11 Cool Driving Apps (and 1 Shameless Plug)

In honor of the Esurance app’s debut, here’s a list of our favorite iPhone® apps for drivers.

Since we first posted this story, we’ve upgraded our smartphone driving apps to help you find everything from gas stations to pizza places (along with manage your policy and file claims). 

This week marks the launch of Esurance Mobile, our very own app for iPhone®. In honor of this occasion, we compiled a list of our favorite driving apps for all you road warriors. There are more than 225,000 apps to choose from, so narrowing it down required a little guesswork, a little research, and a little word of mouth. Some of these apps help you get from A to B, some pass the time while you’re riding shotgun, and some just make long stretches of highway a little more fun.

Enjoy the list!

The map apps

Google Maps. Let’s respect our app elders and get this one out of the way. More than 3 years since its iPhone® debut, the Google Maps app remains the most popular way to map a route and check out local businesses. It doesn’t hurt that it comes standard with every new iPhone®.

Skobbler. This free app features voice-assisted turn-by-turn navigation. Typically, apps with street-level functionality are on the pricier side, but Skobbler uses something called OpenStreetMap, an open-source mapping system that MacWorld calls “the Wikipedia of maps.” The price is right, and so is the download size (just 2.3 megabytes).

The useful apps

Gas Cubby. This is one practical app. It tracks your car’s gas mileage along with how much you pay per gallon, and reminds you when it’s time to rotate your tires or change your oil. We recommend downloading the free sponsored version to give it a test spin.

Where. Like the Yelp and All Around Me apps, Where is essentially a database of what’s around you. No matter where you find yourself, this handy app can guide you to the nearest gas station (and tell you the latest price per gallon), coffee shop, or movie theatre. The 3D map capability gives it a few bonus points, too.

Trapster. Speed-trap and hazard-avoiding apps are catching on quickly. And believe it or not, an app like Trapster actually encourages its 6.4 million downloaders to slow down and drive more safely. We’re keeping our eye on this somewhat counter-intuitive benefit.

The music apps

SoundHound (formerly Midomi). Have a song stuck in your head but can’t remember the words or the one-hit-wonder who recorded it? SoundHound can help. You can hum, whistle, or play a tune into this free app for iPhone®, and you’ll see the artist and song name displayed alongside available videos. And there’s even a link to the lyrics. (SoundHound gets a slight nod over Shazam for its ability to respond to hums and whistles.)

Pandora. In Internet years, Pandora is going on 100 by now, and a quick poll reveals that it remains the #1 iPhone® music app in our corporate office. Its playlist builder is perfectly suited to smartphones, and it only seems to improve over time. The app’s latest version supports the new iOS4 multi-tasking feature, which is a fancy way of saying that you can check directions without stopping the music.

The “I need-a-lift” apps

Avego. Plenty of apps are trying to make carpooling easy, which is a cause we love to support. By many accounts, Avego is the furthest along, and we especially like the feedback and ratings feature.

Zipcar. This free app is a must for Zipcar members. It lets you find a Zipcar near you and make or change a reservation. Once you’re near your rental, you can lock and unlock it through the app. You can also tap a button that makes it honk, just for kicks.

The bonus apps

Flashlight. You’ll never need this app until you really, really need it. Flashlight turns your entire screen a bright white color, so you can change a tire or find your wallet under the seat in no time.

Plants vs. Zombies. Full disclosure here — before we got our hands on this app, we had no idea plants and zombies maintain an intense rivalry. Plants vs. Zombies is a classic tower defense game, and it’s one of the coolest, most engaging ways to spend a few hours on a road trip (provided you’re not the driver, of course). And yes, it sounds silly. But check out IGN’s review if you won’t take our word for it.

Esurance Mobile. Monitor repairs, pay bills, contact your claims rep, handle an accident, get a quote, find a preferred repair shop, check your ID cards, and more. We are not above this shameless plug.

That’s our list (for now, anyway). We hope it’s a fitting send-off to our own free app for iPhone®. If you’re an iPhone® owner and a driver of cars, let us know if we missed any of your favorites by commenting.

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