Hey guys. David Hodge here from Embark. I just wanted to let you know that we've got you covered for transit directions in many large cities. (And more being added all the time)
Look for Embark in NYC, Washington DC, Boston, London, Chicago, San Francisco. Embark will work underground and has results tailored to each city instead of the very general results you tend to get from Google Transit.
Hi David, I love your apps. Long time iBart user, but what would be nice is a single app that will cover making connections across transit systems. If I'm going to the South Bay tell me how to take Muni to BART or CalTrain and then BART /Caltrain to VA and how far to walk. THAT would be the killer feature that would making having no transit directions awesome.
I'm in Rome, and it's simply not possible to get from most points A to B with crossing transit modes and transit brands – most trips need two or three, sometimes four.
Try getting from Pz. Belli in Trastevere to Villa d'Este in Tivoli in time for the 8:30 PM light show. Then try to get back when the train isn't running. Both trips involve an area bus or train, as well as local metro, bus, and tram. The downtown map comes with four brands' routes.
In Rome even Google isn't grasping this, but same is true of NYC, getting into the city, or heading from Newark to Queens, or Stamford to JFK and LGA.
This is possibly the comment that you never want to hear when you have a nice-looking app, but I do find them a bit painful to use. Use of screen height and extra button presses are too key areas that give me grief. It could simply be something as subtle as the London Underground map defaults to too far zoomed-in. Maybe try changing that?
However, they are free, free from ads and work really well. I especially like the way they tell you the direction of the train you're going to get.
Thanks for the feedback. Generally people have been very happy with our apps, but we pay close attention if people have problems. We have a number of changes in store for London based on our user feedback. I'd really like to discuss these details with you sometime if you get a chance.
Very happy to help - I use apps like this perhaps 5 times a day so I have an interest in making them the best I can. Drop me a line.
PS, it's definitely the default zoom level. That and the Bookmarks would benefit as being Stars as they are more akin to Favorites. Took me a while to figure that. But again, I can't speak for everyone of course.
Well I've used iPhones for several generations now. I pre-ordered before any reviews because I have a pretty good idea of what the general experience will be like and I'm looking to upgrade my phone to one with a larger screen and faster hardware. The iPhone 5 ticked those boxes for me while still allowing me to use my same apps and devices in my home. I'm not really interested in switching to an entirely different ecosystem at this time as I have a lot invested in this one.
It is unfortunate that the maps application is a step backward in some regards but I've been bracing myself for this since I first heard they were working on their own map app.
I don't live in a city where I rely on transit directions so that didn't effect me a lot but I can see how it would be frustrating to people who do. However, because I mostly drive everywhere the turn-by-turn directions is a huge addition for me. So, I'm not entirely disappointed in the new map app.
Although not an Apple fan, I can relate to their purchasing behaviour through an analogy of my own:
I am a massive Pixar fan. I think almost everything they touch turns to gold and I haven't seen a Pixar movie that I dont' like (to be fair, the last new release I saw was Toy Story 3). When I saw the ad for WALL-E, I thought it sounded like a stupid idea for a movie, but I still forked out the $10 to go see it at the cinema. This decision was purely on their past record, nothing to do with my perception of WALL-E. Sure enough, I loved it.
Perhaps this is a similar way Apple fans make decisions.
Carriers already push iPhone alternatives for all sorts of reasons. It doesn't matter how good the third-party transit apps are. Not having transit routing built in is an "instant demo" for any carrier sales rep trying to push an Android or Windows Phone. And, last I heard, Apple sells far more iPhones through carriers that they sell directly...
If you use Google's transit maps at all you'd know how it's pretty much a step below the original native Maps app. The only thing going for the mobile web version is bike routes otherwise it's still a below par experience compared to Maps.
Co-Founder of Embark here (letsembark.com). We have apps for 12 systems, mostly in the US (BART, Caltrain, NYC, LIRR, MNR, NJT, DC Metro, Philly, CTA, Metra, Boston & London Tube). We also integrate with iOS 6 maps, so our apps should show up for you if they're relevant. In my subjective opinion, it's a way better experience than a google maps web view.
EDIT: Looks like my co-founder David beat me to the punch
Currently we don't have an app for muni, though it's something we're working towards. There are some nice apps for Muni that have real-time arrivals but lack routing. Transporter & Routsey are probably the two best.
Having had the beta for so long I hadn't actually expected integration with maps, I figured it'd just tell you that there were other apps available. I'll definitely be moving to embark for the time being!
Somewhat off-topic, but does anyone in SF who rides public transportation agree that Google's Map directions in terms of time predictions don't work? Like they're almost always completely wrong. I wonder if they use scheduled bus times instead of actual ones.
