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Amazon.com has promised to make a paid app free every day in the Amazon Appstore, and today’s app is Car Locator.
Car Locator is normally priced at $3.99 in the Android Market. Meanwhile, it is normally priced at $3.99 in the Amazon Appstore. As we noted previously, prices sometimes differ between the two stores.
Car Locator is described as follows:
If you’ve ever gazed out at a sea of parked cars and realized that you have no idea where yours is, Car Locator is here to help. This GPS-based app for your Android device remembers your car’s location and leads you right back to it. It also keeps track of how long you’ve been parked, lets you know if you need to feed the parking meter, and more.
Park, Save, and Go
Setting Car Locator to remember your car’s spot is easy. When you park your car, just open the app (or use the handy widget straight from your home screen). You’ll see your current location on Google Maps, along with a cool-looking radar display that signifies your car with a red dot. Just double-tap the location of your car on the map (or simply shake your phone) and Car Locator will remember where it is.
When you want to find your car again, just open the app and follow the cues. Choose between a map screen, which shows your progress on Google Maps as you get closer to your car, or a radar screen, which puts your car’s location in a simple visual graph to help you orient as you get closer. You can also opt for a split-screen option, which shows both map and radar signals at once. It’s also easy to link to Google Maps’ step-by-step directions, as well.
Along with the visual help, Car Locator features a “sonar” function that emits a beeping sound: The closer you get to your car, the faster it beeps. This can be very useful in a crowded parking lot (or if you want to pretend that you’re piloting a submarine).
By touching the Details tab at the top of the screen, you’ll see (in big, clear numbers) the amount of time your car has been parked and how many feet away it is from you right now. There’s also a directional helper at the bottom of the screen, which uses an arrow to illustrate what direction to walk in order to get closer to your car.
The app’s timer and alarm are a nice touch. If you parked in a spot that has a time limit, just set the timer and your phone will alert you when you need to go feed the meter or find another spot.
Many other useful features round out this simple tool. If you park in the same area frequently, you can save that location for future use. You can also send your car’s location to another phone that has Car Locator installed on it–this can be very helpful when meeting friends in an unfamiliar place, for example, or if you need someone to pick your car up for you.
The home screen widget is a quick and useful way to save your location without opening the app. Just one touch to the widget will set your location and you’ll be ready to go.
Car Locator has a 4.6-star rating in the Android Market, and 3-star rating in the Amazon Appstore.
There are plenty of competitors in the Android Market, including Carrr Matey, which is free and highly rated. However, Car Location won 1st place in Verizon’s Power Your App Contest. Additionally, there is a free plug-in that saves your car’s location whenever your phone disconnects from your car’s Bluetooth (the obviously named Car Locator Bluetooth Plugin).
It doesn’t appear that the Plugin is available in the Amazon Appstore, however, and it’s unclear if you can “mix-and-match” between the two Markets.
Why the big difference between the two markets, in terms of reviews? Among the reasons are negative ratings because of comparisons with other free apps (which isn’t really a valid reason to downgrade an app, IMHO), and permissions.
Amazon.com opened up the Appstore despite a lawsuit by Apple, which has previously trademarked the term “App Store.” Microsoft has filed an appeal against that trademark, saying the term is too generic. Amazon.com has responded to the lawsuit in the same manner.