10 min read
Vehicle Information Apps — Unlock the Power of Your Car
For most people, trying to figure out what’s wrong with your car is like mental gymnastics, and when something doesn’t work right, it elevates our anxiety.
It’s understandable! After all, car repairs can be expensive.
You might hear a knock or ping sound when starting the vehicle. A warning light may flash on the dash. Acceleration of the vehicle may seem odd and the transmission doesn’t feel right.
It’s all a mystery for most of us.
This is where vehicle information apps come into play.
These apps can be used for a whole host of vehicle functions, from gas mileage to car maintenance.
In short, they exist to give you a better driving experience.
You can learn more about what steps to take to build your own vehicle information app in this video.
There’s a wide variety of vehicle information apps in various stores—each offering different functionality that can improve your car ownership experience.
So what kind of functionality do these apps offer and what value do they bring their users?
Value #1: Car Maintenance
This is a pretty self-explanatory one. Predicting car issues before they happen is without a doubt valuable.
Almost every car owner has faced this issue. You’re driving your car and then suddenly something happens.
That feeling of panic sets in and you try to figure out what’s wrong and what to do next. At this point, you’re probably wondering: what’s this going to cost me?
According to AAA, the average cost for a car repair is $500-600, but the worst is going into the shop not knowing what to expect.
Sure, most cars come with dummy lights on the dash, but these don’t offer too many details about the issue. These warning lights have improved over the years, but they’re still far from perfect.
This is where car maintenance apps come in. Let’s take a look at a few.
1.1 General car care
This app has a slew of beneficial features that make it worth using. Here are a few notable ones:
● Keep track of maintenance schedules (oil changes, brakes, inspections, and filters)
● Locate nearby repair shops within the CARFAX network
● Alerts for current recalls
● Track up to eight vehicles at once
● Track gas mileage
This app is packed with features, but it’s only one example of many. There are plenty of other apps that include some or all of these features.
1.2 Gas mileage
These apps track your fuel economy over time. Using this data, they can provide helpful tips on how to improve your car’s fuel efficiency which will help you save money.
These apps also include some other maintenance features like oil change reminders and tire rotations, which are certainly useful.
1.3 Car recalls
Having defective parts could cause a major accident. And of course, it can cost a lot of money to repair.
It’s not always easy to stay in the loop about vehicle recalls. Sure, they may try to reach you via phone or email, but how often do you receive spam calls trying to sell you a bogus car warranty or something else?
This is where vehicle information apps can help. Car owners can get recall notices the minute they’re issued directly from an app, so you know they’re legitimate.
A great example of this is the Safer Car App by the NHTSA.
Using the app, users can upload all of their vehicle’s information by simply scanning your car’s VIN. From there, you’ll be notified if there’s a recall related to your vehicle.
When your car has a recall, Safer Car will direct you to the closest dealership so you can fix the issue as quickly as possible.
The Safer Car app, and many other apps like it, could prevent disaster and save lives.
Talk about convenience!
Value #2: On-the-Road Help
Apps that help users while they’re on the road are a lot more common than the apps listed above. Most of you have probably used these apps at least once.
These apps meant to help you on the road include GPS, gas station apps, and parking assists.
Apps like these exist to feed you information while you drive, even if it isn’t about your car. In an unfamiliar area, these kinds of apps can come in handy.
Let’s take a look at a few.
This is probably one of the first apps that come to mind when thinking of a vehicle information app since they’re so widely used.
When driving in an unfamiliar area in the old days, you’d have to either follow road signs or physical maps.
With today’s technology, drivers have access to a real-time map of the entire world. This comes with user-added warnings and real-time traffic alerts.
2.2 Gas station rewards
Many gas stations offer rewards for those who frequently fuel up at their stations.
For years, these were in the form of cards that you scanned at the pump, but they were easy to lose and had other issues.
Thanks to smartphones, you can now access your gas station points on the go. By just scanning your phone, you have access to discounts and other features.
