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?

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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.

Tips for a Drama Free Valet

Picture this: you’ve cruised around the block a few times looking for parking, but you’re going to be late for your dinner reservation if you don’t park your car soon. You notice a parking valet but have no idea what to do. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone, which is why we’ve compiled some tips for you to get through valet parking drama free. Often times, especially in larger cities, valet parking can be faster and more affordable than street parking or parking in a parking garage.

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Tip in cash. Many people avoid valet parking because they’re unsure of how much to tip. Even if the hotel or restaurant you’re at offers complimentary valet service, have cash on hand for a tip. It’s expected you tip the valet that retrieves your car but you’re entrusting your vehicle with a stranger so leave the valet who takes your car at drop off an unexpected tip as well. If they feel they’ve been treated well, they’re likely to take better care of your items. $2-$5 is pretty standard so expect to tip $4-$10 total for valet parking.
Tidy up and tuck away valuables. Anticipate that you might end up valet parking and clean your car up a little bit so that you’re not embarrassed to hand over the keys. If you have valuables in the car, leave them at home, or tuck them in the trunk or out of sight. Make sure you have everything you’re going to need before you get out of the car!
Know how to handle the drop-off. Drop off and pick up moves quickly, so pay attention to the valet instructions and drive safely and slowly. Leave the car running and don’t take your keys out of the ignition. Let the valet know if there are any problems with the car and confirm price, closing time and how to get your car back. Lastly, don’t leave your car until you’ve been given a claim ticket!
Pick up and pay. It can take 10-20 minutes for the valet to get your vehicle. Always consider calling ahead, especially if you’re at a hotel or a busy restaurant or if you have to be somewhere at a specific time. When you’re ready to leave, find the valet stand and pay your bill. Sometimes hotels will charge your room bill but the head valet will confirm. If it’s complimentary, just don’t forget to tip for service!
Check for damage. In the rush to leave, don’t forget to check for damage or missing valuables before you drive away! If you see any damage or notice any lost items, let the head valet know immediately. Most valet companies will cover these situations but it’s much harder to get compensation if you don’t notice until you are home.

Having trouble finding your car or want to check in to see where it’s parked? Use Metromile’s car location tracker to find your car. Metromile’s smart driving app gives you information on trips and trends, fuel levels, car health diagnoses and more, and is free for all of our pay-per-mile insurance customers. Learn more here!

Your Car’s Been Towed. Now What?

If your car is missing, you’ll want to think through all of the possibilities. Are you sure this is where you left your car? Could it have been stolen? Was it towed? Follow these steps to get your car back as soon as possible.

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Where’s my car? Check your surroundings for restricted parking signs or indicators that your car may have been towed. If you think you were unfairly towed, be sure to take pictures of the signs. If the signs indicate no parking with a phone number listed, try that number first. If not, try calling the local police department or visit their website.

Some reasons your car could have been towed are blocking a fire hydrant, parking in a “red zone” or “tow zone”, parking in a handicap spot or having unpaid parking violations.

What you’ll need: Once you have located your car, you’ll want to pick it up as soon as possible. Typically, you’ll be responsible for the towing and storage fees, so you don’t want to leave your car there for too long. When you go pick up your car, be sure to bring your driver license, a copy of registration and insurance. You’ll also want to take cash, just in case the lot doesn’t accept credit cards or checks.

Ask questions: Make sure to understand why your car was towed, and read the paperwork you have to sign thoroughly.

Metromile pay-per-mile customers have access to tracking their car’s location and can view it via their Metromile smart driving app. If you’re interested in the smart driving features that are part of Metromile insurance, get a free quote here.

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.

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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.

Stolen Car Check List

Your car is missing, now what? To help you tackle this tough situation, familiarize yourself with these important tips to recovering your car.

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Think through all of the possibilities. Did you accidentally park in a fire zone? Did you park on the street last night instead of in your normal garage spot? Could your car have been towed for any reason?

Call the police. If your car is missing, you’ll need to file a police report. Make sure to have a description of your car on hand, including make/model/color, VIN, license plate number and any distinctive marks or dents that may help identify the car.

Notify your insurance company. This will help protect you should there be any damage to the car that occurred during the theft. If your car is leased, be sure to notify the lender from whom you purchased the vehicle.

