Beat the traffic and find cheaper gas with the best Android apps for drivers

These apps will help you master the road and get more enjoyment out of short and long trips.

android driving apps
Derek Walter

Hitting the road is better with the right apps

You shouldn’t use your phone while driving, but that doesn’t mean it can’t help you out when hitting the road.

Android offers plenty of good tools for making your trips less painful, whether it’s just down the street to the store or a longer trek to the coast. With these tools you’ll be able to route your way around accidents, find gas, score parking, and even discover some historical gems.

So load up with our recommendations and get ready to claim your status as the ultimate road warrior.

waze android

Waze

Even though Google bought Waze and has brought some of its crowdsourced traffic alerts to Google Maps, the standalone app still offers a tremendous amount of power. 

Waze tips you off to traffic accidents, jams, and other areas to avoid (like a heavy law enforcement presence). The social aspect of it is pretty fun as well, as you can build your profile by sharing more information and connecting it to your Facebook account.

I’ve found Waze is smarter at navigating you through a crowded city. During a recent trip to Los Angeles it suggested routes through surface streets that bypassed the Google Maps suggestion, which would have been a slog through parking lot-style traffic on the freeway. 

It’s easy to see why Google thought Waze was worth it. It’s definitely a must-have driving companion.

Waze (free)

Gas Buddy

GasBuddy

Just as the name implies, this app can be your best friend when it comes to scoping out a gas station. Like Waze, it’s a user-powered community, but this one reports on the latest gas prices. 

You can filter the stations through various factors, such as finding one that has diesel or takes a credit card. Or if you’re loyal to a particular brand, you can find your favorite.

GasBuddy is also launching a coupon portal that can save you some cash when you're looking to gas up. The initial rollout will include offers from some convenience stores, such as Bell Stores and Corner Store, and specific brands like Quaker.

Sign up through Facebook to share prices and get ranked on the leaderboards if you’re the competitive type. Unfortunately, there’s no premium option to kill the ads, which would be well worth it.

GasBuddy (free)

google now driving

Google Search

Google Now, part of the Google search app, was already an excellent travel buddy. It’s turning into a pretty good driving aide also. 

Now if you’re far enough from home it will show you gas stations along the path. Because it’s one touch to Google search, it also serves as the fastest way to seek out a restaurant or coffee shop. There are also cards that will offer places to visit depending upon where you’re traveling.

It’s a good first step, but it could be even more powerful over time as Google mines more of your habits for specific data. I’m imagining more frequent gas station suggestions and price alerts while in town.

Google (free)

best parking

Best Parking

Nothing is worse than trying to figure out where to park. This is especially true in a large city where you’re not only fighting traffic, but trying to not spend too much money for temporary real estate.

Best Parking does a solid job at rounding up the available spots for you. It color codes them by price range, in the unlikely event you’re glancing at your phone while driving. 

The premium upgrade gives you advanced search filters, navigation with Google Maps, and breaks down the hourly rate. Think of the giant chart that you usually see when pulling into a lot; now it’s on your phone. You also get a picture of the entrance, which is helpful for making sure you’re in the right spot.

Best Parking (free)

history here

History Here

If you’re a history buff, or just want to know what there is to find on your next road trip, grab History Here. It drops pins near your location to show both major and little-known points of historical interest. 

You can also browse the map on your own, so you can get an idea if there’s anywhere you want to hit while on the road. A recent update brings in a feature called Tours, which organizes venues around major events, like the assassination of President Lincoln or a New York city culinary tour.

It’s great for where you live too, as there’s a good chance you’ll encounter an obscure event you didn’t know happened near you.

History Here (free)

drivemode

DriveMode

It’s easy to fall into the temptation to look at your screen when the phone buzzes, but too many times it has brought about tragedy.

This tool from AT&T silences your device so you don’t fall into the trap. You can enable it yourself or set it to become active when your phone’s accelerometer senses that you’re driving. There are other tweaks, like allowing calls to come through if you’re connected to a car’s Bluetooth system.

Unfortunately it’s only for AT&T devices. If Ma Bell really wants to do a public service, then it should make the app available for any device.

DriveMode (free)

nokia here android

Nokia Here

While Google Maps gets most of the attention on Android, Nokia Here is a solid alternative. It has a slick one-touch access to Glympse, which allows you to share your location with anybody very quickly.

It also saves maps offline and includes transit and traffic overlays on top of a good-looking interface. Given Nokia’s overseas headquarters, it has a lot of great data and suggestions about Europe, so consider loading it up if you’re headed across the pond.

Nokia Here (free)

luxe

Luxe

Luxe is like Uber for valet parking. It has partnered with hundreds of hotels and garages so you can reserve parking service when you arrive at your destination. 

It lays out the pricing details and confirms your arrival time so you can just head out without worrying about where you’re going to park. If you connect Luxe to your Google Wallet account it’s even more magical, as it removes a step in the paymetn process.

It’s fairly new, so the valet may need to be reminded of how you prepaid (this happened to me recently), but it was worth the minimal hassle to know I had a place to park.

Luxe is only available in San Francisco and Los Angeles right now, but is expanding rapidly.

Luxe (free)

parkmobile

Parkmobile

Many private and public parking lots are using the Parkmobile service, which allows you to pay for your parking right on your Android phone. 

It beats digging for change. However, the setup is a little cumbersome—you have to create an account with password (it’s time for everyone to start offering automatic login through Google, Facebook, or Twitter) and connect with PayPal, Verified by Visa, or a credit card.

Once you’re connected, however, it works very well. Tourist towns like Carmel-by-the-sea and major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco use it in many locations. You also can use the GPS feature to mark where you parked or save yourself a note.

Parkmobile (free)

beat the traffic

Beat the traffic

This isn’t as complete a mapping or navigation solution as Google Maps is, but Beat the Traffic throws in some interesting features. 

I like the availability of web cams, which sometimes are just fun to look at so you can validate why you’re not driving somewhere. You can also set up push alerts based on your route or share reports to other drivers. 

However there’s an annoying ad at the bottom, with no option to eliminate it through an in-app upgrade. Fixing this would make this app significantly more appealing.

Beat the Traffic (free)