Best apps for iPhone and Android mobiles

iPhone app
17 Oct, 2013 3:19pm Jamie Fretwell

Best free apps and paid-for apps that help you get the most out of your car

Get the most out of your car at the pumps and on the road with smartphone apps that measure fuel economy and performance. We put five of the best of both to the test. Whether you’re concerned about the cost of filling up, or just want to impress your mates with your car’s performance figures, there’s almost certainly a smartphone app that can help.

There’s a host of data loggers that can be used to record your car’s acceleration and calculate fuel economy, but which is best for each task? We downloaded a mix of free and paid-for apps to find the ideal driving companions. How did we test them, you ask? Well, to rate ease of use, we scrolled through the menus and looked for clear interfaces and legible text. 

Our MPG calculators had to give accurate reports of our mileage that were easy to understand. Bonus points went to those that could be used to track maintenance costs. All apps scored highly if you could share data via E-mail or social networking sites, and value for money was our final consideration.

Performance logs

1. g-tac free

Price: Free
Available for: iOS

The superb g-tac free is hard to beat. While there are two paid for apps in the g-tac stable – a £6.99version adds a horsepower calculator, while the £13.99 pro version gets rid of adverts – this free app is more than enough for the average motorist. It’s easy enough to get started, with clear instructions, and it provides comprehensive data from your maximum speed, brake distances and acceleration times, all accurate to 5mph.

2. Dynolicious

Price: £5.99
Available for: iOS

Unlike g-tac, there’s no free version of Dynolicious, but it’s worth paying for. You can export your results via E-mail, Facebook or Twitter, and you can save runs from more than one car as well. The display looks great, and it’s simple to use, plus was accurate to within 1mph of our VBOX. Track-day enthusiasts will also like the skidpan measurements, which show g-forces pulled in corners.

3. PocketDyno

Price: Free
Available for: iOS

PocketDyno put in a strong challenge to our top two, as it’s extremely easy to understand, and you get clear instructions about how to start – either tap to get going, or double tap for a traffic light countdown. However, you can’t store the results of more than one car, and there are far too many adverts. It was accurate to within 5mph of our VBOX, and provided plenty of data, but you can’t export any of it.

4. Speedometer HUD Speed box

Price: £2.49
Available for: iOS

For this price, we expected more than just a speedometer. The display is clearer than Speedo HD Free, and the interface is really slick. We also love the fact you can put your iPhone on the dash and the app will act as a head-up display. But it doesn’t provide as much data as the other apps, and you can’t export any data. Almost as accurate as the Dynolicious, though.

5. Speedo HD Free

Price: Free

Available for: iOS

We hoped that revisiting this app after a year would have given the developer time to address our previous concerns, but sadly that’s not the case. The app only shows your speed, and worse still, it didn’t reflect what was on our VBOX– the app was out by about 7mph. There’s no head-up display, and you can’t record any acceleration or top speed, so this app could never hope to challenge for top honours.

MPG Calculators 

1. Gas Manager

Price: Free
Available for: Android, iOS

A recent update propels Gas Manager to victory. The interface looks great, and we love how it displays the uploaded picture of your car. There are plenty of graphs to help track your mpg, and inputting info is simple, as is exporting reports. Unlike our recommended choice Road Trip (right), it can only track your fuel consumption, but it does show nearby fuel stations and car parks. Plus it’s free, and is available for Android and iOS. 

2. Road Trip

Price: £2.99
Available for: iOS

A great app. Inputting data is simple, as is exporting your reports. You can upload a picture of your car, and use the app to record info on more than one vehicle. The summary crams all the info on to one page, and you can tilt your iPhone to view each graph in landscape mode. It’s the most expensive of the mpg calculators, but you can use it to track garage costs, too.

3. Car Care

Price: £1.99
Available for: iOS

Looks as good as Gas Manager, and lets you input maintenance costs plus fill-ups. It’s not free like our Best Buy, but it’s slightly cheaper than Road Trip. The data entry process is a little more complicated, and we don’t like the fact you have to search for costs – mpg is the main focus on this app. But the pitstop feature, which times your fill-up, is fun, and we like the way your car’s picture becomes your background. 

4. Gas Cubby

Price: £1.49
Available for: iOS

Gas Cubby differs from our top two as you have to enter your car’s make and model before getting started – and our 2012 Peugeot wasn’t on the list, so we had to input the manufacturer’s claimed figures manually. Still, it’s very easy to understand, and the menus are clear – if a little dull compared to rivals’. And while you can export reports, it’s slightly irritating that you have to enter the time of each fill-up. 

5. AccuFuel

Price: 69p
Available for: iOS

We were disappointed with AccuFuel. The display is clear, but you have to scroll individual wheels (rather than use the keypad) to enter your mileage, which takes too much time. We’d also prefer it if you could enter the total cost, rather than the pence per litre price, and the graphs are rather simplistic. You can’t assign pictures of your cars to their reports, but at least you can export data.