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Smartphones - Useful apps while underway


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I have been relying more and more on my android smartphone to be my RVing co-pilot, and I'm currently searching for something particular in app form that maybe one of you can help me find. I realized I also may have ideas to share on other apps that I like to use while underway. So, I'll start first with an app I'm looking for: I am looking for an app or widget that will stay floating and on top of all other apps, that shows current windspeed at my location. I have realized that head winds and side winds have a good effect on my mileage and stability, and it would be useful/fun to me to have that handy on the screen while I'm also using Waze to navigate. Currently, if I think I'm fighting against a headwind (as opposed to just going slightly up hill, or truck is in regen mode) I'll click over to my homescreen to see a weather widget that displays the current windspeed. The less clicks, the better, which is why I'm looking for a small window that floats over everything else.

 

Now, here are the apps I have running while I drive:

 

Navigation: Waze. If I'm going somewhere I don't know or will be in an area where my phone doesn't have service, I'll fire up the ipad mini and use the Rand McNally app, which has preloaded maps. The RM app actually has some great features, including a windspeed and weather overlay for the map. But I'll always have Waze running on my phone regardless. It's great to know if there is traffic or hazards ahead, and if I see something that hasn't been reported, I consider it my civic duty to help warn wazers who are behind me. Waze is feature rich, so it takes some getting used to, but after you get the hang of it, it can be addictive. Google maps is a good backup, especially now since you can download off-line maps if you are in an area that doesn't have cell service.

 

Vehicle monitoring: I use Torque, which talks to my ODB sensor I have plugged into the ODBII port on the truck. From Torque, I can check and clear engine codes, as well as monitor sensor output. I currently have Torque create a floating widget for my coolant temp, which then sits on top of everything else, so I can see real-time coolant temps while also using Waze. Looking for something similar for windspeed.

 

Camera monitoring: When I have stuff in the toyhauler that I am concerned about (motos, quads, etc), I fire up Dormi on an old S4 phone and connect it to a portable router via wifi. I point the phone's camera towards the stuff I am monitoring, and then open Dormi on another old S4 I have, connect to the same router, and use this one as the monitor in the truck. I can then see in real-time what is happening in the RV, while I'm driving. Dormi seems to have a pretty good compression setup, and I believe I get near zero latency on the video transmission when connected via a local network. I don't have to pay for any cellular service, all data goes through locally. I'm looking to get a temporary clamp-on mount for the phone as well, so I can quickly mount the camera/phone outside of the rig in times where I need a backup camera, such as tight spots when I don't have a spotter. Maybe at some point I'll install a real backup solution, but I'm lazy and don't want to go routing wires, or spending the $$ for a good wireless setup.

 

Gas Prices: Gasbuddy! When I'm getting within an hour or so of needing to refuel, I'll check the Gasbuddy map in the app along my route, and look for the cheapest gas along the route. I can't begin to imagine the amount of money this free app has saved me over the course of my life. I just wish they had a feature that would tell you the cheapest gas along a given route, as well as a satellite view, so I can see what it looks like around the gas station (so I can figure out best entry and exit points). For now, i just do this manually. There is a Follow Me mode, which moves the map along with your movement, but I rarely use this since I always have Waze on top.

 

Music: Amazon Music app. If you have Amazon Prime, the subscription is included, with no ads, Also, you can off-line download music, in case you are in the boonies. I used to used Spotify (free), but I've noticed Amazon's music collection has gotten better, and haven't gone back to Spotify's ad supported version.

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I use Waze when we travel around in the car. But towing I ONLY, ONLY go by what my Garmin Dezl 760 states. It has not gotten me into any troubles in the 13 months of touring the US. I still do watch signs just In case. Not sure what you are towing, but Waze can not be programmed in with height, weight, width and hazardous material. If the route is a little longer, who cares as I want to see the US. My main objective is to get there safely and in one piece.

 

Gas buddy is a GREAT app. I use it all the time. But when driving, I focus more on the road and what the other drivers are doing. If you need to look at apps, I would pull over and look at them. As destracted drivers these days are real problems that are killing people.

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Hi,

 

Thanks to the OP for the comprehensive list, and +1 for Waze.

 

About Gasbuddy, we were regular users but Waze's "find gas station" functionality has pretty much outclassed Gasbuddy for us, as it gives us a list of stations with their fuel prices along the route we're already driving, along with a count of how many miles and minutes it would "cost" to drive to these stations *and* back to our original route.

 

And after we pick a station from the list, Waze seamlessly adds it to the current route so we get both the best route to the chosen station *and* turn-by-turn directions on how to get there *and* back to our original route after we've refueled.

 

Can't really think of anything much better than that... IMHO if Waze would only allow us to enter vehicle height and then take this into consideration during routing (eg avoid low passes etc), then it would be perfect.

 

Cheers,

--

Vall.

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Hi,

 

But when driving, I focus more on the road and what the other drivers are doing. If you need to look at apps, I would pull over and look at them. As destracted drivers these days are real problems that are killing people.

Agreed. What we do is to split the driving between us as "pilot" (the one sitting at the wheel) and "copilot" (the other, riding as sidekick) so the former takes care of just the driving, and the latter operates the smartphone, computer, GPS, paper maps/info books, CB radio, etc. Works great for us.

 

Cheers,

--

Vall.

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We have a towing speed limit on our toad of 65mph and have added to our app list Speed Alarm and Speed warning(gray one, there are 2). Both sound an alarm when we exceed 65. Why 2? We have found out that sometimes one will turn off for unknown reasons. We also use Iexit when on the interstate.

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Cool to know, I may use this for my moto since my speedo isn't correct after changing gearing. I have my phone paired to my bluetooth helmet so I should be able to hear the alarm.

 

Waze now has a warning on their speedo indicator that shows if you are above the posted speed limit. It does not sound an alarm however, so its hard to know unless you are looking at the screen. The Rand McNally RV app has audible and visual notification for going +X amount over the limit, X being a number that you can specify.

 

We have a towing speed limit on our toad of 65mph and have added to our app list Speed Alarm and Speed warning(gray one, there are 2). Both sound an alarm when we exceed 65. Why 2? We have found out that sometimes one will turn off for unknown reasons. We also use Iexit when on the interstate.

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I'll have to try the Waze gas map again. When it first came out, it did not have nearly as many stations as Gasbuddy did. I like Gasbuddy since it seems to have a large following, so the price updates are usually fresh......

 

Hi,

Thanks to the OP for the comprehensive list, and +1 for Waze.

About Gasbuddy, we were regular users but Waze's "find gas station" functionality has pretty much outclassed Gasbuddy for us, as it gives us a list of stations with their fuel prices along the route we're already driving, along with a count of how many miles and minutes it would "cost" to drive to these stations *and* back to our original route.

And after we pick a station from the list, Waze seamlessly adds it to the current route so we get both the best route to the chosen station *and* turn-by-turn directions on how to get there *and* back to our original route after we've refueled.

Can't really think of anything much better than that... IMHO if Waze would only allow us to enter vehicle height and then take this into consideration during routing (eg avoid low passes etc), then it would be perfect.

Cheers,
--
Vall.

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I would love to have a gas app that shows a Google Earth view of the station. So many stations we will not enter. We are to the point of if we see a station with easy in/easy out that is where we go.

You can put Google maps in Satellite view or in map view. There have been times where I use my Google maps on my phone and switch to Sat view to see the actual layout of a station.

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Yep! My only feature request with Gasbuddy (or Waze) is that I can see the sat view directly in the app. Otherwise, i have to copy and paste the gas station address into Google Maps. First world problems, I suppose.... :-)

 

You can put Google maps in Satellite view or in map view. There have been times where I use my Google maps on my phone and switch to Sat view to see the actual layout of a station.

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There is only 2D (on top) for Google Maps Sat. But in the lower left hand corner it shows street view. Click on that and you can "drive" around the station. You can do "3D" via the Google Earth app (there is a link to it in Google Maps Android, in the menu)

 

You are right, Gasbuddy does not allow for the copying of the address. What I do is click on directions and it takes me to Waze (or Google Maps, whichever one you choose as default). if you choose Google Maps, you can then see sat view of the station when it takes you to the Google Maps app.

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Android Apps I use a lot full timing include:

Swiss army knife - a collection of tools including magnifier (lighted), excellent level, flashlight, calculator, etc.

GPS Test and Satellite Director - for aiming the Satellite TV antenna

Mosquito Repellent - which I wouldn't have dreamed would actually work, but seems to be quite effective.

Police Scanner - lets you listen to emergency services, pretty much anywhere. Way better than the weather radio.

WiFi Analyzer

Barcode Scanner - great for looking stuff up while shopping, finding coupons easy, price comparison, etc.

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