I live in the UK and, right now, it’s pretty dark. I leave for work, it’s dark. I drive home… dark.
Those daylight hours are pretty short at this time of year and, as I learned today to my cost, it’s probably not wise to remind those solar-panel owners of this fact. They tend to get all shouty and bleat on about how they’re saving the planet or something.
So anyhow, I’ve decided to give some head-up display apps a try. Put simply, they’ll display a pretty bright image on your phone which, when bounced off your windscreen, shows your speed or direction. It’s all pretty nifty and I’ve given a number of apps a try.
Firstly I gave GPS Speed HUD a try but ended up installing it pretty quickly. It’s designed to let you know the speed limit of roads and displays your current speed. Trouble is, it didn’t keep the screen on and there were no settings within the app to tweak this. Short of fiddling with your phone settings each time you want to use it, I couldn’t see a point in using it.
Next, an app called Navier HUD. This will let you add a lot more than just speed and there’s a custom layout option so that you can display content in your own unique way. As with all of these apps, they work by reversing the images on the screen and, when your phone is under the windscreen, they’ll bounce and reflect the image back into your eyes.
Here’s a video showing it in action. It wasn’t filmed by myself, I hasten to add. Filming stuff whilst driving really isn’t safe.
Now, a few points I should make about all these HUD apps before I go any further.
1 – The bigger the screen the better.
2 – The closer your phone is to the bottom of your windscreen the better.
3 – You will need the thing on charge pretty much all the time (as the screen is constantly on, as is your GPS).
4 – If you intend using your phone and accepting a call while you’re driving, even on Bluetooth (which you should do of course), it can be tricky to see who’s calling and even trickier to make a call.
5 – If you do use a second device (such as an old / cheap WiFi-only tablet), you will need to remove it from your car when you reach your destination or someone will pinch the thing.
6 – You’re going to need an anti-slip pad like this or your phone / tablet will soon be sliding around yoru dashboard.
7 – In the day it can be hard to see the reflected image, especially if there’s a lot of data on the screen. In direct sunlight you can forget it, but some apps do have the option to tweak the brightness over and above the system setting (which is usually “auto”)
I ended up using Car HUD, which was really simple. It just displays your speed in a massive font and there’s a variety of colours to choose from. You just tap the screen to “reverse” it and off you go. No ads either, which was great. I was also pretty impressed with GPS Hud, which added a bit more information and told you whether you were driving economically.
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tried a head-up display like this and whether it’s more than just a quick gimmick. Have you rigged up your car more permanently or would you be interested in doing so ? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you. I’d also like to know what your favourite HUD app is if you’re using one.