If your car is recovered, notify your insurance company immediately to avoid any delays in resolving the claim.

If you are a pay-per-mile car insurance customer, the Metromile Pulse device can track your car’s location and you can view it on the Metromile app. The Pulse has been used to recover stolen cars in the past! If your car has been stolen, be sure to still follow the steps above and give that tracking information to the police – don’t go tracking your car down on your own. For information on preventing theft, read our tips here.

If you are interested in the location tracking the Metromile Pulse has, you’ll love the other features it offers, such as street sweeping alerts and check engine light diagnostics! For more information and to get a free quote, visit metromile.com/insurance.

Metromile Brings Pay-per-mile Car Insurance to New Jersey

Driving in New Jersey is expensive. In fact, it’s the fifth most expensive state to own a car in! Residents of the Garden State – you’re in luck because we’re here to make car ownership more affordable. Metromile is bringing the first and only pay-per-mile car insurance offering to New Jersey, so if you don’t drive much, you likely won’t have to pay much for car insurance.

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With this revolutionary pricing model, your monthly bill will be determined by the miles you drive each month*. That means that the less you drive, the less you pay. On average, we are saving our low-mileage customers $500 annually. An increasing number of New Jerseyans are choosing to ride bikes, take trains or buses, or even walk instead of drive, so we expect to see a lot of people that will save money with per-mile insurance. Here at Metromile, we like to think of ourselves as the “uninsurance” company, making car ownership easy and affordable for low-mileage drivers.

We also alleviate many of the hassles of car ownership with our free smart driving app, which we just totally redesigned and gave a fresh coat of paint. Features include the ability to locate a missing car, view trip details, and decode those pesky check engine lights. The key to all of this is the Metromile Pulse, a device given to all per-mile insurance customers that plugs into the car’s OBD-II port to deliver useful data and insights.

New Jersey marks the third state on the East Coast where Metromile’s per-mile insurance is offered, and joins California, Illinois, Washington, Oregon, Virginia and Pennsylvania. We have more planned for 2016, so sign up for our waitlist to get notified when we arrive in your state!

*Insurance rates are determined by driving history and record, car make and model. Mileage does not determine the base rate or per-mile rate.

Introducing Metromile’s Redesigned Smart Driving App

We made some major upgrades to our smart driving app, so we asked our Director of Product Design, Matt Stein, to share the inspiration behind everything.

I’m excited to see the newly redesigned Metromile app in the wild today, now available on iOS and Android. The primary goals of the redesign were to create a foundation that could be built on in the future, delight our growing user base, and provide the best experience possible for getting a holistic view of everything to do with your car.

A key component of the redesign process was understanding how the current app was being used. We ran a focused qualitative user study as well as a broader quantitative survey to give insight into what was working well and what could be improved. The primary theme was that our users want to have peace of mind about their car. They want to know where they last parked, what an engine light means, and the ability to dig into the details on a recent trip.

The Metromile app can be used by either our per-mile insurance customers or people who use the free app version. The app will track your trips, show you where you’re parked and alert you to street sweeping (select cities). For insurance customers, it decodes engine code warnings and allows them to contact our in-house mechanic.

All of the aforementioned features are fairly distinct, and one of the challenges in designing the app was coming up with a consistent pattern for the user to consume information, such as viewing trips, decoding warnings, or understanding how to get roadside assistance.

The following three principles guided the design:

  1. Create a scalable framework
  2. Provide information at a glance
  3. Make it fun

Create a scalable framework.

The app itself is split across four distinct areas: Car Health, Parking, Trips and Insurance. These four areas are displayed on the app’s main view via separate cards that allow the user to drill into a more detailed view. Because most of the app’s features are distinct and don’t overlap (e.g. Trips won’t overlap with Car Health), this design choice gave us the most flexibility when considering new product capabilities. Although our app contains a hamburger menu, it is mostly supplementary because 80% of the app’s functionality can be accessed through the overview. Settings and vehicle switching are the two exceptions.

