As the amount of traffic on our roads increases, so too does the amount of time we spend commuting.
Research suggests that workers in London, on average, spend forty two days per year commuting, while a typical American worker doesn’t fare much better – clocking in at an average of thirty eight days per year. Both those figures represent more days commuting that most people get in annual leave. It’s a worrying trend.
What if we could speed up or improve that commute by using technology? It turns out we can. There are numerous apps that try to make our daily trek to the office just a little bit more manageable. Here we look at some of the best.
Waze (Cross-platform, Free)
Waze is a community-based traffic, mapping, and navigation app. It styles itself as a fun way for drivers to join forces and outsmart traffic, save time, save fuel, and improve their daily commute. With 30 million users all around the world, the real-time information is updated regularly and is often highly accurate.
We reviewed Waze for iOS a year ago and found that from all the navigation apps on the market, this one had the best concepts. The only criticism was that it didn’t have a ‘big-name backer’ – however, since the review was published the company has been acquired by Google in a $1.3 billion deal in June 2013.
Waze has some features that really make it standout from its competition. These include the ability to join or create groups to share your commuting information, live ETAs for family and friends that display your location as you drive, information about the cheapest petrol station on your route, and the app’s ability to learn your frequent destinations and preferred routes.
Bike Maps (iOS, $0.99)
Perhaps you’re one of the lucky few who are either motivated enough or have a safe enough route to cycle to work every day?
Bike Maps will provide you with a plethora of pertinent information about your route, including traffic density, water availability, road surfaces, and the feasibility of a new route.
Be aware, this is an iOS only app and predominantly only supports North American cities – though they do encourage users to contact them with recommendations for new cities to add to the service.
Automatic (iOS, $99)
Although there are apps that can teach road safety, they won’t teach you how to improve your driving. Automatic is a smart driving assistant that uses a car’s on-board computer combined with a smartphone’s GPS to provide feedback to the driver. It can offer users information about rough braking, speeding, rapid acceleration and miles per gallon, as well as being able to remind you where you parked and send push notifications about your engine’s condition.
The app works by plugging the ‘Automatic Link’ into the car’s data port, and the developers claim that the system should work with just about every car since 1996. This then connects with the smartphone app to provide all the above feedback.
Interestingly, Automatic will provide you with a weekly score that is aimed at helping you improve your driving. Working hard to lower your score and improve your driving could potentially save you a considerable amount of money from your annual petrol bill – for frequent commuters the system may well be worth the $99.95 investment.
Currently the system only works in North America, but the developers indicate they are working hard to expand into other parts of the world.
Hopstop (Web & iOS, Free)
If you’re a public transport user, this is the app for you. We already looked desktop apps to help you use public transport efficiently, but Hopstop is available on both iOS and Android. The app collates data from buses, trains, undergrounds, and trams to provide you with the most efficient way of undertaking your route on public transport.
The app will provide data about time taken, cost, and distance, so you can be sure you are choosing the route best-suited to your requirements.
Another public transport-based app, iNextBus Realtime Bus Tracker is also available for free on both Android and iOS.
Users of this app will never be left sitting in the rain whilst waiting for their bus to turn up. The app tracks buses on your device’s screen in real-time and it can use your current location to show all incoming buses to nearby stops along with an ETA.
It also allows users to bookmark stops and routes, meaning you can plan your journey before you leave the house and never ‘just miss’ your bus again.
Perhaps you’ve uncovered a commuting gem that you can share with the MakeUseOf community? Do you already use one of the above apps? Do they save you time and/or money? Let us know in the comments below.
Image Credits: joiseyshowaa Via Flickr
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