All the cool kids have them. We’re talking about smartphone applications, better known by their street name, “apps.” If you’re one of the two people in your village who hasn’t heard of them before, these nifty programs can turn your smartphone into a real-life tricorder, straight James T. Kirk style. By simply downloading an app—usually for a nominal fee—you can use your phone to close the curtains in your house, receive GPS navigation instructions, pay your bar tab, or post useless information about yourself that no one cares about on Facebook. Clearly, they cover the gamut in usefulness, but for hot rodders, there’s a growing number of must-have apps to whet your hormonally imbalanced appetites. As such, we’ve rounded up 10 of the coolest gearhead apps for your perusal.
Not that long ago, only those who displayed bizarre enthusiasm for spending obscene piles of cash on otherwise underwhelming technology (cough, iPhone buyers) could jump on the app bandwagon. Fortunately, that’s all changed. Our roundup includes apps for both iPhone and Android devices, and many software developers offer apps for both platforms. Just some of our interesting finds include apps that turn your phone into a dragstrip, show you where the local bacon is hiding, track deals on eBay for potential project cars, and calculate every relevant automotive math formula known to man.
For car guys, Steve Jobs’ legacy isn’t the Mac or iPod, but rather the accelerometer he ordered his engineers to install in the iPhone. We’re not complaining, because it didn’t take the speed demons at BunsenTech very long to turn this piece of technology into a mobile dragstrip and dyno by creating the Dynolicious app. It works off the same principle as a windshield-mounted accelerometer, but without the hassle of cords or suction cups. Once installed, Dynolicious can measure 0-to-60 times, quarter-mile e.t.’s, lateral and braking g’s, and horsepower. Furthermore, the app boasts a real-time speedometer and a circle-of-traction graphic. At $12.99, it’s less than a trip to test-and-tune night at the dragstrip, and the potential for juvenile entertainment is endless. Just make sure to follow all local traffic laws. Read more about it at www.BunsenTech.com.
All hot rodders are guilty of shopping for project cars online in their cubicles. Now you can take corporate inefficiency to the next level by shopping during senseless weekly meetings with eBay’s vehicle finder app. Just punch in the type of car you’re looking for, and bid right from your phone. It even gives you real-time updates on the status of your bids. A cool new feature is a search-by-image tool that allows users to take a picture of the type of car they’re interested in. The app then references the image to its database, and pulls up similar make and model cars that are for sale. According to eBay, nearly 2,800 cars are sold each week using the app. The bad news is that only iPhone users can get in on the action, but it’s available for free download at www.Mobile.eBay.com.
For as long as law enforcement has been making up for slow-economy-induced budget cuts by writing more tickets, John Q. Public has been trying to stay one step ahead with radar tracking devices. OK, the cat and mouse game has been going on much longer than that, but the digital era has empowered the public with new tools to more effectively track the local herds of bacon. Using your smartphone’s internal GPS, the Trapster app alerts drivers of speed traps and red light cameras in your vicinity. It can even be set up with audible warnings as you approach potential ticket zones. Interestingly, Trapster determines speed enforcement hot spots using input from its 15 million users. Any Trapster user can become an informant and rat out where the Five-Oh are hiding. Best of all, it’s free to download for iPhone and Android users at www.Trapster.com.
Hot rodders are always crunching numbers, whether it’s figuring out how much shrinking the combustion chambers will bump up the compression ratio on an engine build, or determining what ring-and-pinion ratio is required to get to the finish line. Instead of having to bust out a reference book for the appropriate formula for such calculations, the auto:Math app does it for you. Just fill in the blanks and it will calculate displacement, compression ratio, tire size, gear ratio, and piston speed as well as vehicle weight distribution and center of gravity. It’s like having your own little math geek who calculates complex math formulas at will. For $1.99, the auto:Math app is practically free and available for iPhones at www.NapkinSketch.com.
If you think adjusting fuel and spark maps from a laptop is cool, Vivid Linq is going to usher in the next ice age. Superchips has been offering handheld engine devices for quite some time, but it now offers the same tuning power with your smartphone. There are two pieces to the Vivid Linq puzzle. The system includes a module that plugs into the vehicle diagnostic port, and an Android app that loads tuning software onto your smartphone. The two interface with each other via Bluetooth connectivity, which allows users to tune a motor straight from their phones. In addition to the typical engine tuning features, the Vivid Linq interface boasts virtual gauges and can read trouble codes. It’s available for most popular GM, Ford, and Chrysler late-model performance cars. Get more info at www.Superchips.com.
Anyone can turn a wrench, but do you have the chops to lay down a clean weld? The answer is “no” for most hot rodders, but fear not, Miller Electric now offers a digital solution with its weld setting calculator. The app asks a few basic questions to assist the novice welder in setting up his welding gear properly. Simply enter the type of weld (MIG or TIG) you’ll be laying down, the type of material that’s being welded, metal thickness, and weld type, and the app will compute a recommended polarity, amp range, gas flow rate, and welding speed. It’s available free of charge for both iPhone and Android devices at www.MillerWelds.com/Mobile.
Getting raped on gas prices is becoming an American tradition, but GasBuddy’s new mobile app can ease the sting. Enter your location by city or zip code, and the GasBuddy app will pull up a map of the lowest-priced gas stations in the area. Like Trapster, the database is updated by fellow users, and considering how passionate drivers are about price gouging at the pump, this strategy works very well with regular price updates. The app is of particular convenience for those weekends where you’re towing your race car, and need to track down that elusive diesel pump. The GasBuddy app is free for download for both iPhone and Android platforms at www.GasBuddy.com.
If you’re like most hot rodders, wiring is something you deplore. Since most of us aren’t smart enough to carry around a wiring diagram for critical electrical equipment in the glovebox, MSD has development a new ignition app. Let’s say you’re at the track, left your hood open during a torrential downpour, and need to diagnose your ignition system. Instead of guessing where all the wires go, you can now bust out your smartphone, and sift through MSD’s database of wiring schematics for everything from distributors to coils to ignition boxes. The app is also loaded with some general tech tips, and a list of distributors should you need to locate replacement parts. It’s free for download on iPhones at www.MSDIgnition.com/MobileApp.
Everyone knows that online auction sites are a great place to score deals on parts. SpeedDealz offers an interesting twist by posting incredible blowout specials on overstock, closeout, and discontinued parts from the aftermarket’s biggest manufacturers. The site claims 50 to 75 percent discounts on everything from nitrous kits to EFI systems. This purchasing power can now be accessed right from your iPhone, and the app also offers a safe and secure checkout process. To download it for free, check out www.SpeedDealz.com.
Most hot rodders have multiple rides, so chances are pretty good that you regularly pull up to your garage only to realize that you left the clicker in another car. Craftsman has the fix with its garage door opener app. The only downer is that it requires purchasing a $250 Craftsman AssureLink garage door opener, but once it’s installed, it can be activated right from your smartphone. The app works for both iPhones and Android devices. Check out www.Craftsman.com for more info, or search “AssureLink” at the iTunes or Android app stores.