MoveIt App: Bus and Train Live Info Blog Post
By Jessica Hodges
Yesterday, my phone died. I was just about to leave for an appointment. The result? Four wrong busses, going back and forth. Ok…maybe part of that was being a bit sleepy on the bus…but I did get on the wrong bus twice. Being unfamiliar with the area didn’t help. Usually, I use tools on my phone to keep me mostly awake, and track where I am and how I need to get where I need to go. One such tool specific to bus and train travel is called move it.
Move it is a tool for searching transits across cities, letting you easily search for an address or place name, find a route that works for you, and track your progress on your way. The interface is simple and clean, making all these steps a breeze.
Move it is divided into three segments. Each segment is a tab at the bottom of the screen, directions, stations, and lines. Under the stations tab, you can find two tabs, nearby and favorites. Under the nearby tab, stations are listed by distance. VoiceOver will read the station, how close it is, and lines that come to it, for example “Station X Street and Y Avenue, is two minutes’ walk away from you, 77, 11, 22, 33,” the next two swipes find the lines that service that station, and when the next expected arrival time is. After those two, there is a button that is labeled “View all lines for this station.” Tapping this button does exactly what it says, bringing you to a list of lines. Tapping on a line brings you to the stations it stops at, and at what time. If you didn’t tap on this button, the next swipe will bring you to the next closest station.
The lines tab opens onto three buttons, search for a line, all lines, alerts, and favorites. The search for a line button lets you search all lines. All lines present you with a list, and alerts lets you know if there are any problems or changes made to a line. Below this is a list of all your recently searched lines. Tapping on a line, either hear, or in the search window, gives you all the stations this line goes to, and the estimated arrival time. Tapping on a station gives you all the lines that go to that station, with their estimated arrival time. The favorites button lets you see any lines you’ve put in your favorites, which you can do from the lines screen.
When you open the app, it automatically defaults to the directions tab. On this screen you can find a menu button, labeled as more. Here, you can find various options and bits of information for move it including settings, work and home addresses, options for syncing favorite places across devices, a profile editing screen, and options to rate and share the app. The buttons here are labeled accordingly. One of the interesting things in this screen are notifications move it can send that will tell you each morning the most efficient route to get to work based on traffic. I do not use this feature, as I go to a different place every morning and from a different place every afternoon due to splitting work and school, but I have heard from others it makes accurate predictions and usually saves time.
Usually I have no need for this menu, and go instead to the button next to it, the search for directions button. Below this are shortcuts for home and work, and after that are your most common searches. Tapping on one of these brings up a screen where you can confirm your search or adjust the time of either departure or arrival. Whether you’re aiming on departure or arrival time is accessed by a menu, which you can find by tapping on the leave at button. Once you’ve chosen whether you’re looking to leave by, or arrive by, a certain time, the times can be changed by a simple slider. Whenever you’re searching for a place through any part of the app, the way you operate the search screen is still the same. When viewing the recent searches however, keep in mind that home and work still count as searches even though they are activated by shortcut instead of the button above.
Below the most common searches is a short list of your most recent trips. I haven’t gone, or searched for, where I’m going today, so instead I need the search for directions button. Tapping on this button lands you in a search field, into which you can type where you’re trying to go. Below this button are some of your more recent searches in a scrolling list. Tonight, I’m going to a poetry meat up, so I type in the name of a close by cafe. The search results are displayed with address first, then place name. So, the first thing I find is the cafe’s address, the second is the cafe name. Even though this took swipes, it is the same result. Swiping past this will yield me another address, and the one after that another place name, being two results down. I didn’t need to do this however, since it was the first result I wanted.
Tapping on a search results brings me to a list of ways to get there. The screen is headed by a button that states the search, where you’re going, and what time. If I want to change this, tapping on this button will let me do so. Today I’ve got it right, so I swipe to the list. They are usually sorted by time, from shortest to longest. Flicking to a result will first say the line name, the time the trip will take, the specific times of the trip, and the street corner. It will also tell you if a station is accessible to wheel chairs and strollers. So, it might sound something like this. ” Route 1, 16, from 3:28 Pm to 4:10 PM, leaves in 22 minutes from X Street and Y Avenue, this route includes stations that are accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.” A flick to the right will bring you to the next result. It’s the first one I want, so I double tap.
The screen I am taken to has a heading of where I’m trying to go, and how long it will take. After that is a share button. The next heading tells us when the trip begins and ends. In the event the time is not in fact when I want to leave, these next two elements are an earlier and later button. It is important to use these buttons if you need them and want to have the app keep track of where you are. To the right of these buttons is a series of steps and some GPS directions. In order. They are: “Start from your current location” “Leave at (insert time here) Walk to X Street and Y Avenue.” After this button is a button that gives the number of minutes, and length of the walk. Tapping on this button presents you with a list of directions to get to the stop. Generally, these consist of how many feet away the stop is and in what direction. Next, it tells you what line to wait for, and when it’s coming. Then, it will tell you how many stops to ride, and what stop to get off, saying something like “Ride to V Street and W Avenue.” The next button gives the number of stops, and the time the bus trip will take. Tapping here will let you see a list of stops along the way. Tapping the button again will hide them. If there is a transfer, it will then repeat the steps above. At the end is an estimation of how long it will take to walk to your destination. Below this are options to report problems with either the line or the station. The last button on the screen is a start live directions button. Tapping this button will give you live directions all along the trip, beginning with GPS directions to the stop. These only work when the phone is unlocked however, and I tend to save battery for the tedium of bus trips themselves, so I generally use something like google maps to supplement. When waiting, the app will give a push notification telling you when the bus is approaching and is generally right on the mark. Today, I get the notification right as I’m running up to the bus stop, and the bus pulls up about fifteen-seconds later.
Busses are quite loud, and I like to wear headphones to preserve my sanity. Without this app, I’d never dare to do such a thing. With it however, I let myself. The app will send me notifications when I’m two stops away, one stop away, and getting off the bus, and this works in the background, so I can lock my screen or be reading a great audiobook, looking at Twitter, or taking notes for a class.
I only must be careful not to let my battery run down, as the app will not accurately send notifications when in low power mode. Notifications are in perfect time with bus announcements, letting me know about fifteen-seconds before I need to get off, allowing me to pack my phone and stand.
Thanks to move it, I was able to plan my trip, take the correct bus, and get off in a timely manner, without shredding my eardrums with bus rumbles, other people’s screaming children, and beeping bus doors. It has worked for trips both before and since then, and I continue to make it a consistent travel staple as it simplifies daunting line directions to a few simple steps with guided alerts along the way. The app has worked very well for me, and I hope it will for others.