The Daily App: SmartFuel -- Find Cheap Gas
The price of gas has become a pressing concern for most Americans, but SmartFuel helps users find the cheapest -- and most up-to-date -- prices around.
Soaring gasoline prices and a lack of public transportation in most U.S. cities have made drivers more cost-conscious than ever when it comes to the price of filling up at the pump. But when and where to fill up in the quest for the lowest price possible has become a kind of gambling of its own, and burning precious gallons driving around looking for cheap gas is counter-productive and wasteful. A slate of apps have come to the rescue in the hunt for gas that won't burn up wallets, but SmartFuel promises the most accurate prices in its field.
What's the App?
Like many other gas price-comparison apps such as the widely touted GasBuddy, SmartFuel helps users find the cheapest prices at gas stations in their vicinity. However, the app distinguishes itself from its rivals by promising up-to-the-minute accurate prices, relying on the national gas price database, the Oil Price Information Service, for its information, instead of user-based crowdsourced information that other gas apps use. OPIS gives the app maker information on gas prices at more than 125,000 stations in the U.S., as well as up to 1.5 million updates on prices each day.
The app, developed by Iridium and available for $3 for Apple's iOS platform only, renders its information in a fairly slick-looking interface, which allows users to toggle between list, map and hybrid views. Beyond prices, it previews distance of the station from current location as well as the last time gas prices were updated.
The easy-to-use app features more functions, such as the ability to save favorite stations, often-used locations and destinations; share information on social networks; and record purchases at stations to keep track of personal savings, usage and spending. Users can also rate stations on their cleanliness and safety, adding even more layers of information in the widening quest for cheaper car fuel. It lacks a few useful utilities, like trip-cost calculators to judge how far to drive to an alternate station to maximize savings, other apps, like the free Gas Mileage Calculator app, that specialize in that task, and can be downloaded to complement SmartFuel.
You'll Want It If...
You're tired of feeling at the mercy of high gas prices. Car-dependent users may not be able to influence the price of fuel itself, but by using cost-comparison apps like SmartFuel, they can at least exert some control in the process and make the wisest choice when it comes to which station to fill up at.
SmartFuel also offers more certainty than apps like GasBuddy, which rely on users to report prices. While GasBuddy has a wide user base, it's not immune to errors and slow reporting, but SmartFuel's promise of up-to-the-minute accurate information could keep some users from feeling burned.
It's Not My Thing -- What Else Ya Got?
GasBuddy is still one of the most popular gas price-comparison apps for a reason -- it's free, and it's available on a wider number of platforms. With a large user base, the GasBuddy community is enthusiastic, but even the wide reach isn't enough to prevent the occasional drive out to a station -- only to be confronted with a different price than touted on the app or its accompanying websites.
My own casual usage revealed GasBuddy is as accurate as SmartFuel, but it is nice to know SmartFuel can be counted on as reliable. Is the peace of mind that SmartFuel implicitly promises worth $3? It depends on personal temperament, really, and how much you drive. For city drivers who travel small distances everyday, GasBuddy may do the trick, but long-range commuters and road trippers could find SmartFuel's vetted information a blessing on the long, winding, fuel-burning road. ♦
Categories: The Daily App | Utilities