Our must-have car apps to release your inner petrolhead

6 min reading time
From precision performance testing to iconic road trips; your smartphone holds the key to a more exciting life on the road. But where do you find the coolest car apps around? We took a look to give you a few suggestions.

3 December 2020

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Whether you are a full-on petrolhead, a hobby diagnostics and data geek, or simply just love the time you spend in your car, you’re likely to know by now very well that smartphone apps can make life behind the wheel a lot more fun and interesting. More than just a helpful tool for receiving traffic updates or taking calls, your smartphone can today make sure you get the very best out of your time whenever you take your seat behind the wheel. 

But with a huge selection of new apps for petrolheads available, it can be hard to figure out exactly which unlock the very best of your next drive. So, we decided to give you a helping hand in sorting out the best selection of must-have car apps for modern petrolheads and car lovers alike.

TEST: PERFEXPERT

You know the ins and outs of your car, but still have that appetite for precision insights and performance testing? Then PerfExpert is for you.

Built to be a go-to app for real car freaks, PerfExpert is a dyno and timer app that gives you a set of tools to measure your car’s performance with high precision. PerfExpert uses your phone’s built-in sensors like its accelerometer to give you precise insights, without connecting it to your car. Use the app to measure your torque, find your exact rev limit, or set up a timed run to measure for example your 0-60 mph, and review your results as detailed reports with a set of interactive charts. A growing number of car fans rely on PerfExpert by now, making it one of the most popular performance testing apps available.

©PerfExpert Dyno App
PerfExpert is one of the most popular dyno and performance testing apps available to car fans.

LOG: DRIVERSNOTE

Manually keeping track of where you go and why can be a headache. But fear not – there’s an app for that, too. driversnote is an app designed to automatically track all of your trips, using your smartphone’s GPS for precisely calculating the kilometers you put behind you. But that’s not all. If you need to for example distinguish between private and business trips, driversnote will automatically detect the places you’ve visited and make suggestions to categorize the purpose of your latest drive. And should you need that info to claim expenses, driversnote will also automatically generate a report, which you can export either as a PDF or as an Excel file. 

  • FREE basic version (up to 20 trips per month). $9.50/month for subscription to full version with unlimited trips and all features included.

  • iOS

  • Android

©Driversnote
driversnote offers a comprehensive tool for logging and reporting all of your driving.

CONNECT: RiiiDE

One of the most beautiful things about being a car lover is that you can be sure you are not alone. Passion for cars unites millions of petrolheads worldwide, thanks in part to apps like RiiiDE

Developed to be "a modern, international social network for petrolheads“, RiiiDE connects everyone from hobby mechanics and collectors to professional drivers and photo buffs in a single, car lovers’ network. RiiiDE lets you upload – yes, you guessed it – your ride, and add the details you want to share, including key specs and your favorite photos. From here you can track changes or modifications you make to your car, share photos and updates, connect with likeminded car lovers to find and organize events, or discover dream cars like your own. RiiiDE has it all, neatly bundled in one place. 

©Riiide
RiiiDE is a social network, designed for car fanatics of all kinds and types.

DIAGNOSE: CAR SCANNER ELM OBD2

For real car nerds, gear heads and petrolheads, knowing every single little detail of how your car performs is natural. For all you need to figure out, look no further than the car tracker app Car Scanner ELM OBD2. This car app will basically turn your smartphone into an ultra-detailed, real-time diagnostics tool, capable of showing you everything from minute sensor and performance data, to emissions status updates and even more serious malfunction diagnostics. 

To make Car Scanner ELM OBD2 work you will need an ELM327-based adaptor which can be found online starting at around $20. But once hooked up through WiFi or Bluetooth, you will be able to unlock a host of hidden features, which the app then organizes for you on a dash-board-like interface. This is the real petrolhead’s tool; a way of going a step deeper into your vehicle’s performance than you’d otherwise be able to – an app built for those of us who are always looking for new stuff to learn about our cars. 

©Car Scanner ELM OBD2
Car Scanner ELM OBD2 is a car tracker app that gives you countless diagnostics and data insights, right on your smartphone screen.

EXPLORE: ROADTRIPPERS

Planning a road trip can be a tedious business. And more often than not, it can come handy when we rely on input from other drivers. For this, look no further than the Roadtrippers.

While Roadtrippers does offer the option of planning regular turn-by-turn drives, it is its community-created suggestions for pre-packaged “iconic road trips” that leads us to include it on this list. Thanks to an extensive database of ready-made iconic drives, including feedback and reviews from other drivers, you can simply choose a classic driving route or “off-the-beaten-path” drives that can be synced easily with your phone. This gives you a great starting point for setting out on your next epic adventure – and potentially saves you countless hours of research and planning.

