MWC 2012: Smartphone Apps, Gadgets For Cars

Fresh from Mobile World Congress 2012, check out new apps and devices designed to make your car time more productive, enjoyable, and safe.

If you're perfectly happy with your car and smartphone integration, you're lucky. But if your phone sometimes won't connect to your hands-free system or if you occasionally get lost, these apps and gadgets deserve your attention. Cobra, SuperTooth, Novatel, and CoPilot Live showcased new apps and devices at Mobile World Congress 2012, demonstrating how to make driving more enjoyable and safe. And if you don't mind a bit of Big- Brother-style monitoring, you could even cut your car insurance costs.

Mobile apps and gadgets developed by Cobra do everything from find your keys to report speed zones. The iRadar device adds new Cobra iRadar Community information to allow users to warn and report caution areas in real-time. Companion apps for iOS and Android display visual alerts from the detector. Cobra Tag is for people who constantly leave keys or other valuables behind. The sleek key fob can be attached to anything. Bluetooth powers the separation alarm that triggers whenever the phone and key fob are separated. Cobra Tag apps are available for Android, iOS and Blackberry.

Cobra also showed off the first smart charger for Android phones: Cobra JoyRide. With availability expected for July 2012, Joyride allows users to configure smartphone settings as a driver enters or exits the car. At the push of a button, drivers can launch GPS navigation, answer calls, or listen to music. The companion app's unique "Car Finder" mode provides walking directions back to where the phone was disconnected from the charger, ensuring you no longer waste time wandering around parking lots.

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How about a hands-free speakerphone that also streams music from your smartphone? Take a look at Crystal, SuperTooth's stylish new gadget. Crystal works with any Bluetooth A2DP-enabled smartphone and handles automatic pairing and multi-point connection. Additionally Crystal supports voice recognition dialing and can announce turn-by-turn navigation.

UBI, or usage-based insurance, customizes car insurance based on a driver's unique profile. Novatel and SeeControl demonstrated a system that focuses on ease-of-use and plug-and-play capabilities for consumers. The new Novatel Wireless Spider devices support capturing driver behavior data such as speed, miles driven, and possible accident or theft. The system also provides helpful tools for consumers such as diagnostics and oil change notifications.

CoPilot Live's GPS app is free and will be released soon for Android and iOS devices. Providing maps stored on the device for offline use, the app promises not to burn through a data plan. An optional in-app purchase upgrades the app to provide guided, turn-by-turn navigation as well as a 3-D map option and safety alerts.

Want more information on how to improve your driving experience? Click through to the slideshow for a showcase of phone apps and gadgets for the modern driver.