Aug, 06 2012

The economy is in bad shape.  I don’t need to tell anyone here that saving even a few cents is something that should be in your everyday thought prices when purchasing goods. I think we can agree the thing we’re most conscious about saving money on is fuel.

Long gone are the days where a $20 bill could get you through the week, and while prices have been higher than they are now they’re still ridiculously high. That’s why apps like GasBuddy are a best friend for many who own smartphones. GasBuddy is a crowd-sourced app that delivers updates on gas prices in your area.

The app lets users report prices for all fuel types, and it’ll tell you how long ago that price was spotted. That last bit is important because it seems like gas prices are getting changed more than once a day these days. The interface for viewing and reporting prices is straightforward and easy to view in a glance.

It all starts with a search — you can either specify the city or zip code or let the app fine tune your location through the use of GPS. The latter option is the most desirable as it will sort prices based on location by default. This is good if you don’t have time to drive to the station with the lowest price and you just need to find the cheapest in that particular area.

If you’re not concerned with distance you can sort by price to get the absolute best price in that range. Map View is another option provided and gives you a quick look at the stations in your area on a Google Maps grid. Prices are displayed below the logo of the station for easy identification (I’d much rather go to Speedway and get a frozen drink while my gas is pumping instead of the run down Citgo that I wouldn’t even by chewing gum from).

Jumping to the station’s page will give you more info on its gas prices. Regular, mid, premium, or diesel fuel prices are all provided just in case you happen to need something other than the norm. You can update either one or all of the fuel types by tapping buttons to the right of each price. It’s a quick and painless process that shouldn’t take you more than the amount of time it takes to pay for the gas.

On the individual station view is a list of features that gas station has. For instance, if you need to go to a gas station with an ATM or one that also doubles as a convenience store you can get that info at a glance.

Finally, there’s a feature which lets you upload images so that people can see the gas station they’re headed to. I guess it’s worth checking it out ahead of time to see if it’s too congested, in a bad neighborhood, or anything of the sort.

There are some notable annoyances I need to point out. For starters, the app has no widget, and it just doesn’t look that great overall. It was made in the Android 2.x area so I wasn’t expecting some decked out Ice Cream Sandwich/Jelly Bean style, but it just isn’t too appealing to me. Perhaps I’m picky (it probably isn’t as bad as I make it out to be) since I’ve been spoiled with an influx of Android 4.x style apps lately, but it was worth pointing out anyway.

Another issue is the app’s tendency to take you back to the search results from a station view if you let the device power off. It’s fine if you were looking at a station that was at the top of the list but if you have to scroll to get to the station you were looking for it will easily turn you off. Again, this is something I can deal with as I would just need to keep the display active for as long as I need the app open, and that’s no big feat at all.

But this app isn’t supposed to be some mind-blowing experience made by AAA developers. It feeds on people’s desire to help save money not only for themselves, but for others, too.

It does it in a way that makes sense, and it doesn’t throw you into a loop of nonsense before getting the information that you need. That, my friends, is all I could ask for. Find the app for free in the Google Play Store.