TNW PickOfTheDay TNW Pick of the Day: Fuel Monitor shows drivers exactly how much their trips costing in real timeThere really is an app for everything. Some are great and some, well, not so great. But even the great ones can find gaining traction a difficult endeavor, simply because there is so much competition and so many other apps vying for our attention.

But the one thing all successful apps have in common is this – they solve a problem. In other words, the ability to design and code is all very well and good, but if the end product doesn’t actually do anything to improve someone’s life, then it will ultimately fail.

With that in mind, we’ve just gotten wind of a really neat app aimed at drivers, which displays the cost of a car journey in real-time. And we think it will prove particularly useful to peoples’ lives: Fuel Monitor for iOS.

How it works

When you first launch the app, you’ll be asked to input the make, model and year of your car. You’ll also include your preferred currency and units of measurement (kilometers, miles, gallons, liters etc).

You will, of course, need to include the fuel price. As this is a variable, you’re best updating it each time you fill up your tank – this is just a case of hitting the ‘Fuel Price’ tab next to ‘Fuel Monitor’. That way, you’ll get a more accurate cost of each journey, in relation to how much you actually spend at the service station.

With all the relevant metrics up-to-date, all you have to do is hit the giant ‘Start’ button in the ‘Monitor’ section when you get in your car. And then ‘Stop’, whenever your journey has come to an end.

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Now, one of the key selling points of Fuel Monitor is that it uses GPS to map your journey. This is key, as it saves you having to manually enter the distance or route, something that doesn’t take into account diversions or other variables that can affect the actual distance traversed.

In addition, all your journeys are stored for posterity, letting you see exactly what your gas-guzzler is costing you.

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The further you travel, the higher the meter goes…without you having to do anything. It’s kind of like the fare meter you’d find in a taxi. Except Fuel Monitor shows the journey duration, speed, how much fuel you’ve used AND the average fuel consumption.

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Sure, but why Fuel Monitor?

It’s worth noting here that there’s no shortage of similar apps out there, such as Gas Manager or Fuel Cost, but Fuel Monitor stands out on a number of fronts.

First up, Fuel Monitor has been really well put together, it’s beautifully designed and everything works at the first time of asking. Importantly, it’s very user-friendly, and it automates as much of the process as possible. As noted already, however, look-and-feel can only take an app so far…it has to be useful, something which this app most certainly is.

The idea behind Fuel Monitor seems to be that you’ll fix your iPhone to your windscreen so you can see how much your journey is costing you in real-time. But will this be something people really want to know? I think they will.

While you obviously know how much you’ve spent filling your tank, you probably rarely stop to break it down by each journey. By letting you see a pretty accurate cost of each trip you take – whether it’s a lazy one-mile cruise to the local supermarket, or a 400-mile road-trip, you will be able to assess your travel expenditure a lot more easily. Would you catch the train if you knew it cost $1.50 less than the car for the same journey?

Indeed, it would be even better if the app integrated public transport data, which would show how long the equivalent journey would take by train, underground or bus. Or, based on current traffic conditions, that it would be just as quick to walk it. There are countless cool features this app could include, to steer (pardon the pun) people away from their cars and onto alternative cheaper, greener and faster forms of transport.

Environmental and efficiency issues aside, Fuel Monitor could also be used to show your boss how much you spent driving to that conference, or divide the cost of a trip between friends.

Fuel Monitor will need an Android incarnation, and personally I’d like to see a freemium model adopted – at the moment it costs $1.99 to download. It could offer a basic, stripped-down version for free, with additional features available through a Pro version. An obvious route (there’s those puns again), sure, but one that would encourage people to download the app in the first instance.

Meanwhile, check out the official Fuel Monitor promo video below.

Fuel Monitor | iOS

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