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Version 1.1 of TransLink’s iPhone App is now out

Version 1.1 of TransLink’s iPhone App is now out

The updated iPhone app features Google Maps integration!
The updated iPhone app features Google Maps integration!

Hey, version 1.1 of TransLink’s iPhone app is now available!

Version 1.1 is both an update of our original iPhone app and an update to our mobile site, adding new features and fixing some old bugs. If you have the app installed, it should already be updated on your phone, and you’ll find it includes:

  • Google Maps integration
    Instead of using PDF maps, Google Maps are now integrated into the app. Google Maps are more interactive maps that can display data like bus routes and stops, unlike a static PDF.
  • Full-text search
    You can now search for bus stops using full text, instead of inputting specific bus stop ID numbers. For example, search for “Burrard” and you’ll get a list of bus stops related to Burrard Street.
  • More information about bus stops
    Bus stops are now marked with directional information (westbound, eastbound, etc) to help users figure out which stop on an intersection they are looking for.
  • Location-awareness, to help you find nearby bus stops
    Tap the bus icon and if GPS is enabled on your phone, the app will automatically locate the closest bus stops to you. (This feature was included when the app moved to the App Store.)
  • The Buzzer blog!
    Huzzah! A big hello to all of you who reached the blog through the app today!
  • And of course, multiple bug fixes and interface improvements

As always, our iPhone app and the improvements are the handiwork of Handi Mobility, who develops the app for TransLink. And if you haven’t read it yet, here again is a past interview with Igor Faletski from Handi on the development of the iPhone app. Igor also mentioned why the app is mainly focused on iPhone customers at the moment in another comment thread:

While a lot of phones support Java, only a little fraction of them have data services enabled. On the contrary, 98% of iPhone users actively access the Internet. Moreover, the demographics of RIM and Symbian users in Vancouver do not match the transit rider population in a way that the iPhone does.

We carefully measure the stats of the universal mobile portal at http://m.translink.ca and iPhone users are the absolute majority there, with RIM being in a very distant second place. It’s a priority for us to provide service to everyone, but at the same time we work hard to improve the quality for those who use it the most.

Did you know, by the way, that TransLink is the first Canadian transit system to create its own iPhone app? I found that out from a post by Greg Andrews over at Techvibes. Greg also says that the Toronto and Montreal transit systems have third-party iPhone apps that cost $1.99 and $0.99 respectively. Ours, on the other hand, is free.

Also, here’s a few updated stats on how the rest of our mobile and web services are doing. Woo!

Next Bus has handled over 3 million requests since its launch in December 2007—that’s the SMS service where you text your stop number to 33333 and get the arrival times of the next six buses.

We currently get 14,000 Next Bus requests a day, and that jumps to 17,000 on Friday and Saturday nights. (It’s a strong indication that those under-30 [the chief users of SMS!] are choosing to plan their evenings out with public transit in mind.)

Then there’s TransLink’s mobile website, m.translink.ca, which registered over 4900 visits in the first week of November, with 71 per cent of them coming from iPhones.

The TransLink Trip Planner is also doing robust business, with 722,500 visits just in October alone. (And if you’re curious, Google sent 87,000 of those visits to the trip planner.)

For the future, we’re also going to improve our website in 2009, with a new focus on customer service and social media interaction. You’ll be able to subscribe to specific transport information you need. (If you’re curious, I’ve already discussed anticipated elements of the new site in this comment thread. For notifications, we’re looking to put in RSS feeds and email alerts to bring customer alert info to you.)

As well, when Coast Mountain Bus Company’s communications upgrade is complete and real-time GPS tracking is functional for our entire bus fleet, the entire suite of Next Bus applications (mobile, iPhone, Facebook and SMS) will provide the next six actual bus arrivals at a given stop, rather than the next six scheduled arrivals, as it does now.