Harry Richardson

The Apps I Use: CityMapper

| Comments

I use CityMapper at least twice a day, every weekday. Once in the morning to check my journey is all good and no delays. Second, in the evening, on the way home from work, to check there are no delays! It’s an invaluable tool, and while not perfect, every time I’ve e-mailed the developers with a suggestion they have been extremely polite and taken it on-board.

CityMapper takes every bit of data they can get their hands on and then uses it to provide the user with information on how to get from A to B - whether it’s fastest to take a single tube, a bus and a tube, or simply just to walk.

One of the things I really like about CityMapper is how chilled-out everything is. The developers have taken great lengths to provide the user with a genuinely fun experience for something that could quite easily be boring and monotonous. For example, when searching for the fastest route somewhere, the app may tell you the fastest way is actually via catapult - and by choosing the option you get to see a short animation of the catapult in motion. The update notes are also usually filled with humour; sure, they provide the information you need to know, but the developers do it in a way that’s interesting and enjoyable.

There are certainly areas for improvement: for example, change times within stations are not always accurate. It may say 1 minute to change from Circle to Piccadilly, when in fact it would take at least 5 minutes. Not always a big problem for most journeys, but for those really tight ones, it matters. This was one of the points I e-mailed the developers about and they replied incredibly quickly, letting me know it would be in the next release (and it was). I have a feeling live traffic data is not being used in the app, but from what I can tell, bus and car journey listed times do change throughout the day. Something is obviously going on under the covers - perhaps the developers took the approach of using the time of day to alter a base duration.

Another area I’d like to see improved would be automatic caching of recent routes. Recent routes only save as destinations, not including starting points. I would much prefer the whole route was saved, and then cached, because a lot of the time when I want to check my route I am on the tube and have no signal!

CityMapper is a wonderful app with a great design and colour scheme. It provides accurate, useful information. Navigation (of the app) is simple and natural. There are very few downsides within the app, and I’ve so far not encountered any serious bugs. When I talk to friends and colleagues about the apps they use and enjoy, CityMapper is almost always mentioned - it is that prominent in people’s minds.

Comments