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Barely Legal: Trapster's New Features Make Vacations A Breeze & Help You Skirt The Fuzz

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Trapster screencap

Trapster screencap

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We've given a fair amount of coverage to the Trapster app -- and for good reason. At heart, it's a crowdsourced radar detector, which has enraged law enforcement officials and simultaneously made it a fave of drivers who chafe at the thought of going 20 in a school zone. But recent updates to Trapster have given it a kinder, gentler side, offering features that might even cause rubbernecking among the most meticulous motorists.

Of particular interest is Trapster's new "Caravan" feature, which allows folks on multi-car road trips to communicate quickly and easily with one another. So, let's say that you and a dozen friends are heading to Branson, Missouri for the annual Lawrence Welk reunion (or to Burning Man, take your pick). After one person from each car registers with Trapster, you can link accounts to create a "caravan" and pass notes throughout the group along the drive (though not while driving, please). That sounds like an awfully convenient tool, doesn't it? It also sounds an awful lot like another Caravan app created last spring by students at the University of Michigan, but you know: early bird, meet worm.

Trapster has added new "trap types", too, like construction zones, car accidents, and toll booths -- none of which are technically "traps", but to movers and shakers, it's all the same thing. The latest version of the app also includes a feature called "Patrol", which places a blue line along routes that other Trapster users have recently traveled. While that's not a sure-fire way of ensuring that a road is cop-free, it ought to make leadfooters a little more comfortable.

Despite those nifty features, there are two problems that continue to plague Trapster, according to user reviews: (a) it's a memory hog and (b) it drains the phone battery fairly quickly. We haven't suffered too much from the former -- though admittedly, we're using later-gen devices, which typically have more memory at their disposal. The battery issue is real, though, which is probably why Trapster now includes a friendly reminder to shut down the app when it's not being used.

Trapster is available on a wide array of platforms, including Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Palm, and Windows Mobile. It works on the iPad, too, but unlike certain Bullrun contestants we could name, we don't encourage you to test that one out -- at least not on the road.

[Trapster]

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