Feedback on iPhone’s transit directions & maps
The Google Transit team sent out an announcement to their partners on some of the early responses to the inclusion of Google Transit in the default software for the iPhone in the 2.2 update. I’ve been excited about the potential for easy-to-use transit information on handheld wireless devices since I started doing work with Google Transit. It seems that presenting transit as a ready option, alongside driving and walking instructions, on one of the most popular mobile devices is changing the way people think about transit and inspiring some new riders. Here’s the message Google sent:
Google Transit has reached a new milestone – with the new iPhone 2.2 firmware update, the iPhone puts public transportation and walking on even footing with driving directions in Google Maps for mobile (GMM).
From now on, any time an iPhone user asks for directions in an area where Google has public transit schedules, the transit route is at their fingertips. Better yet, it defaults to the last travel mode used, so someone who always takes public transportation will get transit directions by default.
This is a huge free upgrade for all the agencies who have shared their schedule data with Google (and other developers). This, along with the other transit-supporting versions of Google Maps for mobile for BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Symbian Series 60, makes it easy for an agency to get their schedule and route information into millions of pockets and purses.
Let’s see what users have said about this release:
- “Took a bus for the first time in over a year. The new public transport option in maps on the iPhone is brilliant!” twitter.com/helloBos/status/1021828970
- “Loving new public transportation directions on iPhone, who knew I could get home this way?” twitter.com/JeremyCurry/statuses/1017167385
- “Wow–just tried the transit button. I hadn’t been very interested in that, but now that I see how easy it is, I might just be taking the bus more often images.macrumors.com/vb/images/smilies/smile.gif  It’s SO much better than those paper maps with the tiny schedules that I’m used to!” forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=6642804&postcount=481
- “My biggest problem with using public transportation in SF has been my own lack of knowledge. The iphone Google maps app now solves that.” twitter.com/PelleB/statuses/1017012015
- “I’m thinking of catching my 1st ever bus since iPhone 2.2 got released! It even tells you the bus timetable!” twitter.com/timjennion/statuses/1016926145
- “iPhone’s 2.2 update makes getting NJ transit train times a snap with Maps!! Love it!!” twitter.com/Dspad/status/1021551738
- “I knew it would eventually come, but I didn’t realize how excited I would be to hold transit directions in the palm of my hand! Much of the inconvenience of riding transit is the lack of information. Google and Apple have just broken through the first barrier of inconvenience by bringing pervasive information to transit riders (which is my only means of getting around Denver).” www.jasonlally.com/2008/11/google-transit-arrives-on-the-iphone/
Thank you for making your data available on Google Transit. It’s time for you to pat yourself on the shoulder, sit back, and enjoy a new group of users to access your service without you lifting a finger! As Google develops innovative products with your data, people will become more and more dependent on accessing your data from anywhere at any time. As a result, it’s imperative that we get timely updates from you in order to provide accurate information to users of your service.
2 thoughts on “Feedback on iPhone’s transit directions & maps”
Yes a pat on the back is in order, however the list of agencies making data fully public is still really small. Things like this would have happened sooner had that barrier been removed, and there are still good applications for riders that are unavailable simply because of agencies unwillingness to publish their schedule data. So even though this is a large step in the right direction, let us not forget that it is only a step.
You are very right Jehiah. I hope you’ve checked out my interview with the great folks at TriMet. Those kinds of examples really make a case for open data to other agencies well, I think.
The four agencies Trillium has helped join Google Transit — (three in Humboldt), and then Rio Vista Delta Breeze in the SF Bay Area — have all chosen to make their data feeds public. I think that’s great.
One other factor in making feeds public besides agency choice that is worth pointing out is that some software and service providers have license agreements that lock transit data from being freely shared (I guess because it would make it easy to switch to another vendor’s product). My clients own their own data.
I hope other vendors take this approach because it’s the best thing for public transportation. I say let’s try to grow the whole public transportation pie (as a market for us, and with it’s benefits for communities and riders) rather than jealously guard slices of it.