Citymapper: my choice for best vacation app. Seriously, don’t leave home without it!

All the options, including Rampaging Android, from our hotel to the zoo.

All the options, including Rampaging Android, from our hotel to the zoo.

One of the first needs of a visitor to any city is to get around effectively. In New York City that means using public transportation, especially the subway. That used to involve pulling out a map, figuring out what lines were near to both start and end points, and trying to figure out what line would take us the least time. Google Maps did a good job at initially mapping public transportation and allowing users to plan routes but the Citymapper app blows it away. Why?

The big reasons:

  1. Unfailingly chooses the most optimal route, be it one subway line or bus ride or a combination of two. This is the most essential feature and Citymapper wisely chose to keep it front and center in the app. Everything else is icing on the cake.
  2. Easy to follow route, with instructions and a map to help users reach the right starting point and transfer at the right station.
  3. Many route options, including a few “subway only” or “bus only” in case one mode of transport is prefered.
  4. Using actual timetables to provide an estimate of how long a journey will take.

The small reasons:

  1. Having a pretty accurate database of existing locations by name in addition to the traditional location search by address. Four tourists it is much easier to enter an attraction or a restaurant’s name than an address. After all, it’s easier to remember the “Museum of Modern Art” than “11 W 53rd St.”
  2. Remembering recent locations and allowing saved locations. There’s really no reason to re-enter our hotel every time, it’s right there on the list.
  3. The calorie count for walking or biking the route motivates exercise, and justifies that muffin.
  4. Estimating the cost of a taxi for every route option. I’m sure native New Yorkers can do this without hesitation but as tourists looking at a few routes helped us decide to just get a 7-day MetroCard.
  5. Offering Hoverboard and Rampaging Android (virtually picked up at start point, carried, and dropped off at destination by a huge Android) options. Priceless!

Improvements, but really, these are minor quibbles:

  1. Include cost for every option. Right now Citymapper provides the estimated cost for a cab ride for the journey selected but it would be nice to see costs for other options as well, even if that cost is simply $2.75 per ride. This is more helpful for longer routes, for example, getting to the city from the airport. A taxi costs around $80 but using public transportation requires a combination of systems and costs
  2. Include a drive time if the nearest public transport station is too far away. Right now Citymapper’s only option is to walk but in the ‘burbs, driving to a station is more productive than walking. Bonus: say how much parking costs at the station’s lot.
Taking the weather into account and offering a Rain Safe route.

Taking the weather into account and offering a Rain Safe route.

Finally, the one feature that puts this app way ahead of the competition: it knows the weather! I tried it when it was raining and, along with the usual time-optimized routes, Citymapper offered a “Rain Safe” route: one that might take a little longer but keeps users out of the rain.

Have you installed it yet?

 

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2 thoughts on “Citymapper: my choice for best vacation app. Seriously, don’t leave home without it!

  1. Pingback: New York tourist app wrap up: from Flush to WeatherBug | What it all boils down to

  2. Pingback: The best mobile app of 2015, according to TechCrunch | What it all boils down to

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