Anyway, I was hoping to be able to plug in something like Routesy to iOS 6 maps, and then I'd be a happy camper.
We've found that Google has historically had a very hard time in San Francisco, and many other big cities for that matter. The results often seem reasonable at first, but end up being impractical in practice. We've found that getting good routing results in cities like SF requires a lot of attention to detail in each particular city. Google has very smart people, but they can't focus everywhere at once.
Disclaimer, I work at Embark and we make transit apps. (letsembark.com)
Edit: it also doesn't help that Muni often doesn't run on schedule.
It shouldn't matter if they don't run on schedule because every bus/train has a GPS on it from which you can make predictions. iCommuteSF and Routesy (and i'm sure others) use this to give me results that are accurate the vast majority of the time.
There's no universally accepted API for the real-time data unlike the GTFS (General Transit Feed Specification) for theoretical schedules. You can approach some commonality with Nextbus API/scraping (http://www.nextbus.com/predictor/agencySelector.jsp) but not every agency offering real-time data uses it.
So iCommuteSF might very well be doable, but you can't use that everywhere like you can Google Maps with GTFS.
I didn't mean to imply you could do it everywhere. I was specifically replying to the part about "MUNI" in the parent comment. The geo data for current MUNI positions is public data. So if you are making an SFMUNI specific app, there's no excuse not to use it.
Also, I didn't realize that embark also does routing, which is more than iCommuteSF and Routesy do.
Yes, however Muni's own signs at the stops often make inaccurate predictions. As an occasional Muni rider, I've often waited for a bus or a train only to find that it's not in service. There are also frequent "ghost buses", where the minutes count down to zero but no bus shows up.
In other words, although I'm certain the transit apps could stand to improve, I don't think even Muni has accurate data.
I'm pretty sure Google Maps and a plethora of other applications on the App Store simply use the MUNI schedules (http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mroutes/schedules.htm) for the purposes of "time prediction." Since buses in SF are basically never time due to many reasons (traffic, accidents, once I was on a bus where the trainee who was driving took the wrong exit on the way to Daly City BART and the actual Muni driver on the bus had to take over the wheel) the predictions are never accurate.
The only app that has done me right is Transporter, and I'm pretty sure it scrapes Nextbus or some other service for time predictions.
I also have noticed this in SF. It becomes most frustrating when I want to travel to a location using routes I am unfamiliar with or don't ride often. This means I can't off the top of my head guess when the next bus would be coming before choosing that bus route. In that case I usually pick a live route app like Transporter to see how long of a wait till that bus comes. Unfortunately, that time spent in another application can prove costly if you are in a hurry.
Unless specifically indicated as live times, Google uses the scheduled times. I've seen live times in Google Maps in only one area, Portland, OR.
Scheduled times are coming from GTFS feeds that agencies register with Google. As far as I know, Google didn't create a unified live transit predictions/tracking API, which seems to me a rather surprising oversight.
It might be speed. I've written an app for SF using the NextBus API, and it is slow. In the time it would take to return the live times for a particular route at a particular stop, Google has already given me four possible routes (and has helpfully gotten me a glass of water, as well).
Guys, I'm from HopStop. Our app has got you covered for your public transit needs. We support lots of cities in the USA, Canada and some in Europe.
We also have some nice features other than transit directions, such as schedules and transit maps. Check us out!
Note: Maps integration coming soon for our iPhone app. Our iPad app is already working fine with Maps.
I just learned about Lumatic today (http://lumatic.com/) and it seems like a worthy replacement for transit directions in many places.
Here in Boston it seems to think that I am not near any transit, but it does happily use the transit near my house to route me on different trips. I like the landmark-based turn-by-turn navigation -- I hope that's something that becomes more useful as time goes on.
WMATA finally got their act together and opened their data to Google sometime in the last year or so. They refused to do so for the longest time because, as I recall, they didn't want to lose advertising revenue from wmata.com. Revenue which amounted to something like $50,000/year, out of a budget of hundreds of millions. Anyway, Google is pretty good at DC transit routing these days, at least in my experience.
It's not so much that. If I'm at home in Brooklyn and want to get to a place in Manhattan, there might be two ways to go. Google maps calculates what the fastest way is, including walk time and train connections, and gives me a route that shows the stops, walking directions, and connections.
Can anybody explain why Google can't simply make a version of google maps that is installable through Safari (they way Steve wanted apps to be delivered?) You need absolutely no permission from Apple, and their app already works on the web (just used it to get directions, in fact).