The free iPhone route planner app keeps improving
One of the perks of using the awesome journey planner app Citymapper — available in London, Paris, Berlin and New York — is reading the hilarious release notes of every new version that hits the App Store. Anticipated in the last update, version 4.0 is now available to download along with a lengthy explanation, so let's dissect what has changed in the free route planner.
The main new feature seems to be optional account support: this allows you have profile of your own to sync data across devices and the web. The developers have opted for Facebook and Google+ integration to avoid the mess that is creating a new account with an email and password. I don't happen to use any of those services actively so I'm going to be the one who skips this. Since I haven't tried it, let's quote the release notes:
You can now do things on the web and send it to your phone (woah). Neat. And not only the web, you can now sync with other devices, including tablets, and even other inferior mobile platforms that shall remain nameless.
Apart from the account support, the most obvious change is the redesign of the main view when you launch the app, which Citymapper adequately calls the home screen. To make space for the account login area, they have moved the buttons around, pulled useful information that was buried elsewhere and generally smartened up the look. Looking at the comparison shots pre-version 4.0 and now, you can see how the Citymapper branding is now restricted to the aforementioned account icon. The top of the screen will display the city name only. The mini map has been moved up a little and put the transport method icons immediately under it. London has buses, Underground, Rail and Boris bikes as defaults, with less common services on the 'dot dot dot' button.
Save your favourite stops and stations
In the process of tidying up the home screen now you are missing the offline Tube Map and the Lines Status — two of my most used features! A link to the tube map is placed straight on the preview location map, making it really obvious. The Line Status is no longer on the home screen on a first glance, having to scroll down to check the summary of status updates for the lines you have highlighted as favourite on your notifications.
The new interface direction in version 4 really encourages you to personalise Citymapper by selecting favourite bus stops, tube lines, notification alerts and usual destinations. This information will be used to populate the lower part of the home screen automatically, giving you more information with fewer taps. On the negative side, new or occasional users who haven't saved stuff on their favourites might feel a bit lost and will have to navigate their way to find current departures, bus arrivals, Underground service and the likes.
There are some refinements in appearance with lighter shades of green and a new list menu to select the transport method. Otherwise, the interface on the rest of the app screens seems to stay the same, making it easier to follow the Citymapper hints and tips collected over the last months. Hurray!
Basics to get started with Citymapper - This guide covers setting your home and work addresses, bookmarking favourite destinations and search for shop names instead of postcodes.
Pro tips for the Citymapper commuter - Includes quick navigation to the home screen, start at a different point, set arrival times, saving routes, favourite items, alerts and last Tube service.