Driving apps for Android reviewed - safer driving

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  • We test car-related phone apps
  • Apps for Android devices
  • From 'black box' video to parking locators
Here we look at ways of sending and receiving sms messages and e-mails without the need to touch your phone.

Text By Voice
Info
Get it here
Cost Free
Size 5.9mb

What is it? This app allows you to receive and send text messages without touching your phone or looking away from the road.

How does it work? The Text By Voice app runs in the background of your phone and will alert you to text messages as they arrive; announcing the sender's name then reading out the message. You can also compose a text message by saying 'text by voice' then following spoken instructions – without ever having to touch the phone. There's also the option of an auto-responder, which automatically replies to messages if you're driving.

Text By Voice app in action
Below is a message we composed and sent while stationary in traffic. Louder background noise did affect how successful attempts were to use the app.

Text By Voice (mp3)

Verdict The app does work – sometimes. However, we found it frustrating trying to make the speech-recognition software understand what we were saying on a regular basis. Listen to the sound clip, above, which showcases the software through a message we sent while stationary in traffic. The incoming text reader is very efficient.


DriveSafe.ly
Info
Get it here
Cost Free
Size 1.6mb

What is it? An app that lets you listen to e-mail and sms text messages without the need to touch your mobile phone.

How does it work? Simply start the app, let it run in the background and wait for e-mails and texts to be read to you. You can even respond to these messages using voice-recognition technology.

DriveSafe.ly app in action
Below is a message we composed and sent while stationary in traffic. Louder background noise did affect how successful attempts were to use the app.

DriveSafe.ly (mp3)

Verdict As with the Text By Voice application, we found the results were rather sketchy with this app. While it was better at deciphering what we were saying, there were far too many connection errors, which prevented messages being received or sent. Listen to our recording above to hear how the app performed when we tested it while stationary in traffic.


Driving Thoughts
Info
Get it here
Cost Free
Size 2.1mb

What is it? Ever had a great idea while driving, but forgotten it by the time you can safely jot it down? This app allows you to speak your mind and have it e-mailed to you.

How does it work? You simply touch ae button on your phone's screen and speak your message. The speech-recognition software processes this, then e-mails your message to an address you've previously entered.

Does it work?
See below for several 'thoughts' we sent – and the resulting e-mails we received.

Sent via app Hello I'll be 20 minutes late for the meeting
Received Hello I'll be 20 minutes late for the meeting

Sent via app Remember to buy pepperoni pizza
Received Remember to buy pepperoni pizza

Sent via app I have a doctor's appointment at 8.30 on Wednesday
Received I have a doctor's appointment at 830 on Wednesday

Sent via app Remember to buy anniversary present
Received Remember to buy anniversary presents

It was almost word perfect. However, we should point out that the car was idling when we sent these text messages, so a noisier environment could adversely affect its performance.

Verdict A great idea, which you can pull over and use without having to scrabble around the car looking for a scrap of paper and that pen you dropped beneath the seat. As you can see from the test results above, it's pretty accurate.


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