Essential countdown app London Bus Checker gets better

The majority of the time I write about apps it's just for the pleasure of playing with them and be able to advise others. Only in a few cases I keep using the app and it becomes a basic part of the way I work and my daily routine. Then there's the duty of a blogger of updating those old entries, just like I did with Instacast a couple of days ago.

Commuting in London is a forced activity that many have to cope with but for me, it's the perfect opportunity to put apps to my advantage. Bus Checker has become an excellent ally for my bus journeys, giving the information of the live departure boards the way I need. In my original review I commented about the interface with a mock bus stop sign, the pseudo departure boards with the dot matrix display and the surprisingly well done customisation of the map. 

"I found very convenient that [the map] shows the letter of the bus stop, specially in those very close to each other. It can get slightly confusing to zoom in and tap on the right one, as you'll normally have another bus on the other side of the road doing the route on the other direction."

After some months of polishing, I'm really happy to see the new version 2.0.5 addressing some of my initial criticism. In the build I previously tested, I found quite confusing to have a blinking dot suggesting the app is continuously updating. For me it looks like the blinking dot in the corner of the display of the Brita jar — pretty much it only counts seconds.

After some clarification from the developer about the meaning of it, the new version has implemented an actual countdown text that explains what's really going on. The dot is still there but at least you know it might have something to do with the "Refresh in 25s" text below.

Another massive improvement is the ability to rename the stops. I don't particularly care, but once you start building a collection of favourite stops, the list will become messy. Now for sanity's sake, you can rename those entries to more user-friendly 'outside work', 'by the corner shop', 'Nick's place', 'Shakespeare's Head',... You get the idea.

The update also comes with some cosmetic improvements to keep the look current and polish some interface elements. When you launch the app for the first time in a while you'll get a message indicating the map is loading the stations instead of seeing a map apparently frozen.

There's also a new app icon, which I don't find particularly exciting but it looks better designed, conveys the idea and iterates on the original.

If you haven't tried Bus Checker yet, I recommend you have a look at the Journey Planner series and choose your favourite travel companion.