The iPad As A GPS Speedometer with Speed

Developed by High Caffeine Content, Speed is one of those apps that wouldn’t have been possible – or at least, nearly as enjoyable – ten years ago. Built for simplicity, elegance, and extreme practicality, Speed is a GPS speedometer that uses the iPad’s location data to tell you how fast you’re traveling. It works with iPads that have GPS available, and it has been designed to take full advantage of the Retina display. With a combination of Google Maps and beautifully represented compass, speedometer, and tripmeter laid out against a lusty black leather texture, Speed won’t replace all the functions of your car’s dashboard, but it also offers a glimpse into the future of car interfaces.

I have always believed that, in the future, car manufacturers and designers would opt for more driver-friendly touch interfaces and displays. Whilst not fully there yet, Speed is a great example of what the basics of this concept may look like a few years from now. A large display, a good-looking interface and menus, touch controls, built-in GPS and data polled directly from Google Maps. More importantly, all packaged into a consumer product that also happens to run an app that looks like a minimal car dashboard. Several car makers have already experimented with modular setups to allow for iOS devices to become a central part of the automobile experience; Speed shows that, with modern technologies, even third-party developers can produce something functional and pleasant.

I actually gave Speed a try in my Polo, driving around Viterbo and up to San Martino al Cimino. Once I switched from mph to kmh (just touch the speedometer), the app started updating my location on the map as I was driving, and it started tracking my speed and trip length. The app is surprisingly fast at detecting changes in speed: I have noticed it takes less than 2 seconds to detect sudden braking or stop. The developers say Speed offers a “a near-accurate representation”, and I can attest that’s absolutely the case here. Even better, because of this slight delay, if you’re keeping a constant speed it’ll seem as if the app really knows how fast you’re driving. The technology and implementation are quite impressive.

Some may deem Speed as a nice demo, but useless. While that’s certainly the case if you’re only looking for a full-time replacement for your car’s dashboard – and honestly, how can you expect an iPad to be 100% ready for that yet? – I think the app is worth checking out for its elegance and solid feature set alone. There are even some settings to adjust to magnetic north, use analog/digital speedometers, and use a speed limiter. On a more practical level, these features and settings make for, say, a pretty sweet solution to monitor trip lengths or check just how fast the local bus driver is traveling. It’d be nice to see the app gaining richer data representations (average speed, mileage history, speed patterns) in a future update.

The opportunity for Post-PC devices to improve existing technologies and appliances is huge. Speed is one of the many examples, and a very well-built one. Get the app here, and check out a video below.

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