One of the biggest challenges was ensuring the same design framework could be used across each view. After exploring various options, the team arrived at a card pattern that is fairly prevalent today. Users understand how to interact with cards, and they are easily accessible. Each of the primary views has a “hero” section highlighting the most important information as well as child cards that allow the user to dive deeper into an area. (more…)

Hello, Pennsylvania! Per-mile Insurance & Driving App Now Available

The wait is over. Per-mile insurance is now available in Pennsylvania! We are rewriting the rules of the road by introducing a totally new type of car insurance where the monthly bill is based on miles driven.

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Over 60% of drivers in Pennsylvania are considered low-mileage (drive less than 200 miles per week), and large cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh already have great public transportation and bike-friendly commute options. In fact, Philadelphia has more bike commuters per capita than any of the other ten biggest cities in the U.S. It is likely that Pennsylvanians who rarely drive are overpaying for car insurance, so we anticipate that pay-per-mile car insurance will be much-needed solution!

We also plan to help Pennsylvanians become smarter drivers with our smart driving app. Insurance customers will receive the Metromile Pulse, a device that plugs into the car’s OBD-II port to deliver useful driving data and smart services.

Pennsylvania is the second state on the East Coast where we offer per-mile insurance, and we have more planned on our roadmap. Sign up for our waitlist if you would like to be notified when we arrive in your state!

Street Sweeping Alerts Now Available in Los Angeles & San Diego

Many of us are all too familiar with the sinking feeling you get when you find that dreaded ticket on your dash because you parked in a street sweeping zone. Here at Metromile, we’re on a mission to make car ownership as easy as possible, which is why we are excited to announce that our street sweeping alerts are now available in San Diego and the greater Los Angeles area!

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We’ve already issued more than 28,000 alerts in San Francisco and Chicago and saved customers an average of $1.8 million in parking tickets. Now, customers in San Diego and the greater Los Angeles area can avoid those pricey tickets as well. In the past year, there have been nearly 650,000 street sweeping citations issued in the city of Los Angeles, 70,000 in Santa Monica, and 25,000 in West Hollywood. At $63-$73 per ticket, that means that residents in the greater Los Angeles area have spent more than $53 million in street sweeping ticket fines. We’re here to do something about that- your money can definitely be put to better use! Trying out that new restaurant or going to a concert with your friends is much better than paying for a pesky parking ticket.

Metromile customers in select cities can take advantage of the alerts. We use city data and internal information to determine if your car is parked in a street-sweeping zone, and, if so, you will receive a push notification 12 hours before the scheduled street cleaning. If you miss the first alert, there will be a second alert with one hour to spare.

LA and SD are the first of many stops on our roadmap as we expand coverage for our sweeping alerts and other smart services. Learn more about our free smart driving app, and if you are also interested in saving money with per-mile insurance you can get started here. Here’s to the last of those street sweeping tickets!

What’s The Deal with iBeacon Technology?

 

You also may have heard of innovative uses of iBeacon technology in the news lately, so what exactly is this technology and how is it being used?

Apple first introduced the iBeacon application programming interface (API) in 2013. With this API, hardware devices (aka “beacons”) emit a unique signal that can be picked up by a smartphone when close by, which then triggers apps to perform certain actions. iBeacon uses a low-energy Bluetooth signal, but it is different than traditional Bluetooth technology where a device and phone sync with each other. The beacon continually sends pings, apps on your phone listen for these signals, and when your phone comes into range the apps will respond to the pings. It’s similar to GPS-based “geo push” technology, but with more precision and less battery usage. Most beacon devices are typically small, low-energy, and powered by coin-cell batteries, making them long-lasting and easy to place anywhere.

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As Apple explains, “iBeacon opens a new world of possibilities for location awareness, and countless opportunities for interactivity between iOS devices and iBeacon hardware.” Marketing lingo aside, iBeacon technology is a simple and effective way of triggering location-based actions. A popular use is for retailers wanting to send location-specific messaging. Assuming you have the retailer’s app installed, if you pass a beacon in the shop, a special offer could pop up on your phone (if you’ve opted for notifications). Virgin Atlantic used iBeacon location-aware technology to send messages to customers with electronic boarding passes in London’s Heathrow airport. Target uses beacon technology in their Cartwheel app to offer mobile-only deals to customers shopping in the store. Even McDonald’s has been testing iBeacon functionality in their restaurants. In all these scenarios, the beacon remains at a fixed location, and an action happens when an app user happens to pass by.