- GasBuddy card for fuel rewards (accepted at most major stations)
- Crowdsourced gas prices
- Fuel efficiency tips
- Car maintenance booking
- Fuel log
This app, and many like it, are great additions to your overall driving experience. Finding affordable gas is an extremely helpful tool.
Finding parking is one of the biggest challenges when driving. In almost every city, finding a place to park near your destination can be a struggle.
Between meters and garage fees, parking close to your destination can also be expensive.
From the apps, you can easily reserve your spot without needing to talk to the clerk or get a ticket.
These apps both streamline and cheapen parking in cities across the country.
Most cities also provide apps for paying for meters. Since almost no one carries change anymore, this makes street parking easier than ever.
Use both parking and gas station rewards apps to reap the most savings!
With these apps, you simply scan the code on the meter and choose how long you wish to be parked.
It’s that simple.
Value # 3: Telematic Devices
Telematic devices are a mix of hardware and software apps. These devices plug into the OBD II port located under the steering wheel of most vehicles.
This is the same port mechanics use to connect with the car’s computer. The most frequent use of this port is to determine what is causing the check engine light to appear.
Telematics are employed for a variety of uses. Fleet vehicles and insurance companies are prime examples of those who use telematics.
3.1 Insurance Companies
This is something that has been advertised for years by insurance companies like Progressive.
Telematics are a great way to track your driving from a small piece of hardware.
Using these devices, insurance companies can tune your premium based on how well you drive.
This information is recorded by the telematics device and sent to your insurance provider.
You can use telematics to lower your premium, but keep in mind that telematics can also be used against you to increase your premium if you’re not a safe driver.
So take these apps with a grain of salt and do a bit of research first to ensure they’ll help you save money in the long run.
3.2 Fleet vehicles
This is probably the most common use of telematics. When you’re managing a fleet of vehicles, you need to know where each one is and how fast they’re going.
Services like Ford Telematics provide this and more. If your fleet cars are Ford manufactured, Ford Telematics provides valuable insights into your vehicle.
Using the Ford Telematics dashboard, fleet managers have access to a variety of data points. Here are just a few:
- Scheduling maintenance
- Location services
- Oil change information
- Engine details
- And up to date service indicators
There are plenty of other telematics systems like Bosch Connectivity or Samsara.
Bosch, and many like it, are designed for personal use and connect to an app to log accidents and provide diagnostics.
Value # 4: Infotainment Integration
Many of these apps can be integrated with infotainment systems.
Car manufacturers like Ford, Chrysler, and Toyota all include infotainment systems themselves which are used to display information to the driver without distracting them during their trip.
We have a more in-depth article covering these apps which explains more of the development process as well as good design practices.
Many of the apps listed above work great with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. They can provide valuable information about a car and the road easily.
4.1 Android Auto
Android Auto is a great tool for drivers needing their apps on the road. Using Android Auto, all of the aforementioned apps show right up on your car’s screen.
Another perk with using Android Auto is that almost everything is compatible. Most modern cars with a center console screen can use it.
Most stereo brands are also compatible with Android Auto. This is probably the most compatible option, and perfect for Android users.
You can also control the app with your voice. Drivers can easily use any car information app with some simple voice commands.
4.2 Apple CarPlay
Apple CarPlay is similar to Android Auto in functionality. The key difference is that it’s compatible with Apple devices.
Using Apple CarPlay, drivers can access most iPhone apps with their voice, which makes things much safer when on the road.
This is the ideal option if you own an iPhone.
Final Thoughts: Your Idea
Do you have a great idea for a vehicle information app?
From the list of apps and hardware above, you can see what works in the information app market and how they’re bringing real value to users.
These applications are a great starting point to formulate your own app idea.
You can create something new or expand on already existing ideas to make them more practical or efficient.
Remember, all of these apps exist to provide assistance or information to a driver, whether on the road or off.
If you have a vehicle information app, you’ll first want to make sure your idea is in fact a good one through things like user testing and research, and then get started on finding the perfect mobile app development team who can bring your idea to life.
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