360-degree street image.

Viewing a street image can be much easier than viewing maps, as an image can help you identify nearby shops and signs that lead to your desired destination. Moreover, as Google Street View shows places from a number of locations worldwide, there is no restriction of a specific country or city for finding places. Nonetheless, famous cities and towns are more likely to be available in Google Street View than less-known ones. For this reason, you may not find a street view for certain areas.

As the Internet has become more of a need rather than a luxury — (Did you buy an Android just for calls?) — it has become necessary to stay connected to the Internet as often as possible. Whether it be to access the Google Play Store, check emails, or  watch videos on YouTube, Internet connectivity is constantly required.

However, one of the biggest challenges that one can come across during traveling is to find a Wi-Fi hotspot. Wi-Fi Buddy Beta is a free Android application that acts as a Wi-Fi network scanner to locate available access points. The good thing about Wi-Fi Buddy Beta is that it makes it easy to find and connect to Wi-Fi networks. It keeps the Wi-Fi radio active when the mobile is idle, which also helps in saving battery life, while tracking Wi-Fi networks at the same time. Despite its nifty features, it must be noted that Wi-Fi Buddy is currently in its beta stage and therefore users may face some bugs.

One of the biggest considerations during traveling is the weather. You never know when you might be heading into a flood-affected zone, heavy rains, tornadoes, or something much worse. For this reason, it is good to have an app like AccuWeather for Android.

While there are a number of apps that provide accurate weather forecasts, AccuWeather does something more. It not only provides weather information but also gives users weather alarms for events such as rain, snow, thunderstorm, and the like. Furthermore, it provides customizable themes, social media options for sharing weather data, interactive maps via Google Maps, and severe weather warnings.  The information is available in 23 languages. Users also get weather news and videos in both English and Spanish languages.

Another advantage of this app is that there is no limit to the number of locations that you wish to store for gaining weather information, including 10 favorite locations. On the whole, AccuWeather for Android is your complete package for gaining in-depth weather information to help you plan your trips.

Many road accidents often occur due to cell phones, which includes text messages. While one can use a hands-free device for taking calls while driving (depending upon the driving restrictions in your area), the same cannot be said for text messages.

Text’nDrive Drive Safely w SMS is a unique application that resolves this problem.  It enables users to get text messages read out to them during driving and allows them to reply back via voice commands.

Text’nDrive Drive Safely w SMS has both a free and paid version. The free version has certain limitations such as reading of text messages up to 45 words, whereas the pro version liberates you from such restrictions.

Other than text messages, you can also read emails from Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, and other services. The pro version costs US$9.99 and has enough features to help you avoid the temptation of reading an unlimited number of SMS and emails on the go.

There is nothing more annoying than a car break down in the middle of nowhere. AAA Roadside is a useful application for frequent travelers who may need getting instant help in case of a car break down by sending their location and vehicle information to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

With the help of this application, users are able to send out their location details via their Android device, instead of waiting for a confirmation call from AAA that their vehicle information was accurately received. This ensures a quicker response from a nearby roadside technician with just a few taps on your cellphone.

Moreover, you can also acquire information regarding automobile repair shops nearby. The only downside of this app is that it does not function on a global scale and is restricted to regions supported by AAA. However, that is understandable as it is an AAA-specific app and collecting global information about automobile repair shops without a centralized body in place isn’t the easiest thing to do. Thus, the app is pretty useful but only for people who can benefit from AAA.

If you are the kind of traveler who likes going on long journeys on a motorbike, then BikeLaws is a must-have app for you. Since bike laws vary from state to state, one can easily get into trouble with a traffic sergeant due to lack of knowledge regarding the laws of a specific state.

BikeLaws has been designed for U.S. bike riders so they can easily check the bike laws of a specific state in order to avoid getting into trouble with the law. Sounds dramatic doesn’t it? BikeLaws is almost as good as free as it costs merely US$0.99, which can be a lot less than what a traffic violation penalty may cost you.

Obviously, one may feel that there should be more of these kinds of apps for not just bikers in the U.S. but  for people worldwide. Perhaps Google can come up with a Google Map-style service that helps travelers on the go to identify inter-state and global driving rules.

Unlike Bike Laws, Here I am 2 is more helpful for people using all kind of vehicles. It uses the Google Maps service and enables users to let others know their current location. This app can be used to send SMS or email messages containing your current coordinates. The link sent by the app can be opened within an Android or iPhone Map application for acquiring driving directions.

There are a number of advantages that one can get from this app, including sending out your location to friends or family members to help them easily catch up to you during a journey. If you have ever been left behind on a road trip from your caravan or have had problems catching up with your buddies in a journey when you left late, then this app is definitely for you. It circumvents the problem of relying on sketchy directions that you may otherwise have to rely on from others and can be used as a more reliable alternative for getting the directions for the location of your friends and family members. Here I am 2 has a free version, as well as an ads-free pro version worth US$0.99.

SpeedView is perhaps the most amazing app that any road warrior can have. Among the many extraordinary features that it has to offer, it works as an advanced speedometer that uses your phone’s GPS to deliver speed limit information, distance traveled, and many other useful features such a reflection of your speed which is reflected on your car’s screen.

As the GPS speedometer is used from your mobile phone, it is more accurate than the one present in your car. The compass mode of this application provides you with your present direction, a speed graph of your journey, speed warnings and HUD mode that helps you reflect your speed on your car screen.

SpeedView also has a free version and pro version worth US$0.99. The only problem with this app is that it is not currently usable with 7-inch tablets. According to the developer, it might install but will not display properly. Furthermore, you will also have to keep an eye on your GPS accuracy as it may alter results.

SpeedView is not just for people using vehicles like cars or motorcycles, but can also be used during hiking, walking, jogging, etc.

While the above apps may serve as a good starting package for preparing road warriors for their journey, there are many other apps that can help traveling enthusiasts. Do you know of a good app for road warriors?