Cheap Gas! app mostly an empty tank

Aug 24, 2009
Autos

My dad recently made his car trek north from Florida to visit family and friends in the Midwest.  He’s a Depression-era baby, so he likes cheap gas. While he would love the idea of Cheap Gas!, the clunkiness of the iPhone app makes downloading it a non-starter.   Theoretically, Cheap Gas! works well. You input your zip […]

My dad recently made his car trek north from Florida to visit family and friends in the Midwest.  He’s a Depression-era baby, so he likes cheap gas. While he would love the idea of Cheap Gas!, the clunkiness of the iPhone app makes downloading it a non-starter.  

Theoretically, Cheap Gas! works well. You input your zip code and the app spits out up-to-date pricing and the addresses of nearby gas stations. Even my technophobic dad could handle that.  

Like many iPhone apps, this is simply a mobile version of the www.gasbuddy.com online application. The mobile relevance is lost immediately as the app has trouble capturing your exact location while you are on the go. This leads to a bigger problem in that most people don’t know the zip codes through which they are driving. So unless you find out those destination zip codes, you won’t be able to get Cheap Gas! info.  

City drivers and those in geographically large zip codes won’t drive too far out of their way just to save a few cents.  Another problem is that Cheap Gas! is a user-dependent app, which means the data that you receive is simply data that you and and other drivers input into Cheap Gas!  There is no online database which tracks gas prices by location, so that data needs to be entered by drivers who use the app. If users don’t input all grades of gas, you don’t get prices for all grades of gas.  If you’re driving along remote roads, there might not be enough data for gas stations along those routes. 

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Ideally, the app should allow you to choose a few Cheap Gas! stations on your way to work or wherever you drive and check them quickly when you need to fill up.  That’s not an option.  On the other hand, it’s free. So if it can save you some cash, you’re making money.

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