Breakdown Lane: Up-Close Mobile App Inspection

Breakdown Lane

Breakdown Lane
  • What is it? Finds the nearest mechanic and guides you through common roadside repairs
  • Price: $1.99
  • Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices with iOS 3.2 or later
  • Info: Click here

If you're ever stuck by the side of the road, the Tappet brothers might make the experience less painful. With Car Talk's Breakdown Lane app, you can use your iOS device to find the nearest repair shop from Car Talk's database of 30,000 garages. But the app doesn't stop there.

By Dave Lee | August 24, 2012 | Comments (0)

MapQuest 3.0: Up-Close Mobile App Inspection


  • What is it? MapQuest brings traditional turn-by-turn navigation into the car with voice guidance, quick destination input and points-of-interest markers
  • Price: Free
  • Platforms: iOS 4.3 or higher; Android 1.6 or higher; BlackBerry and Windows phones
  • Info: www.

App-based navigation systems are an excellent alternative to portable GPS devices and pricey in-car setups. With dozens of different navigation applications on the iOS and Android markets, which one works the best? A newer version of MapQuest's free app (see our review of the 2.0 version here) has been released, now with voice navigation. How does it measure up?

By Robby DeGraff | July 25, 2012 | Comments (4)

Up-Close Mobile App Inspection: iOnRoad


  • What is it? A smartphone solution for vehicles without collision detection systems.
  • Price: Free
  • Platforms: Android 2.2 and higher; iOS version coming soon
  • Info:

Yes, you can have a collision warning system for your car in the palm of your hand instead of an expensive option package. The iOnRoad application uses your smartphone's camera and some fancy algorithms to detect cars in front of you and beep if you approach too closely. Is it a workable substitute for the real thing? Read on to find out.

By Dave Lee | May 10, 2012 | Comments (0)

Gas Buddy: Up-Close Mobile App Inspection


Gas Buddy

  • What is it? Gas Buddy allows users to report gas prices at fueling stations across the United States and Canada.
  • Price: Free
  • Platforms: iOS 3.0 or higher; Android 1.5 or higher; BlackBerry and Windows phones.
  • Info:

With the national average price of gas hovering around $4 a gallon, it helps to know where you can find the lowest price. Gas Buddy allows users to report prices at stations across the country. But how reliable is the info when you're ready to fill up?

By Dave Lee | April 17, 2012 | Comments (1)

Vlingo: Up-Close Mobile App Inspection


  • What is it? Voice-to-text assistant that lets you speak phone, text and navigation commands.
  • Price: Free (with ads)
  • Platforms: Android 2.0.1 or higher; iOS 4.0 or higher
  • Info:

I’ve always wished that my 2008 Toyota sedan had some kind of multimedia functionality, so I was excited to try Vlingo, which integrates phone, text, navigation and other functions into a single voice-controlled application. As you might guess, Vlingo draws many comparisons to Apple’s Siri. Is it a worthy alternative? Read on to find out.

By Dave Lee | March 20, 2012 | Comments (9)

Road Ninja: Up-Close Mobile App Inspection

Road Ninja Road Ninja
  • What is it? A location-based app that finds food, lodging and other attractions at upcoming interstate exits.
  • Price: Free
  • Platforms: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch; requires iOS 4.2 or later
  • Info:

Road Ninja is designed to show what points of interest lay ahead at upcoming freeway exits. Think of it as a virtual “At This Exit” sign with food, lodging and other highway stops illustrated on a crisp smartphone screen instead of a dingy sign on the side of the road – which you can easily miss if among semitrailers.

What distinguishes it from other location-based applications is it is designed only to display what destinations are ahead of you as you travel, as opposed to what’s surrounding (or even behind) you. Once you select a place, you can dial its number, fetch directions, write a review or even read its Twitter feed. Road Ninja also lets you search for destinations and browse what’s nearby, and you can keep a list of your favorite spots.

By Dave Lee | February 20, 2012 | Comments (2)

MyFord Touch Gets Upgrade


Ford has upgraded its MyFord and MyLincoln Touch systems to be faster and simpler to use, according to the automaker.

Prominent differences are simpler graphics and larger, bolder fonts used throughout the interface. We have images of the old and new screens below. It might be hard to judge if the newer versions are indeed an upgrade until people actually use them. What you can’t see is a noticeable jump in performance. The new software is at least two times faster than the current system, Ford says.

The upgraded system will launch early next year on the 2013 Ford Escape, Flex and Taurus. Existing owners of MyFord and MyLincoln Touch are eligible for upgrade at no charge.

By Colin Bird | November 6, 2011 | Comments (2)

Motorola H17txt Review: Headset Reads Texts

We’ve spent a lot of time on KickingTires on the topic of distracted driving. We even recently rated the best apps for reading text messages to you. But the latest headset from Motorola, the H17txt, does the same, and with amazing quality.

It costs $99 — a plain H17 headset without the text-to-speech ability costs around $40 — and you need to download the free MotoSpeak app for your Android or BlackBerry smart phone to use it. Once paired, I found the H17txt changed my perceptions about getting texts in the car.
By David Thomas | June 15, 2010 | Comments (1)

Voice-to-Text App Review: Nearly Hands-Free Texting

We have to preface this post with a small PSA: You should not text message while driving. You also shouldn’t apply makeup, read a novel or eat anything with a utensil while driving. While those and other unsafe habits aren’t directly policed, laws are being enacted nationwide to penalize texters who endanger others while using their phones in traffic.

That’s part of the reason why Dragon Dictation for the iPhone was created. The free app records what you say and converts it to text that’s copied to your phone’s clipboard for texting, emailing or even just saving for a later time.

Yes, it could have great applications for students and journalists for transferring someone else’s speech, but right now it is best used for short bursts of text, like text messages.

I tried the app for the past few days and was left beyond impressed with how well it worked.

By David Thomas | December 15, 2009 | Comments (1)

Magellan RoadMate Navigation: iPhone Review

The world of personal navigation devices is rapidly changing, and the big players are adding full-featured software applications for devices that don’t bear their names. Magellan is the latest to offer a serious navigation app for the iPhone. It’s not cheap, but it’ll make you shun those clunky nav units.

What We Like
Rapid auto-fill keypad, Points-of-interests lists are clear and customizable, Uses iPhone contacts, Screen clarity

What We Don’t

Huge file size, Slow-moving between screens, No traffic reports, Long loading time

Price: $79.99 for a limited time
By David Thomas | November 23, 2009 | Comments (0)

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