In 2020, the emphasis is on safety – starting with driver monitoring systems that use a camera which is usually mounted on the dashboard of the car. It can alert if the driver is tired and give notifications about the driving quality and whether you need to stop for a break.
Also, there’s a rise in semi-autonomous cars and with it, comes the car-to-car communication. It is based on the Cloud technology where the vehicles gather data from each other and adjust the driving to fit the conditions. For example, if a road ahead is closed, then this information is being sent out to the whole network.
Voice control in cars is also trending– especially when you integrate apps, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Ease-of-use is one of the most important factors in voice search within cars. So, you need to make sure that your smartphone is compatible and has the latest software. Also, you’ll need to have a dashboard or a stereo to which these apps can connect.
Features, such as safety, car-to-car-communication and voice control don’t need to be in-built within a car. It is possible to upgrade your car even if it’s older, with our top picks of budget-friendly car technology and apps. No matter the car make and model, everyone can customise their vehicle without paying a hefty price on new cars for higher specification trims.
Best budget or free car apps
Fiat Mopar Connect
You can check the whereabouts of your car via an app remotely, which is handy if you lose it in a parking lot. It is available in the MY:REMOTECONTROL section of the app. The other section called MY:ASSISTANT enables you to collect information about the car crash and your location, which then gets sent directly to the roadside assistance. There’s also theft assistance which alerts you if the vehicle is out of place which then can be used to immobilise the car.
It’s best to visit your local Fiat dealership if you want to get this smart connectivity installed in your car. Keep in mind that this app will only work with Fiat cars.
You can avoid traffic with user-generated traffic alerts which include potholes, police location, road closures and other similar types. It uses the car-to-car-communication described above, which utilises Cloud-based technology. It is compatible with both Android and Apple phones and is free.
This free app is one of the best-rated in Google PlayStore and for a reason – it shows you a mileage log with gas fill-ups, your GPS location and budgeting charts, such as monthly fuel costs and total costs. It is an excellent app if you’re looking to save money on the increasing fuel charges.
Have you ever been driving around without knowing where the closest parking space may be and having to look around? You don’t have to do that anymore with a free Parkopedia app. It will show you all the closest parking spaces, detailed pricing for a specific timeframe and availability, all for free. You can also use the filters to find the most suitable parking for you.
You will need an in-built display to use Apple CarPlay, and the specification of the iPhone needs to be 5 or higher. Apple describes it as a ‘smarter, safer way to use your iPhone while you drive.’ The main icons are larger so you can take calls and check maps much easier. It also has Siri so you can give voice directions without being distracted.
The requirements to run the app include a car and/or a stereo that’s compatible with Android Auto, as well as a USB cable. Additionally, the software needs to be Android 6.0 and above. Basic features include Google Assistant, Maps, calls, news and calendar. The icons are also larger and better to navigate through than the phone.
Best in-car technology
FIXD OBD-II Active Car Health Monitor
It will notify you if there are any car maintenance problems which you can then integrate with a smartphone to get repairs reminders. With this car health monitor, you’ll be armed with data and diagnostics on the car’s condition which you can then show to your mechanic.
iOttie Auto Sense
If you’re on the road a lot and your phone battery suffers, then a wireless car phone charger may be exactly what you need. It costs less than £50 and has an extendable telescopic arm. iOttie’s wireless technology is also Qi-certified which meets standard wireless charging standards.
Toguard Dash Cam with GPS
High-quality dash cams usually cost above £100. So, a Toguard Dash is a pleasant surprise with its price of £45.99 on Amazon. It has a GPS, HD camera quality and it is compact, so its mini size won’t disrupt your windshield view. You can also download the videos with timestamps directly to your smartphone. For this price, this is truly a gem.
Amazon Echo Auto Bluetooth Car Kit
It attaches to the vent mount and fits in even the smallest of cars. It is similar to the regular Amazon Echo when it comes to functions, except this one is created specifically for cars and design reflects that. Additionally, it is equipped with eight microphones for better sound and speaker quality. You can also control it via Alexa app and integrate it with other Amazon services, such as Amazon Music and Audible.
Zone Tech Car Reverse Backup Parking Sensor
When the visibility is decreased, car reverse sensors can instantly help you with those annoying blind-spots. The sensors are also weatherproof so it won’t stop working if it mixes with a little bit of rain. Additionally, there are three colours – green, orange and red, which indicate the distance between the obstacles to help avoid the crash.
And here’s our round-up of the best free and budget-friendly in-car technology and apps. What’s your favourite car app? Let us know in the comments below.