Designed to make it easier to use your apps and phone services while on the road, Android Auto used to be the province of cars with connected dashboard displays, but a major update changes things up by allowing you to use Android Auto's simplified interface and voice commands straight from your phone's screen. Just mount your Android phone on a cradle or lock, and you're all set. Android Auto is designed to work with Google Maps, Play Music, and numerous other apps to help you navigate, control music playback, answer your phone or send off quick replies without becoming a distracted driver.
Waze (Android, iOS) is a crowd-sourced traffic map and navigation app. Users can check out traffic conditions based on real-time information from other Waze users, complete with reports on road hazards, accidents, speed traps and more. You can also actively report any incidents you encounter. Best of all, Waze includes guided turn-by-turn navigation that take traffic conditions into account.
Long road trips mean you're going to need to fill up multiple times, so finding inexpensive gasoline and reliable filling stations is a must. Motorists in the USA and Canada stand to save some serious change with GasBuddy (Android, iOS), a mobile app that helps users track down the cheapest nearby gas station based on their present location. As many of the prices are based on user reports, GasBuddy rewards users with points for reporting and updating a station's prices. Those points make you eligible for regular raffles of prizes, like free gas.
Brave early adopters of electric vehicles can instead give Plugshare (Android, iOS) a try: it lets you look up and review nearby charging stations for your electric car. The app features a map database of more than 90,000 public charging stations for your electric car, complete with compatibility notes, PlugScore station ratings, availability details, and the ability to rate and review stations, as well as add new ones not yet in the map.
Road tolls can add an unexpected chunk to your travel costs. TollSmart (Android, iOS) is a neat trip-planning app that allows you to quickly look up the price of all toll bridges, roadways, and tunnels from start to destination. The app allows you to create profiles for a variety of vehicles from the family sedan all the way up to nine-axle vehicles to calculate vehicle-based toll rates. The app also includes support for a variety of transponder-based systems like E-ZPass. Users can automatically log in toll rates in the app's TollTracker system for easy expense report logging. An in-app purchase provides you the ability to compare tolls across multiple proposed routes.
Need to grab a bite to eat, withdraw some cash from an ATM, or catch some winks before the next leg of your road trip? iExit Interstate Exit Guide (Android, iOS) helps you plan your next pitstop, displaying handy pictographs of businesses and amenities in upcoming interstate exits. Users can search for specific businesses, display locations on an on-screen map, view gas prices, or find amenities like Wi-Fi, truck parking or campgrounds.
Roadtrippers (Android, iOS) is another useful resource for road trip planning, helping users find everything from diners and dives to hotels, restaurants, national parks, roadside attractions and other scenic points of interest. Users can plan out trips in the app or its web portal, saving locations and stops into a trip plan which you can sync across multiple devices for easy reference.