5 Green Mobile Apps

Smartphones and green technology: BFF?
Smartphones and green technology: BFF?
© iStockphoto/adisa

The green craze has been around for a few years and shows no signs of slowing down. Governments around the world are supporting environmentally friendly initiatives. As a result, many companies, organizations and individuals are hopping on the green bandwagon. In the best cases, their efforts make it easier for people to live, work and play without impacting the environment in a negative way.

Meanwhile, our love for mobile devices continues to grow, too. The Apple iPhone helped usher in the era of the consumer smartphone in the United States. Before the iPhone, most smartphone owners were either early adopters or corporate executives. But the stylish iPhone convinced many average consumers to take the plunge and buy a mobile device for the first time.

Before long, we saw other powerful mobile devices make a splash in the consumer market. Phones like the Nokia N95 or the HTC G1 introduced the general public to the wonders of mobile computing.

So it should come as no surprise that mobile device application developers have found a way to marry the public's love of smartphones with the increasingly popular green lifestyle movement. We're going to look at five applications, listed in no particular order, designed to make it easy to be green on the go.

The greenMeter application acts like a virtual wind tunnel.
The greenMeter application acts like a virtual wind tunnel.
© iStockphoto/ktsimage

The first application we're looking at is greenMeter for the Apple iPhone. This application helps reduce your vehicle's impact on the environment. The application relies on the iPhone's accelerometer to detect and measure forward acceleration. According to Hunter Research and Technology, greenMeter provides data about your car's fuel economy and engine power.

To get the most out of the application, users must enter several data points including the typical cost of fuel for their area, ambient weather conditions (to help calculate drag), vehicle weight and other information. Users might need to consult their vehicle's manual to get all the answers they need. The application uses this information to analyze the vehicle's performance and calculate its environmental impact.

As you accelerate in your vehicle, the application will let you know if your driving habits are environmentally friendly. If you see red, it means you're accelerating too quickly. Because the application relies solely on the accelerometer and not the GPS receiver, the application works for both the Apple iPhone and the iPod Touch. Users need to run iPhone OS 2.0 or later. The application costs $5.99 and can be found in the iPhone application store.

With BreadCrumbz, you can share your favorite pathways with others.
With BreadCrumbz, you can share your favorite pathways with others.
© iStockphoto/AVTG

Want to explore a city, find new trails in the woods or just find your way to a local park? You may want to give the Android application called BreadCrumbz a try. The basic idea behind BreadCrumbz is simple: Users can create maps to locations using the GPS receiver and camera in their Android devices. It's a combination of mapmaking and dynamic photo geotagging. The application even makes it easy for users to share their maps with other people.

If you download the BreadCrumbz application, you'll be able to browse maps and follow them to interesting locations. Because the maps can incorporate photos, it's much easier to spot landmarks and avoid getting lost. You can use the maps to find the most direct routes to locations, or log pathways that are pedestrian-friendly. You can even use it while exploring an old trail in the woods to help others take the same journey.

By taking the guesswork out of navigation, BreadCrumbz can help you save time, and maybe even fuel, while you make your way to your destination. Best of all, the application is free!

A Real Tree
Buy the application A Real Tree and you'll help fight global warming one tree at a time.
Buy the application A Real Tree and you'll help fight global warming one tree at a time.
© iStockphoto/hidesy

One enormous environmental issue is deforestation. We're losing thousands of miles of forests each year. The Apple iPhone application called A Real Tree helps users fight back. The developers of A Real Tree have partnered with organizations like Sustainable Harvest International and Trees For the Future. These organizations plant trees in several nations, including Nicaragua, Haiti, India and Honduras. Every time someone purchases A Real Tree, one of these organizations will literally plant a tree.

The application consists of a simple image of a cartoon tree as it springs to life before your eyes. By experimenting with different gestures and motions, you can make a bird fly or cause flowers to drift in the breeze. According to the developers, more functionality will come to the app in the future.

The application is only 99 cents and can be found in the iPhone apps store. So, for less than a dollar, you can plant a tree and help fight global warming.

Ecorio helps you track your carbon footprint and gives you suggestions on how you can reduce it.
Ecorio helps you track your carbon footprint and gives you suggestions on how you can reduce it.
© iStockphoto/sweetym

When Google unveiled the HTC G1, the company took the opportunity to show off a few innovative applications created by independent developers. One of those was Ecorio. Ecorio helps you track the carbon footprint you create through your everyday travels. As you move around, Ecorio keeps track of where you are. You can even use it to plan trips and it will help you select the most environmentally-friendly routes.

Ecorio consults Google Transit to determine the best method to get to your destination with the smallest impact on the environment. As you move around, Ecorio calculates your carbon footprint and even offers suggestions on how to reduce it in the future. One feature permits you to compare your results to the average American carbon footprint. And Ecorio allows you to purchase carbon offsets from your phone to help soothe your conscience and support green initiatives.

Finally, Ecorio has a feature called "Inspire" that connects you to the Ecorio community. You can share your experiences and help others find ways to travel in an environmentally-friendly way. You can also use it to arrange car pool groups with other commuters.

The Ecorio application launched with the HTC G1 and is available for free in the Google app marketplace.

GreenDrive helps take the guesswork out of navigation.
GreenDrive helps take the guesswork out of navigation.
© iStockphoto/cenglanddesigns

At the Mobile World Congress gathering in February 2009, Forum Nokia announced the winners of its Calling All Innovators competition. The contest challenged Symbian mobile application developers to create useful apps in one of several categories, including ECO-Challenge. The winner of the $25,000 grand prize in that category was GreenDrive, an application that works with Nokia smartphones or GPS receivers.

Road-Guard mobile app developers created GreenDrive to help motorists find the most efficient way to travel from one location to another. The application analyzes road conditions and generates the shortest route you can take to get to your destination in the quickest time allowed by law.

To use GreenDrive, you first have to enter your car's make, model and engine size into the application. GreenDrive uses this information to generate your optimal environmental speed. Staying within the optimal speed will help reduce your vehicle's impact on the environment. The application also lists several tips to help you drive in an ecologically responsible way.

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  • A Real Tree. (April 8, 2009) http://www.arealtree.com/forest/info
  • BreadCrumbz. (April 9, 2009) http://www.bcrumbz.com/
  • Ecorio. (April 8, 2009) http://www.ecorio.org/index.htm
  • Hunter Research and Technology, LLC. "greenMeter." (April 8, 2009) http://hunter.pairsite.com/greenmeter/
  • James. "Calling all Innovators -- the winners!" Nokia Conversations. Feb. 18, 2009. (April 8, 2009) http://conversations.nokia.com/2009/02/18/calling-all-innovators-the-winners/