New iconic routes are often added and if you are really in the mood to geek out, you can even dive into the Roadtrippers very own road trip-focused Roadtrippers Magazine. 

  • FREE basic version, plus version available for $29.99/year.

  • iOS

  • Android

©Roadtrippers
Roadtrippers gives you a handful of exciting read-made road trips, right in the palm of your hand.

Next Gen Mobility in your hands

The My BMW App gives BMW drivers everything they need, right in the palm of their hands. Packed with useful features to enrich your life on and off the road and with an intuitive and innovative design, it has been designed from the bottom up to make your interaction with both your vehicle and BMW services as easy as never before.

The new My BMW App comes with a number of sensible features designed to make drivers’ lives better, on and off the road.

Developed to offer drivers an all-around digital tool for a truly connected automotive lifestyle, the My BMW App has been the go-to-app for countless BMW drivers since July 2020. As a one-stop solution for anyone looking for innovative ways to connect with the wide range of BMW offers, services, content and updates directly through the app, it offers a host of smart features, such as instant checks on your vehicle’s status, Quick Remote Services, the BMW Digital Key, BMW Points overview, Online Service Bookings – and way more beyond.

Throughout the development of the My BMW App, engineers and developers have paid particular attention to a state-of-the-art user experience, including a clear and intuitive design and overall performance – all to offer users of the many useful features the best experience possible.

In terms of functionality, the My BMW App offers a number of expedient features, including some brand new and some that users will already know from the BMW Connected App. If you are already accustomed to the BMW Connected App, you will, as such, find everything you already know and use in the My BMW App, too. But with updates to design, performance and overall user experience, as well as added features, the My BMW App will take you to a whole new level of interconnected, automotive life.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED

For easy navigation, the My BMW App is divided into three main categories that can be easily accessed individually with a swipe of a finger: “Vehicle”, “Map” and “Profile”.

Under the “Vehicle” tap, you will find the most important info pertaining to your car. A prominently placed “ALL GOOD” message instantly gives you a quick overview to tell you that everything is good to go. Do you have enough range for a quick joyride out of town? Did you remember to close and lock all doors? What is the current miles count? Have a glance to see what status is – including info on fuel levels, remaining range, charging status, vehicle location, and more. You can also find features that pertain to the overall maintenance of your car, like the BMW Remote Software Upgrade (➜ Read more:  Your guide to the ins and outs of BMW software updates).

The Remotely Control My Vehicle features let you take control of your car further, even when you’re not necessarily around. Use features like Remote Engine Start, Programmable Charging, initiate cabin climatization, or flash your headlights. If you own a vehicle with BMW Operating System 7 installed, you can also use the My BMW App to pair your vehicle with Amazon Alexa* or use the Digital Key feature if you are using an Apple iPhone (➜ Read more: BMW Digital Key: iPhone as car key).

If you are a BMW Plug-In Hybrid driver, you can also use the My BMW App to get a brief overview of your current BMW Points status. BMW Points are BMW’s exclusive reward scheme for BMW Plug-In Hybrid drivers. It allows you to collect points for each electric mile you drive, which can be redeemed in exchange for BMW Charging.

Check your activity and current balance at any time, including your current points total, or those you have gathered on this month’s drive. On the Rewards screen you will see an overview of your available rewards and where to redeem the points you have earned. Further useful features for Plug-In Hybrid and electric drivers include Charging Profile, Charging Push Notifications, Charging History, Set charging mode & departure time and overall Charging Status – all helpful tools designed to make your life, as an electric vehicle driver, a lot easier. 

Last but not least, the service feature online appointment scheduling has been designed to make your interaction with BMW services and workshops as easy as never before. Should your vehicle recognize an issue that requires service, it will notify you in the app and – if needed – show you the preferred or next available BMW Service. You can then make a service appointment directly in the app by choosing date and time.

Of course, these features are just some highlights. You can still use the My BMW App to find nearby parking, plan entire trips, request roadside assistance, access editorial content, purchase additional Connected Drive features like the BMW Drive Recorder, and much, much more. 

*Amazon, Alexa and all related marks are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

An app for BMW drivers everywhere

The My BMW App is FREE and available in both the Apple App Store and in the Google Play Store*. 

The My BMW App is already available to drivers in Germany, The United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Korea and China. As of today, the app will also be made available for the following markets:

  • France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

To follow in spring 2021 are:

  • Japan, South Africa, Russia, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Kuwait, The United Arab Emirates, Thailand, The USA, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and Taiwan.

* The My BMW App is compatible with all BMW vehicles built in 2014 or later. It requires installment of the ConnectedDrive Service and a compatible smartphone. The availability of individual My BMW App features depends on individual markets. For more info, please refer to the BMW FAQ overview for your market.

 

Photos: BMW; Author: David Barnwell

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