How average insurance costs have fallen since the final three months of 2013

Driving apps – black box video recording

Welcome to the first of the Crawley Down Group‘s monthly round-ups of driving-related smartphone apps. This month, we’re looking at black box-type video apps, which are used to create a visual record of your trip, while also embedding telemetry such as speed and location. This can be used to combat incidents such as non-fault accidents where the third party files a claim that says you’re blame.

They can also be used to combat fraud and have helped in the battle to catch cheats and drive down insurance prices for honest motorists.  So beat the highway pirated with our guide to cheap, easy-to-use smartphone apps that video your every move on the road. Here are three of the best for both Android and iOS devices.

iOS black box video recording apps for iPhones and iPads

CarCam

CarCam

CarCam

What is it: Black box-type app used to create a video record of your car journey.
Platform: iOS
How much: £1.99 (in-app top-up payment)
Where do I get it:  Download CarCam from the App store

Features: Once downloaded, there are only few settings that can be adjusted. However, that’s no bad thing and makes for a clean, simple operating system – selecting your local unit of speed measurement is all that’s really required. Once that’s sorted, you’re ready to mount your phone, launch the app, hit the record button and get driving.

CarCam records high-quality video, which can be exported to your camera roll or directly to Facebook. The export process is extremely fast and provides an overlay that can include speed, date, time, location, distance and a graphic that represents real-time acceleration, braking and steering forces. However, it lacks features such as the ability to automatically save clips in the event of an accident. A useful tip is to buy an add-on fish-eye lens for your phone, which will provide a wider viewing area for the video.

Sample video export: Here’s a video we took and exported using CarCam. We’ve not included the location data overlay in this version. Video can be exported from the app to your camera roll, and directly to your Facebook account. We particularly liked the acceleration and braking graphic.

Verdict: While this app’s not as feature-packed as many on the market, its design and performance cannot be faulted. The braking and steering forces display is a great idea and fits well within the design of the data layer. If you want a simple, efficient app to record your journey, this app should be at the top of your list.

Rating:  4/5

CarCorder

CarCorder

CarCorder

What is it: Black box-type app used to create a video record of your car journey.
Platform: iOS
How much: £1.49
Where do I get it:  Download CarCorder from the App store

Features:  Unlike the CarCam app, the CarCorder system has a large number of settings to help create a bespoke ‘black box’ experience. Some of these settings can be a little daunting, but they ensure you’re totally in control of how your information is recorded and saved.

Carcorder records high-quality video, which can be exported to your camera roll. Each clip has a control screen, which includes features such as a speed log, along with the option to play or export the clip to your cameral roll – with, or without a data overly. Memory requirements can be closely controlled, too, allowing for smooth continuous recording. As with most apps of this type, videos are recorded in loops, with the oldest overwritten when allocated memory is used up. In the event of an accident, the app will save the relevant clip – along with the option of automatically calling emergency services. CarCorder also includes a navigational system. As with other apps such as this, a useful tip is to buy an add-on fish-eye lens for your phone, which will help provide a wider viewing area for the video.

Sample video export:  Here’s a video we took and exported using CarCorder. Video can be exported from the app to your camera roll and iTunes.

Verdict:  This is a feature-packed app that offers excellent value for money, however our main criticism falls on the exported video clip. Despite the gimmicky dashboard provided for each clip, the exported video is slightly disappointing. Details, such as speed, location, date and time, are all included, but they’re rendered in a hard-to-read layer at the top of the screen. Another gripe is that the speed on exported clips is shown in km/h – even though we selected mph in the settings. A great app, nonetheless.

Rating:  4/5

iSymDVR

Driving Apps

Driving Apps

What is it: Black box-type app used to create a video record of your car journey.
Platform: iOS
How much: £1.99
Where do I get it:  Download iSymDVR from the App store 

Features: Once downloaded, open settings, tap the GPS tag and change the ‘speed unit’ option to MPH. Most other settings can be left as they are. Now you’re ready to attach your phone to your windscreen – using a stable mount to reduce vibration – launch the app, press record and get driving.

The app can record video in both landscape and portrait orientation, while providing a real-time on-screen information such as date, time and speed. However, when you export the clip, you can customize the video with a choice data subtitles (speed, date, and GPS coordinates) and an updating map of your route. Clips can be sent to the camera roll, or shared with other computers using a HTTP server. Video clips are stored in loops, so continuous recording is possible without the risk of devouring your phone’s memory – the oldest clips are overwritten when the allocated memory space is used up. The app will automatically save relevant video clips if an impact or heavy braking is detected. Don’t forget to buy an add-on fish-eye lens for your phone, which will provide a wider field of vision for the video.

