More people than ever will be traveling this Memorial Day weekend, a good majority of them in their own vehicle. If you have an iPhone, you’re in luck; there are plenty of apps available to make that long drive suck less. Let’s take a look at a few of them, some of which are on sale for a limited time or for this weekend only.
Standard radio stations only have a limited range when traveling, forcing you to find a new station every hour or two. Satellite radio works, but but those monthly fees add up quick. Internet radio works anywhere, as long as you’re within range of a data network, making it perfect for long-distance travel.
Livio Car Internet Radio
$4.99 On Sale This Weekend Only: $1.99
Livio Car Internet Radio is a comprehensive new app that promises over 42,000 radio streams from AM, FM, and internet-only streams, including podcasts. If you like a radio station near home, you’ll still be able to listen to it when you’re away, or check out some new stations. You can browse by location or genre, and the app will make recommendations based on what you’re already listening to. The app is made for listening to in the car, with large buttons and a radio-like feel. It works on wi-fi, 3G, or Edge connections. As with just about everything nowadays, you can also share stations on Twitter or email them to a friend.
I downloaded Livio and was able to get set up quickly. It’s easy to navigate and select your stations, but one thing to keep in mind is that it’s based on the station’s internet stream, so some stations aren’t available at all, and quality can be spotty at times (I got a lot of static on some stations,) which isn’t Livio’s fault but it’s something to keep in mind. To curtail the quality issue, they have a “Reliability Filter” selectable in the settings that filters out low quality stations.
Pandora Internet Radio
One of my favorite websites and apps, Pandora, is a 100% free internet radio service that plays a stream of music based on what it thinks you will like. Give it a song or artist you like and it will play other songs based on the musical qualities of what you’ve given it. Rate the song with a thumbs up or thumbs down and it adjusts its algorithm accordingly. I’ve discovered many new artists with Pandora, and I use it all the time. If fact, I’m listening to it as I write this.
Pandora is advertisement-driven, but you can upgrade to Pandora One for $36/year, which comes with a desktop app, higher quality audio, no ads, and custom skins.
We all get lost, and the iPhone’s Google Maps app is great as long as you don’t need turn-by-turn directions. If you don’t have a full-featured GPS system, there are a few companies out there that have you covered. As with any iPhone GPS-dependant app, it’s good to keep in mind that the iPhone’s location feature isn’t the best, and it gets worse when you don’t have good coverage.
$29.99 On sale June 1-11: $14.99
Navigon’s MyRegion series of apps is a good way to go if you’re within the same region (East, Central, or West.) Three apps are available, one for each region, and you can unlock additional regions for $14.99 (or $9.99 during the June 1-11 sale.) My experience with Navigon products have been good – the system tends to be easy to use and intuitive.
The nice thing about these GPS apps that download the entire map to the phone upon purchase (as opposed to on-the-fly over the internet,) is that it’s generally a one-time cost instead of a monthly amount. The bad part about them is that it takes up a lot of storage space on the phone. With the MyRegion app, it downloads the ENTIRE US map but only activates what you’ve purchased. Seems like a waste of space to me, but it’s still an app worth looking into, especially during the 50% sale.
TomTom USA is one of the higher-rated navigation apps in the app store, and it’s offered at a reasonable price of $50, one-time. It offers real-time traffic (although the traffic info will cost $20/year – kind of a ripoff if you ask me,) Google local search, automatic day/night mode, text-to-speech, navigate to contacts, auto-recalculate, and a ton of other cool features.
I haven’t used this app personally, so I can’t give any hands-on advice, but it seems pretty solid based on the reviews.