Tech Review: Car apps keep you safe, moving

Apps that help users stay connected.

Apps that help users stay connected. Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images

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There's still a lot of holiday season left, which could put added stress on you -- and your car. These apps can keep you gassed up, charged up and fixed up as you finish your holiday shopping, visiting and traveling.


(iOS, Android; free)

How much are those new brakes or broken fuel pump going to set you back? RepairPal offers estimates within a range of what is considered a fair price for scores of auto repairs. The app provides locations of repair shops and rates them on factors including experience of their mechanics, types of diagnostic equipment they use, customer satisfaction and whether they guarantee their repairs.


(iOS, Android; free)

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If you're one of the growing numbers of Long Islanders who've switched to an electric car, this is an indispensable app, especially if you're taking a holiday trip. PlugShare offers information on where to find more than 18,000 electric-vehicle charging stations in the United States and Canada. Locations are listed on a map, with real-time status about availability. You can also set an alert to be informed when new stations are added near you.


(iOS, Android; free)

This popular app -- it has been downloaded more than 10 million times -- posts gasoline prices at stations throughout the United States. Using GPS, it posts the lowest prices near you, or you can customize the app for any location. The prices are not official; they are crowdsourced reports from thousands of users. As an incentive to become a GasBuddy, users who report prices receive points that make them eligible to win a $250 gas card.

MyCar Locator Free

(Android; free)

How stressful is it to have an armful of holiday purchases and you can't remember where your car is in a mall parking lot with a sea of SUVs that look just like yours? MyCar Locator uses GPS to guide you back to your car. It also has a notes feature, so you can jot down detailed information about your parking space. iOS users can check out the similar Honk (99 cents).


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Tech Bytes



'Misery' loves company


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Nothing can tamper the joy of the holiday season faster than hours of waiting at the airport. Perhaps you'll feel less gloomy if you knew travelers elsewhere were having an even harder time than you. Flight-tracking website FlightAware's Misery Map ( graphically shows delays occurring at major airports. Each hub is displayed as a circle, and the more red in it, the more miserable you're going to be.


Like-minded donors squeeze charities


Some potential donors to charities may be clicking instead of giving. A University of British Columbia study found that when given the chance to "like" a charity on social media, some would-be contributors are less likely to donate. Researchers said social media turns some people into "slacktivists" who believe voicing support for a cause online is a substitute for donating time or money.


Tablets to overtake desktops, laptops


If you've spent time shopping this holiday season, you've noticed an abundance of tablets for sale as once-mighty desktop and laptop computers are relegated to also-ran status. By next year, tablets will comprise 50 percent of the PC market, according to tech research firm Canalys. Apple and Samsung are forecast to sell the most tablets next year, but Canalys notes "competition in the tablet market continues to heat up." -- PETER KING

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