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Free App Friday: 5 Great Tools For Your Commute

You’re stuck with your commute. Might as well take as much misery out of the equation as you can.

If you’re like most of us, you leave the comfort of your warm, loving domicile five mornings each week. You venture out into the cold to rub bumpers with a gaggle of miserable fools just like you. For hours!

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Here’s a handful of apps that can make your commute easier–or at the very least, more enjoyable.

1. If you can’t wait to start trolling the web for news

If you think texting while driving is dangerous, try reading the news while driving. Wait: don’t, actually. Umano (Android, iOS) rounds up interesting blogs posts and articles from around the web–spanning most popular categories–and employs voice specialists to present the content in audiobook-like form. You have the web read to you, in other words. It’s a great app for the car, with a simplified interface option that lets you navigate between stories with ease. Given what goes into producing these pieces, you won’t be getting up-to-the-minute news from Umano, but the team does an impressive job of turning content around in a reasonably timely manner.

2. If you’re a leadfoot who’s sick of sitting in traffic

Waze (Android, iOS, Windows Phone) might be the most important app to have on your phone. Yes, Waze is an excellent GPS app. Yes, it has a ton of features like gas station finders, Facebook friend location, and maps updated by its community. But for the common commuter, Waze’s true power is two-fold. One: you’ll get tipped off to speed traps so you can avoid run-ins with Johnny Law. Two, and most powerful of all: the app intelligently re-routes you around traffic jams. If you’re not firing the app up right when you get in the car, you’re commuting wrong.

3. If parking gives you an ulcer

True story: I once used BestParking (Android, BlackBerryiOS) to park in Manhattan all day for $16. The app maps out the cheapest parking in over 100 cities, finding both daily and monthly rates, with photos of the various garages so you can get a better sense of whether your car’s going to be in good hands or not. The app also gives you contact information about each garage, along with payment options, hours, and whether there are parking attendants or not. BestParking claims to have the most accurate parking data around. If you report an inaccuracy, you’ll apparently be rewarded with a $5 Starbucks gift card.

4. If local radio leaves a lot to be desired

Try TuneIn Radio (Android, iOS). If you can’t find something to listen to on TuneIn, something has gone seriously wrong. There are more than 100,000 conventional radio stations to choose from, but it’s the four million or so podcasts that really take the cake. Podcasts about wedding planning? Yep. Conspiracy theory podcasts? You got it. Star Trek podcasts? Oh my, yes. If it’s not on TuneIn, it might not actually exist. If you fire up the app and feel overwhelmed, there’s a handy Trending section that shows you what everyone else finds interesting at that particular moment. Or you can connect with your friends who use TuneIn to see what they’re listening to.

5. If being stuffed like a sardine on a stuck subway isn’t your idea of a good time

It’s time to load up Moovit (Android, iOS, Windows Phone). Moovit is basically GPS for people who don’t drive, serving up step-by-step directions that combine walking and public transportation in order to get you where you want to go in the most efficient way possible. The app works for more than 400 cities around the world (60+ in the U.S.) and provides live updates and alerts based on what other riders are reporting. You’ll very likely find out about a stuck train or late bus before the official channels send out an update. And while you’re riding, you’ll be feeding data into the system and can alert others of delays.

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