In an earlier post I shared some initial observations about iOS 6, which I installed on my current iPhone to play with a bit prior to my iPhone 5 arriving on Friday. I wanted to delve a little deeper into one topic of particular interest to me: public transit directions in the built-in Maps app.
In short, you’ve got to pull up a separate third-party app, which stinks… but there are some options that make it not terrible.
Let me start by saying that from the early-afternoon hour in which I first tested this to the end of the evening of Day One, there was a vast difference in the third party apps available. I’m guessing that as the days and weeks go by, we’ll see quite a few apps available and integrated one-click from the built-in Maps app. But for now, let’s review a few that I tried out on the very first afternoon.
Of the options that were included initially, I checked out four right away:
- My favorite is Embark NYC, both because it’s free and because it offered the “Arrive” time option (so you could work backwards from when you needed to be somewhere) which iTrans NYC did not seem to include. It will also tell you how much total walking is required, which can help you weigh the pros and cons of different options as well. Plus, the “start” time is when you need to start walking from your current location, not the time the train leaves, which is great.
- iTransNYC costs a few bucks and is pretty good too. It specifically includes updates based on service delays and such, and shows multiple departs/arrives times on a single screen, which is nifty. The lack of an “Arrive” option really kills it for me.
- “Transit” with the gray bus symbol was free and very basic, though it did have a “Reminder” option to yell at you when it’s time to leave for the train. Otherwise, nothing worth mentioning, and even though it’s free I still don’t see a reason to bother downloading it.
- “Transit” with the green box and the pipe-looking symbol was also free, and did include my beloved “Arrive” time, but the interface was nowhere near as user-friendly as some of the others. I spent all of five seconds looking at it before deciding not to bother, because it was that non-intuitive.
As I mentioned, even in the first few hours the number of options doubled, so I’m sure there will be many more to come. It’s not as convenient as the built-in option from previous versions of iOS, but the free-trade capitalist in me does appreciate that I now have some options whereas before I did not.
I suppose I can put up with one additional tap on the screen to get to a third-party app, and I suppose I can grumble about it not being fully integrated with other built-in apps as easily as it was before.
Still, here’s hopin’ that Apple and Google resolve their little pissing contest and decide to collaborate together again on this. Because from what I’m seeing here, I sure do miss Google Maps being built-in.