Friday, May 11, 2012

London Travel for Windows Phone 7 review

Londoners in seek of the ultimate public transport app? Look no further. London Travel has long been a favourite of mine and is the first app I would recommend to any Windows Phone 7 users who lives or is visiting London. It is simply the best Tube related app that I have used on any mobile platform. That includes the mighty iOS/iPhone ecosystem and Android.

Developed by an indie developer called Irtiqa, London Travel original claim to fame was the support for Oyster card balance. Via your Oyster card online account, you can set the app up to display the balance of a single Oyster card, which I think is rather neat for any PAYG Oyster card users (like me). Other features includes live Tube status updates, route planner, live Underground departure boards, an officially licensed Tube with Overground map, bus routes and bus departure countdown.
With support for Live Tiles, London Travel is reassuringly Mango-optimised. Pinnable Live Tiles include one that displays your primary Oyster card balance and single line Tube updates. The default Live Tile of the app itself will display the number of disruptions on the Tube network. Individual stations can also be pinned, but these aren't Live Tiles as they are mere shortcuts to the relevant stations that makes planning just a bit easier.

The route planner feature is pretty extensive. With the ability to plan over multiple public transports, including London's National Rail network, Overground, DLR, Tube, Tram, Buses, Coaches and River, it mirrors the excellent route planner found on TfL's own website. You can also deselect mode of transport, an extremely important feature should you, for example, not fancy taking a smelly London bus that day. Unfortunately, the route planner requires an online connection as calculations are all done 'in the cloud', and while there is a Tube map to fall back on, it would be nice to see offline routing built into future updates.
Seeing London's bit of National Rail network integrated into this is brilliant, as it was my main source of complaint with Nokia's gratis Nokia Transport app. Instructions are well presented, with clear icons representing each type of public transport, service number and the direction of whichever public transport. Tapping on the station's name will also bring up the integrated Bing Map displaying the location. All in all, a very good effort has been put into making the UI both attractive, easy to read and still respectful of the fabulous WP7 Metro design language.

As solid an app London Travel is, there are a couple of features I would like to see the developer implement. While the Henry Beck-ish classic Tube map is always good by itself, a separate map integrating National Rail will be useful for the many who are forced to go through London to make connecting train services elsewhere. I would also like to see the ability to pin the departure board of a station. And despite Barclays Cycle Hire (aka Ken/Boris Bikes depending on who you ask) not necessarily classified as a public transport, it would be nice to see it integrated.
The route planner could also see some updates. Offline routing should be high on the developer's priority to implement, and online route planning should take into account disruptions or station closing time (API permitting). While this will no affect me, it would be nice to see options to make this app friendly to the less mobile. For example, the route planner should have an option that allows people with mobility issues to search routes that does not take them through stations with poor or limited access.

Originally released on the Marketplace back in the pre-'No-Do' days of Windows Phone, London Travel has seen multiple updates and is now a mature solid app. Price has recently risen to £1.49, which is still a bargain considering the amount of features it contains and how mature and solid the app is. There is also a free 'Lite' version which supports Oyster card balance and live Tube status updates. To download London Travel now, search 'London Travel' on the Marketplace or visit here.

No comments: