The 12 Best Car Apps That You Need Now

These days it seems like there is literally an app for everything. From games and entertainment to car maintenance and shopping, we have virtual access to everything with the simple a touch of a button on our phones. Apps make our everyday life a little easier and more fun, but what about apps that make owning a car, or driving a car, a little less painless?

The-12-Best-Car-Apps

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite car apps that make our lives a little easier. What are your favorite car apps?

The 12 Best Car Apps That You Need Now

    1. Waze: a live interactive map that helps you get to your destination. We love this app more than other map apps because it provides real-time updates and alerts for traffic, accidents, and road hazards. Waze crowdsources their data from all the drivers that use the app too so you feel a sense of community.

    2. PlugShare: a must-have app for electric car drivers. This app helps guide you to electric vehicle charging stations wherever you are. It has more than 30,000 charging locations ready to share with you across the US. If you are road tripping you can map out your trip and it will show you all the charging stations along the way. You can also share your charging station with other drivers to lend a helping *electric* hand.

    3. GasBuddy: you no longer need to drive around searching for the best gas price, because this app sources and shares all the gas prices near your location. The best part is that is reports the best price in your area with a touch of your finger. Additionally, if you are wondering how much a trip will cost you in gas, the app can calculate the total by entering your start and end city. Cheaper gas, here we come!

    4. Parkmobile: an easy way to pay for on-street or off-street parking. This is a must-have app, especially if you live in a city, because it allows you to pay by the hour or by the minute for parking. The best part is you don’t have to hunt for change to fill up the meter – you can do it all through your phone without even leaving your seat. Double bonus, you can reserve a parking spot ahead of time, which definitely comes in handy for the city-living lifestyle.

    5. Carvana: search for used cars from the convenience of your couch while lounging and binging Netflix. The Caravana app allows you to search for your next car by filtering your price range, your payment options, and by purchase type (sell or trade-in). The car you pick will even be delivered right to your house. Did we mention, all from the convenience of your couch?

    6. Openbay: get quotes for service or maintenance for your vehicle from nearby auto repair shops. We love that this app helps you comparison shop so that you can get the most bang for your buck. Openbay also assists with scheduling appointments and processing repair payments, so all you need to do is drop your car off and pick it back up. Making it so much easier to find, book, and pay for repairs.

    7. Audible: end boredom on long commutes. Mix it up a bit and listen to an audiobook. Created by Amazon, Audible requires a monthly membership, but that membership payment goes towards a credit for one audiobook.

    8. BestParking: a simple way to search for long-term parking when you are heading out of town. Just plug in your city or airport and your arrival and departure dates. The app will show you places to park your car and the total cost of parking during your trip. Genius!

    9. Nexar: an easy and inexpensive way to turn your phone into a dashcam for your car. All you need to do is place your phone on a car mount on your dashboard, somewhere that has a clear view of the road, then turn the app on. The app will automatically start to record what is happening on the road around you.

    10. Bravo: no cash to tip for valet? We’ve all been there. The Bravo app allows you to tip your valet attendant through their app so you can be on your merry way. Helping you save time, and face in front of the valet.

    11. Spotify: listen to awesome playlists or favorite tunes anytime, anywhere. Find millions of songs, discover new music or create your very own playlist. You can even share your playlist with your friends and family. Having your jams easily accessible makes any drive that much better.

    12. Metromile: the best tool to get stay connected with your car and insurance policy. Our smart driving app helps you track and optimize your trips, monitor your car’s health (aka: decodes check engine lights), find your missing car, and sends street sweeping alerts (in select cities). You can access your proof of insurance, file a claim, and request roadside assistance all with the tap of a button on your phone. You can even make changes to your policy directly in the app, so calling in and waiting on hold is a thing of the past!

Apps have taken over and they are making people’s lives easier, just like our smart driving app makes car insurance – and ownership- easier. We always have our customers in mind with all the features that are offered in the app. Since Metromile is pay-per-mile auto insurance our app lets you know how much your monthly bill will be based on your mileage, so you are always in control of how much you pay each month.

We’re revolutionizing the car insurance industry and if you’re ready for transparent pricing, and insurance that does more for drivers then get a free quote to see how much you could save with Metromile.

Kelsey Glynn is a blogger and owner of Social Graces, a business to support others in their social media needs. She is a contributing blog writer for East Valley Moms Blog, a social media content creator, and an avid photo taker. She is Metromile’s Senior Social Media Advocate and helps to maintain our online communities. You can catch her adventuring around AZ and living the mom life on Instagram.

Connected Life 101

From laptops to smart phones to wearable trackers, we’re always connected. In fact, one-fifth of Americans reported being online constantly – from scrolling through social media on their commute, to using the internet all day at work to ordering delivery from an app. We’ve shared some of our favorite connected devices below.

connected cars

Home: Wired security systems are a thing of the past. Nest has three products that make any home a smart home: a thermostat that adapts life and changing seasons, a smoke alarm that you can you can silence and diagnose from your phone, and a security camera you can access from your phone that tracks both motion and sound alerts.

Car: You don’t have to have a fancy car to have a smart car. Metromile’s smart driving app, available to pay-per-mile customers, unlocks driving data and gives drivers information about their trips, trends, fuel levels, car location and more. It has even helped recover stolen cars! The Metromile app can also diagnose check engine lights. Find more information about Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance offering or get a free quote here.

Eats: From getting groceries delivered through Instacart, meal prep delivered via Blue Apron, or your favorite restaurant through Postmates, getting food fast at home is simple. Eatsa, available in San Francisco and L.A., is connecting you to a simple healthy meal when you want to go out! You can order via their mobile app, or via iPad in their restaurant.

Exercise: No time to hit the yoga studio? Many studios offer online classes, like yogisanonymous.com. With a laptop and a yoga mat, you could be on your way to a sweet savasana. And if you haven’t joined the wearables crowd, try a Fitbit fitness tracker! Not only can you count your steps and stairs climbed, you can challenge your friends to see who can walk more in a week!

For more on how technology makes our life our life easier, check out this blog post.

Must download apps for a last minute road trip

Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner, but if you don’t have plans yet, it’s not too late to plan a getaway. Thanks to technology, hopping in the car for a last minute road trip is no big deal. We’ve gathered a list of the apps you must download before you drive off.

Use Airbnb to find accommodations along your route. You can book directly from your phone and find something in your budget. Whether you are looking to couch surf or rent a beach house, all the options are available for you.

Make your car a smart car with Metromile. With the Metromile app, you can decode check engine lights on the road. If something comes up, you’ll know if you need to hurry in or if you just left your gas cap off.

Find unique roadside stops with Roadtrippers app. You can set a distance off the road you are willing to explore, and the app does the rest. You can also use this to map to your destination or try Waze to keep you alert of traffic, accidents and other roadblocks.

Ear candy: Download the Podcasts app to tune into your favorite podcast on the road. We’ve suggested some of our favorite podcasts here.

Cut costs by finding the cheapest gas through Gas Buddy, which locates gas stations near you and syncs their current gas prices.

If you don’t drive very often during the week, but love to road trip on the weekends, you could save a ton of money on pay-per-mile insurance with Metromile. You won’t be charged for miles you drive over 250/day (150 in certain states), so if you go on a long trip, you’ll actually save big. Get a free quote here.

Smart Driving: Tips to Keep Your Eyes on The Road

Did you know that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month? There is a time and place for Snapchatting your friends, but it’s not when you’re behind the wheel. With new and exciting technology, it has become more and more tempting to take your eyes off the road.

smart driving

While distracted driving comes in many forms, cell phone use is at the top. The below tips will help you keep your eyes on the road.

  1. Get clear on where you are going before you depart. Don’t wait until you are halfway down the block to set your destination address. Waze, a navigation app, can detect motion and confirms if the driver or passenger is the one using the phone.
  2. Put your phone in the backseat where you can’t reach it. If you think you’ll still be tempted to reach around, turn off your sound and notifications so you won’t feel the digital pull. Even better, turn your phone off!
  3. Download DriveMode from AT&T. When enabled, you can customize an auto-reply that will respond to all incoming messages.
  4. Ask passengers to respond to any texts you’re worried about missing.
  5. Don’t rely on Bluetooth and voice commands. These commands can still be distracting and take your attention off the road.

Drivers aren’t just “texting and driving anymore,” they are distracted by every smart aspect of their phone. Don’t put yourself in danger either – speak up if you’re in the car with someone who is distracted while driving. Safe travels!

Metromile Just Made It Even Easier to Save Money

Here at Metromile, we’re all about providing a more fair and affordable insurance option for low-mileage drivers, but we don’t stop at just helping our customers save money. We also have a smart driving app that takes the hassle out of car ownership, with useful features like a car locator and street sweeping alerts (in select cities). Now, we are giving customers an even easier way to save with a new billing feature, which tracks mileage costs throughout the month.

save money

The inspiration for this feature came from our loyal customers. Since Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance model is unique in that the monthly bill is based on mileage, pricing can change from month-to-month depending on how much is driven. Many of our customers said that they would find ways to drive less if they could track their bill throughout the month. That’s exactly what this new feature will allow them to do. Now, customers can see how each mile they drive affects how much they pay. By keeping tabs on monthly mileage, it’s easier than ever to stay in control of how much customers pay (and save).

If you are a Metromile customer, the new Billing feature is simple to use. Open our app and you will see the new Billing card appear on the overview screen, giving a quick glance at your charges to-date. You can then click to drill in deeper and see the breakdown of your current bill, as well as previous bills.

If you have an idea of how Metromile’s app could be even more helpful, don’t hesitate to drop us a line. You can reach us at appfeedback@metromile.com. Happy driving!

Metronome Safety Precautions

In today’s era of the “connected car”, various devices, specifically OBD-II readers, are in the market touting ways to make your driving life easier. Just because they all plug into the same port doesn’t mean they all do the same things.

Most log miles, monitor fuel consumption, and decode to “check engine” lights. The differences come in the other features provided by each company. Whereas others assess driving behavior and give users a score of judgement, Metromile doesn’t bother with this type of scrutiny. We focus on using measured miles to deploy pay-per-mile insurance; your behavior is not tracked at all by the device to determine risk. We also provide street sweeping alerts (in San Francisco and Chicago) so drivers can avoid those costly tickets.

Software programs (firmware) enable these feature differences, and like any software, security precautions can be put in place to safeguard the integrity of information and prevent abuse.

Recently, telematics devices from Progressive and Zubie have come under scrutiny for being susceptible to being exploited because they rely on unsigned firmware updates being downloaded in the clear.

With Progressive specifically, researchers at Florida-based Digital Bond Labs say they have uncovered major problems the SnapShot device that Progressive Insurance uses to measure the driving habits of participating customers. By reverse-engineering the device, they gained access to a network that allows control of critical vehicle functions, like steering, braking and throttle inputs. The SnapShot device has been used in more than two million vehicles since 2008 – that makes a lot of cars open to hacking.

We’ve been asked if a similar loophole exists in our security protocol and we want to reiterate that, at Metromile, we take the security of our products and services very seriously. Our telematics device, the Metronome, is not susceptible to the type of exploits tested on Progressive’s SnapShot device since both firmware and configuration updates to the Metronome are done via encrypted channels and all downloaded artifacts are digitally signed.

Connected telematics devices such as our Metronome are powerful because data is accessed to measure and simplify many aspects of driving and owning a car. We firmly believe in implementing security protocols to ensure the safety of your personal data and defend against any attacks.

For questions please visit our help center.

Trip Categories & Labels

Organizing and understanding your trips just got a whole lot more awesome.

We’re happy to introduce NEW Trip features: categories & labels!

END-POINT LABELS

The names for your start and end points can now be customized to whatever you’d like – e.g. Home, Work, Gym. Gone are vague city locations – you can now label your trip origins and destinations to words that make more sense to you! After all, we live to make your driving life easier!

1. Start by tapping on the city name (each end-point is lightly underlined)

2. Type in your custom label for the location. When you first start, there won’t be any choices, however, In the future, you’ll be able to choose from the list you’ve built. There is no maximum on how many locations you can store. 

3. Tap on “Apply” to set the label for that place. Going forward, the Metromile app will remember these named locations and automatically label for you. You can edit at any time (also under Settings), and the app will adjust to these new changes. 

 

CATEGORIES

Not all trips are created equal right? Some are for work while others are for fun. You can tag your trips with a category and filter just for these specific names. We supply 5 categories to start: Business, Commute, Errand, Leisure, Road Trip. You can change these any time to categories that help you organize all your trips or add completely new categories. Maybe you’ll want Fitness, Volunteering, or Carpool?

1. Tap on the icon of a tag (if it’s unnamed, it’ll say “add category”)

2. Choose one of the pre-existing categories by tapping on the white circle. Or add your own by tapping on “add new category” at the bottom of the list. You can also edit your choices from Settings.

3. Hit “Apply” and the category will be added for that individual trip.

CATEGORY FILTERS

1. To filter trips, tap on the gray funnel icon at the top of the Trips screen.

2. Select your choices from the right side. (You can also edit your list from Settings.)

3. Tap “Apply” at the bottom of the list or just tap outside of the menu. The funnel icon turns green when a filter is applied.

ENJOY! We hope these new features help you plan and optimize your trips better. Maybe you’ll notice some low-mileage trips and decide to bike or walk instead. Or you’ll finally figure out the best time to leave for work in the morning to avoid sitting in traffic! We’d love to hear about your experiences.

Let us know what you think! Feel free to leave comments or email us at appfeedback@metromile.com.

Settings & Sharing update on Android

Our Android app now has Settings & Sharing!

What cool features are included?

1. Set notifications for street sweeping and DTCs (diagnostic trouble codes) in 3 ways: push alerts via the app, SMS, and email.

2. Set your preferred fuel type* for more accurate Fuel Cost calculations.

3. Request a data export via the app; the CSV file will then be available for download in your online dashboard.

4. Add a photo of your beloved car under Settings.

5. Your VIN* (vehicle identification number) will show in Settings if available (about 60% of cars will be able to share this via the OBDII port).

6. Sharing! You can share just about everything from the app: Trips, Street Sweeping alerts, DTCs, Car Location, potential Insurance Savings, and the app itself. Just look for the sharing symbol in the upper right corner.

In case our iOS users didn’t know, these features are all available on our iOS app too.

Update your Android app to version 1.1.1 today!

* Not all car makes/models may have this info (varies by manufacturer)

 

Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, OBD!

A little bit of OBDII history:  just what is an OBDII port and what does it do?

If your car was built after 1996 and has a gasoline engine, chances are high that it has an OBDII port. But what is its purpose, beside being what devices like Metromile’s Metronome are plugged into?

Metromile's Metronome plugs into your car's OBDII port and helps keep your car in tip top shape.

The OBD, or on-board diagnostics, port began as a way to measure a vehicle’s emissions. California, in particular, wanted a way to combat the growing issue of smog, so in 1966 they began to require emissions testing in all vehicles. This requirement gradually became adopted nationwide in 1968.

In 1988, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) passed a requirement that all vehicles sold in the state include on-board diagnostics. This first port would become known as the OBDI. If your car was made before 1996, you likely have the OBDI. Not sure if your car has an OBDI or OBDII? Here are three ways you can find out.

Flash forward almost a decade to 1996, when all new vehicles nationwide were required to include the OBDII. This next-generation of diagnostics had evolved from emissions testing to monitoring other performance-related aspects of the car, like the engine and chassis.

Here’s how the OBDII works:

  • Your car has a Powertrain Control Module (PCM) that constantly monitors the engine. If it detects a problem, like excessive oil consumption, your ‘Check Engine’ or service light will come on and remain on until the issue is resolved.

  • A repair technician can connect a scanner to the OBDII port, download your car’s data, confirm a diagnosis and start on the necessary repairs or resolution.

Check out this article to see when the OBDII was added to specific makes and models. For most vehicles, the port is located underneath the steering wheel.

The OBDII helps provide transparency into key operational features of your car so that you can make every effort to keep your vehicle in the best possible shape. Even with the amount of data provided, you should always make sure to stay up-to-date with your car’s maintenance schedule. Don’t delay changing your oil or overlook a Check Engine light that stays on.

If you have Metromile’s Metronome, then you already know how the OBDII can help you identify ways to keep your car at peak performance. Our Metromile app will decode those DTC’s (diagnostic trouble code) and even let you know the severity level. If you have any questions, you can click on the “Ask a Mechanic” button to ask our on-staff mechanic for advice. The app will pre-populate an email with those DTC’s so you won’t have to write them all down. You can also use our Sharing capability to send those DTC’s to your own mechanic directly (via Twitter, Facebook, SMS, and email).

Compatibility with OBDII devices can vary across manufacturers. We wish all car makes and models could magically be compatible with our Metronome! Until specs change, we won’t always be able to provide data for all car brands (check our site for any updates).

Wondering about security? The Metronome device pulls data in real-time from your car and transmits directly to Metromile’s secure data servers. The info is not sent directly to your mobile device. Rather, we make the data available in easy-to-interpret graphs and charts in 2 places:  our app (iOS & Android) and our web-based dashboard (log-in at metromile.com). In effect, data transfer is really only happening one way: from the Metronome device to Metromile secure servers. There is no danger of data going into the vehicle itself.

The OBDII is a great example of the evolution vehicles have gone through over the decades. What began as a way to test emissions has evolved into the portal for mechanics and drivers to obtain data about cars and fix potential problems. For Metromile, the OBDII is how we have unleashed the awesome amount of data to make driving less of a headache and enable drivers to make savvier decisions.

Want to read more? Check out this article’s sources: OBD II Background; Wikipedia; EPA.gov; CNET, “A Brief Intro to OBD-II technology” 

We’re shaking things up in California!

We’re thrilled to announce that pay-per-mile insurance is now available in California, joining Washington, Oregon, and Illinois. Check out this great new video that explains how Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance works:* 

Did you know that, on average, a California driver only logged around 8,500 miles in 2011?** That means most people in the state would be great candidates to save – per-mile insurance is an economical option for those who drive fewer than 10,000 miles per year.

Visit our site to learn more and even get a quote!

Be sure to check out the latest and greatest on our app too – we’ve released some awesome new features:

  • Ask a Mechanic:  If you have any questions about the health alerts of your car, you can now directly contact our very own mechanic from within the app.
  • Speed Tracking: We added an overlay for speed by trip so you can see how fast you were going.
  • Gas Customization: We get it – there are 3 octane levels for fuel out there, and now you can enter the type you use to better estimate gas costs. The price of gas is based on the average price in your zip code.

As always, many more fun(ctional) things to come!

 

* Prices shown in video are examples only. Exact monthly rate and per-mile rate vary based on driver history, car’s make and model, and other additional factors.

** ”Moving Off the Road | A State-by-State Analysis of the National Decline in Driving”, Phineas Baxandall, US PIRG, August 2013