Aha Mobile Launches New Version Of Traffic And Road Entertainment iPhone App

Mobile apps that help drivers determine traffic patterns aren’t necessarily new but apps that combine crowdsourcing, voice-based traffic reports and entertainment are definitely worth a second look. Aha Mobile is launching a new version of its iPhone app, which takes a voiced-based, non-map-centric approach to real time traffic reports. In August Aha officially launched its free app in a few select cities but today is launching national traffic coverage and is adding a few entertainment and social media features to the app as well.

Aha’s app was designed with driver safety in mind and is fairly simple. You can record and share your own personal traffic reports to help those around you, or listen to a customized traffic channels and reports (Imported from INRIX and Clear Channel) on the roads you travel. The app itself only has four buttons and is safe to use at speeds of 65 miles per hour or less. You can preset the roads into your app before you get on the road, so you can automatically access them without taking your eyes off the road to input the information.

Aha also alerts you to nearby food and drinks; pulling in information from Yelp. But if you want to find a coffee place while you are on the road, Aha will simple pull in the four, top-rated coffee shops nearest to your locations, instead of making you scroll through listings. Aha also pulls in bathroom locations from SitOrSquat and info about the locations of red light or speed cameras from Photoenforced.com.

Crowdsourcing traffic information is another compelling part of the app. With the Aha App, drivers simply tap their iPhone, speak for up to 15 seconds and, without taking their eyes off the road, safely broadcast voice messages, known as Aha Shouts, to drivers nearby. For example, if you witnessed an accident on the 101 highway, you could tape a shout and Aha would store this Shout so that another users could access this information when he or she is driving along the same route.

In fact, the Aha App allows and encourages drivers to Shout about all types of things – from reporting on traffic bottlenecks and speed traps to venting about a crazy driver in the next lane. Or, if drivers just want to listen in and benefit from the information others are sharing, they can do that too.

Drivers can now post Aha Shouts automatically to Twitter and Facebook for others to hear. With Aha’s new Facebook and Twitter integration, drivers can customize which types of Shouts go to each of their social networks. Posts are automatically populated with the type of Shout, the user’s current location and speed (for Traffic Shouts), any text added by the user during set-up, and most importantly a link to play the Shout. One humorous feature of Aha’s app is the “Caraoke” room that lets Aha users record 15 seconds of singing along to any song in the car. Fellow Aha users can see other users’ recordings and you can also publish your “Caraoke” to Twitter or Facebook.

To date, Aha has raised $3 million in Series A funding from Venrock. The startup plans to offer mobile apps for the Android and Blackberry in the Spring of 2010.