Software Review: GasBuddy for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

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GasBuddy for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad
GasBuddy for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

It’s a necessity for many of us that we can’t avoid. We can try to limit our spending on it but we rely on it every day. I’m talking about gasoline for the many of us who drive to and from work or school each day. Sure, some of us take public transit but many of us rely on the convenience of driving and that means, we are at the liberty of the gas stations around town charging whatever prices they want. Although we can’t avoid not buying gas for our car, we can however, choose which stations to fill up at. This is where this very useful app called GasBuddy comes in.

GasBuddy has been around for many years, offering millions of people access to the latest prices of local gas stations all over US and Canada. Mind you, the prices are submitted by the GasBuddy community of users but since many of them use the site, the accuracy of the prices are fairly high. And now, GasBuddy has offered a mobile app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad which offers a similar experience to the main website, allowing users to view local gas station prices, submit prices and access their GasBuddy member information, all within the app. With it, you can now be able to find the closest gas station that offers the lowest or at least lower price for a gallon (litre) of gas without driving all around town. And, this app is FREE (and no ads yet).

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For those who want to skip over all the detailed review and just want a summary, you can jump to the review summary

More details of GasBuddy for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad (taken from Apple iTunes store)

Find the cheapest gas on the go – for free! In one click, locate gas stations near you and see their current gas prices. Never overpay for gas again.

For every gas price reported, you’ll earn points toward prize give-away entries. We give away a $250 gas gift card every week.

GasBuddy is a community of users working together to update gas prices – help everyone save on gas!

Gas prices for USA and Canada only.

Apple Inc. is not a sponsor of the prize give-away.

What’s New in Version 1.04

- Fixed crashing on iOS 3 devices.

Slideshow of GasBuddy for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

Video of GasBuddy for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad


Video review of GasBuddy for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

I Liked:
  • simple, easy to use
  • Displays by price or distance
  • Displays by map
  • Weekly draw ticket purchase supported
  • Allows inputting of gas prices
  • View GasBuddy membership info
  • Preferential display of info
  • Search by city, state or zip
  • FREE

I Didn’t Like:

  • Requires internet connection
  • App offers only basic features
  • No gas station feature search support
  • Relies on member’s price submission
  • No landscape support

Here are my observations:

I Liked:

Simple, easy to use

The program is fairly easy to figure out how to use and navigate. There is an “i” information screen that offers a bit of information about the app so that’s a plus in my books. To display results on different criteria (Distance, Price) simply tap on the respective button and the results will be refreshed. To view more information on a gas price, simply tap on the station and a more detailed screen will be displayed. Very easy to use and navigate.

Displays list of stations by price or distance

As mentioned in the previous point, the app supports the listing of gas stations by price or distance with the lowest at the top of the list. Simply tap on either the Price or Distance button at the bottom of the screen and the screen will refresh to reflect the new display order.

Displays a map of nearby stations with prices

This is one of my favorite features. Aside from viewing the results of gas prices sorted by price, if I tap on the Map button at the top, a map with the nearest gas stations and their prices will be rendered and displayed. This offers a much more visual representation of the data as I can see where the stations are in reference to where I am.

Supports inputting of gas prices for stations

Another feature that is obviously expected to be implemented in the app is the capability of inputting gas prices directly from within the app. Rather than wait until I’m either at a computer at work or home, I can input the information right in the app (but obviously NOT while I’m driving).

View basic GasBuddy membership info

Being a GasBuddy member for a few years, I can log into the app to view my basic membership information such as the number of days I’ve been logged into the site, the date I registered for GasBuddy, my points balance, etc.

Supports preferences of information displayed

Being from Canada, I have chosen to have the app display Regular gasoline as opposed to Mid-grade, Premium or Diesel, distance unit in kilometres instead of miles, and Price as opposed to Distance away. The app allows the user to choose from amongst the choices to customize how the information is displayed.

Search by city, state or zip

The app allows the search to be conducted by either the input of a city name, the State name or the zip code. Inputting any of the three information will allow the app to display the results of the search based on that information.

Supports weekly draw ticket purchases

For those who are interested in the weekly draws, the app supports the weekly draw ticket purchases. Simply input the number of tickets you wish to buy and tap on the Submit button and you’ll be entered in the weekly draw for $250 in gas money.

FREE

Although it shouldn’t be too surprising that this app is free since the main website is free (although supported by ads), the app (so far, knock on wood) does not have any annoying iAds embedded in it (yet). GasBuddy, don’t add the ads in there as it will drive a lot of us away (and me angry).

I Didn’t Like:

Requires internet connection (no offline support)

Obviously, being an iPod Touch owner, this is a big issue for me as I rely on wi-fi for internet access. When I’m driving around in my car, unless I have the Novatel Mi-Fi or something similar offering internet access, I won’t be able to use it. The app won’t even provide the last accessed map or information from cache. This is frustrating.

I would like to request that the app offer offline support for those of us who own an iPod Touch to be able to at least access previously accessed or viewed information but of course, indicate that it’s on offline mode as of a certain date and time. I don’t think it’s a big request as I think that GasBuddy wouldn’t want those of us who own iPod Touch or even those who own an iPhone who may not have it on an unlimited data plan to be able to use it.

Not all features of GasBuddy available in app

Not surprising that the GasBuddy app for the iPhone does not support all the features of the main website. This includes many of the points accumulation or reward that the main website offers. Such include the weekly poll question, pump price chart, gas average prices and its trend, gas price heat map, forums, and others. As mentioned previously, the app does support the weekly ticket draw submission, input of gas prices and maps of gas station prices.

No gas station services search support

I can understand that the app is mainly focused on gas prices than other things but I would however, like to be able to easily find out the nearest station that offers a car wash for example rather than simply tapping on each station to see what it offers. Perhaps adding that in the search field or an additional button filter at the bottom could be very helpful.

Relies heavily on accuracy of member’s price submission

Although the website and the app is fairly accurate in terms of prices, you must keep in mind that the prices and its accuracy are dependent upon the information provided by its members. I have noticed that some members simply input prices or post in forums just to get the points but the majority of members are fairly accurate in inputting the price. Plus, the latest entry of a price for a specific gas station will override any previously entered price. This in some ways keeps the prices as up to date as possible and any inaccurate price will be overwritten by a more accurate one. If the website suddenly loses the support and reporting of the majority of its members, the prices and accuracy of the site and app will obviously be adversely affected. But much like popular sites like Twitter and Facebook, the chance of that happen is very slim.

No landscape support

Again, although the app is suited to be rendered in portrait mode, I think that some people may wish to have the app support landscape mode as well, especially when viewing the map. I’m simply just stating this point for the sake of pointing it out.

Review Summary

Paying too much for gas is no longer an issue with the GasBuddy for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. The app offers a list or map of nearby local gas stations with its latest price. Plan your way through the daily commute to gas up at the cheapest station and save some money. You can also find out which stations offer certain services such as car wash, ATM machines, etc but you’ll need to click on each station as there is currently no services search option. The app works fine as a quick way to find the cheapest gas but you’ll need to have internet access (wifi or data).

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