First in an occaisional series. I hate to be iPhone-centric, but I don’t own a Blackberry or an Android device, so I can’t review anything on those devices unless someone is willing to let me try it on their device.
One of the first things I investigated once I got an iPhone was how to get the NextMUNI info on my phone. At first I used the standard NextMUNI site, which works fine, and is free. However, I noticed that in my case, with a couple of odd commutes (1 day a week to an office, another day a week on BART, and so on) that flipping back and forth between multiple mobile sites became more trouble than it was worth. I eventually purchased Routesy 1.0 at the Apple iTunes Store.
However, I found that Routesy 1.0 had some limits as well. The long list of routes could be tedious to scroll down in a hurry, and there was no way to “bookmark” commonly used stops. I was ready to look elsewhere ,but got a copy of Routesy 2.0 beta to try out, just before it was released in the Apple Store, where you can download it today. Not only did it make many improvements, it also upgraded many of the features that made 1.0 great to use.
I’ve posted a Flickr set of screenshots of Routesy, but I’ll go over the main features here too. As you can see in the screenshot posted in the entry here, the screen clearly tells you all the upcoming times for the next bus to show up. If there are other routes that stop at the same place, Routesy will tell you those times too. It will also use the Location Services feature to try and find the stop nearest you, if you pick out a line. I find this to be useful if I’m going on MUNI to a part of town I don’t normally go to via bus that often, and have a vague idea of where I need to be, but am not sure what stop to pick out.
And, if you’re stuck at Powell Station and the N isn’t showing up when you need it, you can see all the other trains coming in at that stop, and consider a KLM/44 shuffle instead. (This alone was worth the 2.99 for the app).
By far, the biggest improvement is the ability to bookmark commonly used stops, and these bookmarks load up upon launching the app. You can bookmark any stop on either BART or MUNI, and you can always change them. The one thing I’ve noticed is that if you have a lot of bookmarks and NextMUNI or AT&T or the iPhone decide to have “lag day,” this can slow things up a little, but it doesn’t happen enough to be a big deal.
Scrolling through the lists of routes on MUNI is made much easier, as inbound and outbound routes are separated into different lists. This eliminated a lot of the button pushing through menus to get to the stop you want. In the case of BART stops, each stop is listed and upon choosing one, all trains (listed by destination, as BART does) are displayed. This makes it easy to figure out when the train you want is coming or going.
All stops and stations feature the option of displaying a map that shows you where you are in relation to said stop or station. I noticed that in the new version, the map displays a bit more clearly and with more color than in the past.
If you tend to use just a few MUNI stops for your commute, and NextMUNI is working fine for you, either on your mobile device or at the bus shelter, then you probably don’t need this application. However, if you find yourself relying on MUNI for more than just a basic “stop to stop” commute, and need to know about transfers to other MUNI lines or to BART, or have several stops you hit during your weekly routine, you may want to consider buying an application. If I’d had something like this on a mobile device when I had that lonnnng Inner Sunset to Lafayette daily commute, this would have been a nice time saver.
So far I’ve liked this one the most, but I have tried others (
iCommute being the best iCommute sucks, and the company that makes it has engaged in some shady marketing, maligning others with false statements) that come close to matching some of Routesy’s capabilities and cost about the same. However, when asked which one I’d pick, I’d choose Routesy because of its integration with BART and because its interface is a bit faster when you’re busy and need to know what’s going on with MUNI.
If you have found another application, on the iPhone or other device, that you like, please let me know and I’ll be happy to check it out!