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Inrix Traffic for Android review:

Inrix app points you home, won’t go all the way.

The good: Inrix Traffic is able to display mapped traffic overlays for surface roads and highways. Traffic estimates given for Home and Work trips were accurate. The app offers predictive estimates for future trips.

The bad: Adding more than Home and Work to the destinations requires a pricey $24.99 lifetime premium subscription. No turn-by-turn directions are offered and there’s no way to send a destination to an app that does.

The bottom line: Inrix Traffic for Android is a good trip-planning supplement for accurate travel time estimates, but you’ll need a primary navigation app for turn-by-turn navigation.

 

The latest update to the Inrix Traffic app for Android is a fairly large one. The app gets a visual refresh that makes use of Android’s Holo design language. An updated and clearer Places screen makes it easier for drivers to estimate travel times and share those times with others.

Inrix is, simply, a traffic app. It will let you know how much traffic you’ll encounter on your way home and to work, but it won’t actually give you directions as to how tol get there. Can such an app be useful? Let’s take a closer look at Inrix Traffic for Android and find out.

What does it do?
When you fire up the Inrix app, you’ll be taken to the Places screen. Here you’ll find estimated drive times for preset Home and Work destinations that can be set in one of the app’s settings menus. Each of the destinations has two estimates for the arrival time and driving time for two potential routes.

The Places screen is where you’ll find travel time estimates for Home and Work.

Clicking a Share icon to the left of each drive time allows the users to share the route and travel estimate with any of their contacts via e-mail or text message. Additionally, users can set a favorite e-mail or phone number for messaging to via the resulting Share menu.

At the bottom of the Places screen are icons that take the user to a Scorecard screen with interesting charts for traffic geeks, and a Community leaderboard that displays the most active Inrix community members who report traffic and incident data. There is also a Clock icon that reveals a timeline at the top of the Places screen. Swiping this timeline to a future time updates the drive and arrival times for Home and Work, with estimated future trip data based on historical and speculative traffic data.

Finally, clicking any of the estimated drive times (current or future) takes the user to the map screen, which displays an overlay of the chosen route and allows users to toggle between the two trip alternatives, but offers no turn-by-turn directions.

The Map screen features color-coded traffic overlays, incident icons, and trip data, but no turn-by-turn nav.

The Map screen shows streets and highways with color-coded traffic overlays: green roads are clear and free-flowing, yellow are congested, and red are heavily congested or stopped. I’m most impressed by Inrix’s ability to display traffic flows even on surface streets here in San Francisco, where many free traffic services only have major arteries and highways represented.

The map also features incident icons for construction, accidents, hazards, and police presence. Clicking any of these incident icons displays a pop-up that displays more information about the incident and two buttons that allow the user to confirm, clear, or share the incident via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, or text message. On the right edge of the Map screen is a red Report icon that can be clicked to bring up a pop-up menu with large buttons for reporting police, accidents, hazards, construction, or the wrong traffic color to Inrix’s system.

Users can report inaccurate traffic data or incidents from within the app.

With other icons on the edge of the Map screen, you can lock the map in a north-up orientation or with the direction of travel up. You can freely pan the map by swiping and pinching or lock the center on your current position with the Follow Me mode. Additionally, tapping a clock reveals a timeline similar to the one on the Places screen, where you can slide forward in time to update the color-coded street overlay with future traffic estimates.

Users who opt to make a $24.99 in-app purchase can unlock Inrix’s Premium features. Premium users can add an unlimited number of places to the standard Home and Work addresses, access live traffic camera feeds for visual confirmation of traffic flow, and add gas stations to the map, which can be clicked to view fuel prices.

What’s missing?
For starters, Inrix’s lack of turn-by-turn directions limits its usefulness. This is the sort of app that you’d check when planning your commute, but its usefulness is rapidly reduced once you’re on the road. I’d at least like the ability to click a button to send my destination to another app, such as Google Maps or CoPilot Live, for actual turn-by-turn directions when it’s time to hit the road.

The addition of a live-updating home-screen widget, like Waze’s, or a lock-screen widget for Android 4.2.1 devices would give users an at-a-glance trip estimate without opening the app and would help keep the app top-of-mind, making people more likely to fire up the Inrix app at the start of their trip and contribute their traffic and incident data to the system.

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