Sample video export: Here’s a video we took and exported using iSymDVR. While we’ve chosen to include all data overlays (we left the speed set to km/h), the app’s settings allow you to customise the info you display – you can include or exclude data and even choose where the map is situated. Video can be exported from the app to your camera roll, and then on to You Tube and Facebook etc.

Verdict: A great app that puts you in charge. It’s simple to use, provides a high-quality output with minimal set-up. However, it’s the amount of customisation provided for data overlays on exported clips that really impressed us. Being able to choose how much – or little – data you want displayed makes this an extremely useful app. Our favourite iPhone app in this category.

Rating:  4.5/5

Android-based black box video recording apps

AutoBoy Black Box

Autoboy Black Box

Autoboy Black Box

What is it: A black box-type video recorder that creates a record of your journey, which can be used as evidence in the event of an accident.
Platform:  Android
How much:   £1.68 for full version
Where do I get it:  Download AutoBoy Black Box

Features:  AutoBoy Black Box records video of your journey, along with your car’s speed and GPS coordinates. In the event of a collision, the app automatically saves the relevant video clip. It will also alert emergency services – providing this automated action isn’t overruled by the driver within a set time.

Video information:  Segments of video exported directly from Android-based phones do not include the data overlay (speed, location and time etc), which is visible from within the app on the phone. Here’s a segment of video taken form the app. We’ve filmed this from the app working within a phone – this is not an exported clip.


Verdict:  The app has a busy interface, which is a little confusing to use. Recording video was easy, but replaying clips isn’t quite so intuitive. The replay display appears to be limited to a 70/30 split screen of the video and a Google map plotting the car’s progress. Overall, the fussy interface detracts from the app’s effectiveness.

Rating:  3.5/5

AutoGuard Black Box

AutoGuard Black Box

AutoGuard Black Box

What is it:  A black box-type video recorder that creates a record of your journey, which can be used as evidence in the event of an accident.
Platform:  Android
How much:  Free – in-app ad-free upgrade available
Where do I get it:  Download AutoGuard Black Box

Features:  The AutoGuard app records a video of your journey, along with your car’s speed and GPS location. Video is recorded in segments, which recycle when a user-determined block of memory has been used – allowing continuous recording. In the event of a crash, the app saves the relevant video clip. It can also be configured to automatically dial 999.

Video information:  Segments of video exported directly from Android-based phones do not include the data overlay (speed, location and time etc) that’s visible from within the app on the phone. Here is the producer’s information video.

Verdict:  AutoGuard has a wide range of video replay options (viewable within the app) giving the choice of full-screen video with mph speed overlay, a map that plots the journey, or a split-screen including both the video and map. The final option also adds your vehicle’s speed, plus its longitude and latitude.

Rating:  4/5

Witness Driving

Witness Driving

Witness Driving

What is it:  A black box-type video recorder that creates a record of your journey, which can be used as evidence in the event of an accident.
Platform:  Android
How much:  £0.69
Where do I get it:  Download Witness Driving for Android

Features:  Witness Driving creates a video record of car journeys viewed through the windscreen. It uses a rolling loop to record segments of video, which means your phone never runs out of memory. Speed and location are displayed on the screen in an unobtrusive overlay. If a heavy impact is detected, the app will stop recording and automatically save the relevant clip. There’s also a section to record photos and witness details from the scene of an accident.

Video information:  Segments of video exported directly from Android-based phones do not include the data overlay (speed, location and time etc) that’s visible from within the app on the phone. Here is the producer’s information video.

Verdict:  While this app lacks high-tech display of some video recorders, the clean output gives a much clearer picture of action on the road. Clips are easily shared, or exported to your computer.

Rating:  4.5/5


Appy ever after…

The good news for drivers is that the insurance industry and the Government have taken action to cut car insurance fraud and apps such as these can help in the battle to beat down premiums.

New research from the AA reveals that the push to beat fraud is working, with Britain’s title as the ‘Whiplash Capital of Europe’ becoming a thing of the past. Here’s how average motor insurance premiums have fallen from the end of 2013 compared with the first three months in 2014.

How average insurance costs have fallen since the final three months of 2013

How average insurance costs have fallen since the final three months of 2013

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to make sure you don’t miss our next collection of essential driving apps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *