Road trip! Get your motor running, head out on the highway…
Okay, instead of hopping on choppers and looking for adventure in whatever comes your way, you'll load the family into the SUV or minivan for your summer vacation.
Whichever mode of transport or type of road trip you're embarking upon this season, it doesn't hurt to do a little scouting of the road ahead. This is where a new free app comes in, called, appropriately, RoadAhead, unveiled in the iTunes store this morning.
RoadAhead is not your typical location-based app that simply tells you the amenities around you – restaurants, gas stations, banks, motels, rest stops, hospitals, et al. Instead, RoadAhead assumes you're speeding down/across an interstate at just above the legal speed limit (after all, you do like smoke and lightning, heavy metal thunder, racing the wind, and the feeling that you're under, but not the sirens and blinking lights of a state trooper in your rear view mirror) wondering what amenities await you at the next exit or the exit after that or the exit after that.
You use the app's GPS to pinpoint your freeway location, or you simply tell RoadAhead what highway you're on. You choose the types of amenities you want to locate, how many merchant types you want the app to list in each category, how many exits ahead you want the app to search (including exits devoid of amenities), how far from the exit you want it to search (from one to 10 miles), and what kind of gas to look for (regular, unleaded, premium and especially diesel).
RoadAhead assists you in choosing your exit amenities; restaurant reviews are provided by Yelp, complete with star ratings and user comments and, for the budget conscious, gas station listings include the price per gallon and the date the price was last checked.
You can check an area map with all the nearby amentias pinpointed. Or, once you've chosen your amenity destination, you get a "Call" button – not a phone number, just a button that says "Call" – and a small map showing the amenity's location. Tap on the pop-up address/road sign balloon, and RoadAhead switches to iPhone's map app for purple-line directions from where you are.
One caveat both myself and RoadAhead must stress: please please PLEASE don't poke around this app while you're driving. Hand the iPhone to who's ever in the passenger seat. We don't want you to end up like Captain America and Billy.
If you remember, last week (yes, I know, you're lucky if you remember last night) I told you about an expense tracking app called Expensify and hinted at a major improvement, which I can now tell you about.
Like its competitor, ProOnGo, Expensify now automates a lot of the manual expense input drudgery. The app scans and optical character reads receipt and pulls the merchant, date and amount data off the receipt.
In addition, credit card charges imported into Expensify are automatically matched with their associated imported receipts. Expensify also knows what category the expense belongs in based on your past expense activity.
I've been using this scan, and not only does it save an enormous amount of time, but it's actually cool to watch how accurate it is.
You will have to pay for this optical receipt reading, however – 20 cents per receipt to start, but you can earn five free receipt scans each time you invite a friend to join.