Free TTC Mobile iPhone app @ bit.ly/ttcmobile (Support)

What TTC Mobile 2.0 could be. Comments?

January 22nd, 2010

So I’m trying to figure out how to structure the app to incorporate other regions, like YRT, without disrupting the smooth flow people are already used to. Right now my prototype is a tab bar at the bottom (as shown on the right, click for full view) with the following tabs:

Map, TTC, Subway, YRT, Updates

A perfect app would start in Map, always, and immediately show a GPS-enabled offline map zoomed in near where you are, showing a live view of where buses are.

Then if you click a stop and view its full schedule, the app swaps to TTC or YRT tabs, remembering that you viewed that stop (to save it as a favourite like it does now for routes) and shows you the stop info. Seeing a bus you want, you click it, and it loads that bus’ route, which you then see ends at a Subway stop.

You click the Subway stop and it switches to the Subway tab, showing that subway station, its buses, and perhaps a brief map of what the station looks like inside and out, including accessibility features, bus loading areas and nearby amenities.

Then an alert appears at the top of the screen, saying that the line the subway station serves is now running shuttle buses at this station, so you tap the button to follow this alert. After a minute of browsing what’s nearby, you decide to grab lunch at a place just outside one subway exit. Maybe the app could tell you who else is thinking the same thing, foursquare-enabled perhaps? ;-) Halfway through your meal, your iPhone buzzes with a ping from the app that the problem has cleared. So you take the rest to go, and head back on the subway.

As you leave the restaurant, you see some stalled streetcars and hit the TTCU button on the Updates tab to quick-report it, with GPS pre-filling the nearby routes and helping pinpoint the problem. While on that tab, you see that routes are expected to change next Monday, and that you can download another GTFS dataset from the TTC to cover the new changes. You decide to download that now and hit the button, which adds a progress bar as it downloads in the background….

Now, in reality, I don’t have that kind of info or map yet, so the app will likely start with the TTC tab open, and that tab will be exactly like the app is now, displaying Routes and Favourites, but with new offline data powered either by a cached ttc.ca or myttc.ca GTFS or both, along with the option to instead use the same old online version in the current app. YRT at least will be GTFS-based, since the YRT has released it’s non-real-time info in that Google-compatible format. GPS data is another problem, though I suppose its primary use will be on the Map view, secondarily as yet more accurate timings on a Stop or Route list.

Oh and this isn’t limited just to an iPhone/iPod Touch. I think I’d port the idea over to Android/BlackBerry. Not sure yet how I’d replace the tab bar on a non-touch screen but I’m sure I can figure something out. (Secondary click? Hmm.)

How else can I add social features, more accuracy? I was thinking of having buttons like “I’m at this stop now” and “Bus just arrived” or a GPS-enabled bus-location-sharing and early-warning-system, like a stand-alone GPS device for transit: Imagine playing music through this app and having the app play voiceovers like: “Bus 84 will arrive at Downsview station in 1 minute.” or “Next stop, Allen Rd.” If you enter your destination, or have a route planned, it could just announce the time and let you know as you approach the stop you should transfer at, etc. Meanwhile it can also report where the 84 bus is for anyone waiting for it at upcoming stops.

Any comments? Please reply below with your thoughts/ideas. Thanks!


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