Car break down? Need to call for a tow truck? Let your smart phone make the call for you.
If you own a Mini Cooper, you can get a Mini-specific iPhone or Blackberry app that stores your name and your car's color and VIN. Then, if trouble arises, a menu-driven interface sends a message to Mini (actually, Allstage) roadside assistance, along with your GPS location. A few caveats: the app only works on AT&T, T-Mobile, Alltel, and Tracfone networks. And while the app is free, the service is free only if you're a Mini driver under warranty. "Maxis" can still sign up for the service, for a one-time fee of $119.95.
A more general approach comes from AAA's free Roadside App (iPhone only), which isn't car-specific but does require an annual membership to AAA. Like the Mini app, the AAA version stores your membership number, lists nearby AAA-approved garages, and has the option of dialing 911 directly.
[Via the New York Times]