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Get your motor running with the XLR8 Android app

by Ian Black

There’s a reason novelty apps remain popular. As the adjective suggests, the best of the genre feel refreshing and fun and often cause a laugh-out-loud moment. XLR8 fits this bill and will likely turn what could be a dull car ride into comic relief.

The teaser video implies the idea came from the fact that hybrid vehicles make almost no sound when powered by their electric motors. In fact, the app seems to work for any car and performed pretty well in my gas-powered vehicle. What does it do? The app makes your car sound like a muscle car or high-end sports car, complete with engine idle noises and realistic acceleration sounds.

A helpful and detailed tutorial video inside the app shows you how to use it to the best effect. Launch the app inside your car and “secure it” either with a windshield mount, or as in my case, in a cup-holder. Press the big red “Start” button and a voice will tell you to start your car’s engine and make sure the vehicle is at a complete stop. The app will perform a quick calibration and tell you when it’s ready to go. From there, just drive as you normally would and the app will use the accelerometer of your device to make the appropriate engine noise, including gear shifts, pedal-to-the-metal whines, and rumbling engine idle. It’s almost guaranteed to make your unsuspecting passengers laugh.

In my testing, it worked well, certainly enough to be entertaining, but not 100 percent accurate. At some stops signs, the app continuing to sound like I was accelerating. The video tutorial suggests you hit the reset button when this happens to bring the sound back to “idle”.

The 99-cent app provides the sounds of one muscle car. If you want to try an Italian sports car, a stock racing car and other models, it will cost you extra (starting at $1.99). Let your Android deliver the “heavy metal thunder” for your next road trip.

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