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I grew up going to car shows, collecting dealer booklets, and test driving rides with my dad (I swear, it had nothing to do with living in Michigan). So the recent surge in car-related apps in the Android market got my fuel pumping. From the practical to the extravagant, more car-lovers are finding apps designed just for them. Here are some of my top picks.
News, reviews and more
Kelley Blue Book has just crashed the Android market with KBB.com, a free app for researching cars. Great for buyers, KBB gives you reviews, local dealers and the dirty details you need to know before facing the salesman. Be an expert on new and used cars, watch videos and more.
Need a quick fix? Automobile Magazine is your daily car news source, full of automobile photos, highlighting the interior, exterior and everything in between. The free app also includes videos, editorial reviews and easy sharing, so your friends can get in on the action.
I wouldn't dare miss an episode of Top Gear (I'm even giving the latest American version a try), so the Top Gear Review app was a given for this list. Get the latest reviews and video clips from Clarkson and his definitively British bunch, along with news from Car and Driver and Motor Trend. The $1.99 Android app is overpriced, but provides quick, easy access for those who don't have the BBC channel.
If you like to drive, then you'll probably get a kick out of this Car Performance app. If you've got an empty lot and some free time, do some test runs to see what your car is really made of. Do a timed or custom run, measure acceleration and deceleration and your speed. The full version (just under $4) of this Android app lets you store your records and more.
If you love your car as much as you say, you'll want to take good care of it. Monitor your automobile's health with the My Cars app. Check fuel management, set reminders for things like oil checks and car payments, and export your stats and charts to a spreadsheet. You can track two cars with this free Android app.
Car Tunes is an almost hands-free music player designed just for drivers. It uses voice search and quick-swipe gesture controls so you can keep your eyes on the road. Already integrated with Android's Car Home for dock access, the ad-free version of Car Tunes costs 99 cents.
Just for your car
OnStar has gone mobile, with an Android app to keep you connected at any time. Keep track of your car's mileage and maintenance schedule, unlock doors and start your car remotely and more. The app is free to download, but it won't be much good if you're not a registered GM user. Check for the many other GM Android apps, including ones for Buick and Chevy drivers.
Ford drivers can get in on the Android fun, too, with the recently released SYNC app. Destinations, powered by Inrix, offers GPS navigation via SYNC, along with traffic, directions and other information. This is a navigation tool, but it's personalized, based on your SYNC profile, importing contacts and saving searches. This app is free.
Another manufacturer to recently launch an Android app is Volvo, with HeaterStart. It's not nearly as involved as OnStar, or even Sync's navigation, but it will remotely start your Volvo from the comfort of your home. What a welcome gift, given the blistering cold winter we're having. This app is also free.