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Car gizmos

Smartphone time-wasters for car fans Add to ...

There have been a few famous cars that have graced the silver screen and television in the past, and now there are smartphone apps paying homage to the speedometers and dashes of these vehicles. Part useless and part nostalgic fun, these apps take a short trip down memory lane.

iKITT

$0.99

Available at: Apple App Store

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It’s arguable that a big reason why Knight Rider gave David Hasselhoff a chance to actually have an acting career is the role William Daniels played as KITT, the unmistakable voice inside that famous ’82 Trans Am.

Unfortunately, Daniels doesn’t say much in this app other than two dozen or so canned quotes. When the iPhone is upright in portrait mode, the famous red light bars are flanked by buttons to activate a phrase from KITT, but tapping the red light also brings up one of the quotes randomly (doing this with the phone plugged in through an FM transmitter or AUX-in port sounds great). When in landscape, the screen shifts to a replica of the speedometer layout used in the original car.

Once you’ve allowed iKITT to use your location, it uses the phone’s GPS to pinpoint where you are and the speed you’re driving at, but it can be a bit slow in updating it – sometimes taking a second or two to display. It also doesn’t let you play music in the background, nor does it even have the Knight Rider theme playing, either.

DeLorean Time Circuit

$0.99

Available at: Apple App Store, Android Market

The Back to the Future trilogy had one prop that was probably as popular as anything else coming out of those films – the DeLorean DMC-12. The famous car and time machine designed by the eccentric Doc Brown had both an awesome speedometer and a cool time circuit.

This app has an “88 mph Time Travel Simulation” where it uses the phone’s built-in GPS to monitor your speed, and once you’ve hit the peak, it plays some authentic sounds from the machine, switching from the “present” to the “future destination.”

Now, driving at 88 mph (141 km/h) makes no sense just to see what the app does, so it would’ve been better if it just did it the way the Flux Capacitor app does. The time circuit is cool, but it would also be better if there was an iPad or Android Honeycomb version of this to match the actual size of the circuit in the real car.

If you just want the DeLorean’s speedometer, look for DMC Speedometer in Apple’s App Store.

Flux Capacitor

$0.99

Available at: Apple App Store

Another Back to the Future-themed app optimized for both the iPhone and iPad that focuses largely on the flux capacitor and time circuit. The capacitor’s layout even changes based on each of the three movies, so you’ll notice subtle differences in the gauges and design.

For example, Part 1 will have the plutonium gauge, Part 2 will have the Mr. Fusion one and Part 3 will show the Firebox Temp gauge. Unlike the other apps, Flux Capacitor doesn’t use GPS to determine speed. You have to hold your finger down on the speedometer button yourself to initiate the time travel sequence.

Tilt the device to landscape and you get a great full-screen time circuit. The lightning icon at the bottom lets you drop a pin on Google Maps, so when you drive by that point, the app will initiate a lightning sequence that pretends to send you through time. That way, you don’t have to actually drive 88 mph to get the same effect. Oh, and you can play music in the background when using this.

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