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Two New iPhone Apps Go Beyond Navigation

If you’re stuck behind the wheel every morning, two new apps that aim to connect you with other drivers might become as much a part of your commute as lukewarm coffee and the voice of Carl Kasell.

Until now, there haven’t been too many iPhone apps that help with your daily commute. Sure, you downloaded TomTom for your iPhone and it’s turn-by-turn directions got you safely to your August vacation destination with nary an “are we there yet?” from the kids, but it’s no good on your daily slog to work since you already know where you’re going. This month, Aha Mobile released an iPhone app (shown at right) that allows drivers to interact with homemade traffic reports and entertainment. Similarly, TrafficTweet from Mobomo uses Twitter and Google Maps to report real-time traffic conditions for the benefit of other motorists.


Call us old-fashioned, but both apps sound like a lot cooler, 21st-century version of CB radio. Still, anything that fosters a sense of community among motorists and makes driving to work more fun than a high-speed steel cage match is fine with us, rubber duck.

According to its creators, Aha aims to answer the question, “What’s the guy a mile ahead of me experiencing?” With an interface they say is safe for use at freeway speeds, Aha allows users to post their own 15-second traffic reports to enlighten other drivers, warn fellow motorists about speed traps without flashing headlights and even sing along with the radio or complain about the jerk who just cut you off. Though they didn’t suggest it, we imagine you could also flirt with the hottie in the Mazda that you pass every morning.


In addition to Aha’s driver-to-driver network, the app also features map-free connections to nearby restaurants and businesses through Yelp and available restrooms from SitOrSquat. “Aha is uniquely delivering information that every driver wants in a new and better way that doesn’t involve studying tiny maps while you drive,” Aha Mobile CEO David Acker said in a statement. “Regardless of the source, Aha filters and customizes the information you want based on your preferences and location, presenting it in a format that limits driving distractions and helps you make smart choices along your familiar routes.”

TrafficTweet relies on a public Twitter feed that contains real-time traffic data from real drivers. Rather than relying from data from a third-party provider of traffic data, TrafficTweet tries to put Chopper Dave out of work by crowdsourcing the job. Don’t worry about texting while driving: the simple user interface allows one click for a speed report and two clicks to report an accident or road work.

“With the click of a single button, TrafficTweet is really the first way for drivers to, in effect, let off some steam about driving conditions in an easy, safe and productive way that allows other drivers to benefit from real-time updates tweeted by the community,” Mobomo founder Barg Upender said in a statement. Those of us who have been stuck in traffic on a back road listening to radio reports that don’t mention the jam appreciate the use of the Twitter platform. All it takes is one other person stuck on a road to report a jam so that other drivers don’t make the same mistake. Plus, it’s really comforting to see that traffic sucks everywhere from the Netherlands to Australia.

Photo/Video: Aha Mobile. Aha and TrafficTweet allow drivers to safely share relevant commuting information on their iPhones.

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I'd like to see an interface that's "safe for freeway speeds." And yes, I did click through and watch the video...