Automotive

Car Check is a nifty Windows Phone app that lets you track and manage your automotive expenses. Car Check has the ability to track your gasoline costs, maintenance costs, set reminders for scheduled maintenance and back all the data up to your OneDrive or Dropbox accounts.

The Windows Phone app also has the ability to chart your fuel consumption, distribution of automotive costs and fuel prices. Add Live Tile support and Car Check isn't a bad option to consider to help you monitor your automotive costs.

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While gas prices continue to rise, SmartGas is a Windows Phone app that could help you find the best fuel price in your area. SmartGas will not only search for the lowest price for gas in your area but also calculate your smartest station based on the round trip cost of driving to and from the station.

I liked the concept behind SmartGas and saving a few dollars never hurts. However, a few performance issues, a cluttered appearance and some confusing in-app purchases holds this app back. On the plus side, the app is a universal app for both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. Bottom line - SmartGas has potential but needs a little renovation.

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Auto Witness is an interesting Windows Phone 8 app that could come in handy should you find yourself in a traffic accident. Auto Witness is a video recording app that sets up on a loop and saves your video automatically if a rapid acceleration or deceleration is detected. The app can also automatically save the videos to your OneDrive account.

The Windows Phone 8 app was chosen as runner-up in the 2014 Nokia Create Competition (Freestyle Master Category) and while it does a nice job of recording your travels, there are a few downsides.

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One particularly interesting talk out of Build showcased Microsoft’s plan to bring Windows Phone into the car with a new embedded software concept. The idea here will be to project the data from the phone onto the dash display in a usable, safe format, but as you can see, a lot of the Windows visual style is retained. This is great, considering most embedded car system interfaces (Microsoft’s included) are pretty ugly.

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Zens has a new Qi wireless charger, and this one is for your car. The aptly-named "ZENS Qi Wireless Car Charger" is set to hit markets on April 15th for an eye-melting €69.99 (US$96.54). It's designed to split into your cup holder and has a slot on its top designed to accommodate smartphones with displays up to 5 inches. Blessedly, the vast majority of phones that support Qi charging (both Android and Windows Phone) fall into that range.

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Car Starter is a dashboard companion app for Windows Phone 8 devices that puts essential apps and information at your fingertips.  The app was updated to version 1.7, which optimizes the app for 1080p phones, adds a few new shortcuts, and adds a weather forecast feature as an in-app purchase.

The 1080p optimization has five main buttons instead of the four and four tiles running across the top of the app.  Live Music Access and Metrotube apps have been added to the shortcut button lists.  You also have French and Polish language support along with a few bug fixes and stability tweaks.

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Another week, another official app. We’ve literally seen a big app or two hit the Windows Phone Store every week for the past 7 months. Drive a 2010 or newer Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick, or GMC? You might want to pick up an OnStar subscription for your whip now that there’s an official app for Windows Phone.

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Have a car? Ever wanted a remote start system for it? If so, we may have just found the missing link to get you to buy one as the official Viper SmartStart app for Windows Phone 7.x and 8 has become available in the Store.

The Viper SmartStart is a two part system that relies on hardware (the remote start equipment in your car) and the software (an app on your smartphone), creating a powerful combination to make your car “smart” for 2013 (or make it possessed like Christine, whichever). The hardware isn’t cheap, starting at $399 for the basic system plus installation, with optional addon modules like GPS, Bluetooth and security to further enhancement.

In short, with the basic system you can push a virtual button on your smartphone to start your car, lock the doors or pop the trunk. For some of us up north, this is a nice feature for the winter. Down south, it's a great way to cool down your car before you get in. Throw in the alarm system and you can enable/disable that, use the panic button and more. Have more money to spend? Toss on the GPS system to enable social-media checkins (seriously), lockdown alert (tells you if your car moved), vehicle location, speed and more.

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A Windows powered car is not anything new; Ford has been factory installing their Windows Embedded in-vehicle communications and entertainment system, SYNC, with cars since 2007.

Now, six years later, Fiat is getting in on the action by installing a redesigned Uconnect system based on the architecture into their latest 500L model. The Fiat 500 was first produced in 1957 until sales plummeted in 1975; the rebirth of the car, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, was in 2007. To this day, the Fiat 500 is still considered as one of the first city vehicles and as an automobile that truly redefined the term "small car".

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In a press release today, Directed Electronics announced that it has been working with Microsoft to bring its Viper SmartStart automotive app, which allows users to lock/unlock, and of course, start their vehicle via smartphone, to the Windows Phone platform "later in the year."  In conjunction with the announcement, Microsoft representatives demonstrated a beta version for those in attendance at the BUILD conference in Anaheim, CA. 

"We're very excited about partnering with Microsoft to extend Viper SmartStart products to the Windows Phone 7 platform," said Mike Simmons, Executive VP of Directed Electronics. "Our developers were able to quickly bring the app to Windows Phone 7 because they are so familiar with the Microsoft environment."

SmartStart, created by the same Viper brand of car alarms and other accessories, has a wide range of other smartphone-based apps for the car and home, though it's not clear from the press release if all of them are equally as close to arriving for WP7.  You can see a demo of the various functions on their website.

Aside from the clear convenience of what this app brings to users, what is even more interesting is what else Simmons had to say: "We look forward to collaborating with Microsoft in other areas, including jointly developing advanced solutions for the cloud connected car."  We have seen how Microsoft has been expanding and integrating SkyDrive into Mango, so could this mean such things as cloud-based music playback for the car?  This could take the Windows brand beyond just the PC\Phone\Gaming unification that we already know is coming.

Source: PRNewsWire

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Review: Autofile Plus v5.0.4

Autofile Plus is a handy application that helps you track just about everything you need to track concerning your car. The WakefieldSoft application consists of two parts, one for your PC and the other for your Windows Mobile phone.

Key features include:

  • Track multiple vehicles
  • Track Fuel Records (re-fueling) and fuel economy
  • Track trip miles by category, purpose and destination
  • Track Automobile services and expenses
  • Print reports and summaries
  • Graph fuel economy, miles driven, fuel costs, and service costs.

To see how Autofile Plus handles the road, just follow the break.

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