fun and games

* We test car-related phone apps * Apps for Android devices * From 'black box' video to parking locators...

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Pete Barden
21 November 2011

Here we have some Android toys for the grown-ups in the front and kids in the back.

IonRoad Augmented Driving
Get it here
Cost Free
Size 6.2mb

What is it? The IonRoad app watches the road ahead and warns the driver when the car gets too close to the vehicle in front, or if a collision becomes likely.

How does it work? The app has an attractive interface, which shows the forward view with an overlay of relevant information, such as speed and distance to the vehicle ahead. If the driver gets too close to the vehicle, the distance read-out will change from green to yellow (for caution) then red for danger. There's also an audible alert to warn the driver. It also works at night.

Verdict The IonRoad app is an extremely slick and clever piece of software. However, the wealth of information on the display, such as speed, distance and colour-coded risk level, was too tempting not to gawp at taking our eyes from the road. Fortunately, the app will run in the background, making it far less distracting and slightly more likely to help prevent an accident rather than causing one. Overall, though, we're not convinced this succeeds as a safety device.

Colouring Book Cars
Get it here
Cost Free
App size 817k

What is it? The perfect app for any budding car artists in the rear seats. Kids can use this app to colour 15 pictures.

How does it work? Kids can choose the colour they want, then fill in sections of the car by tapping the screen.

Verdict It won't last the length of the A303 on a bank holiday weekend trip to Cornwall, but it will certainly keep the kids happy between refreshment breaks. Simple to use, and there's no annoying soundtrack to drive the adults potty, either.