Update available for Go Metro Los Angeles app for smartphones

The update was posted earlier this week to the iTunes store. Here are the links for the iPhone app, the iPad app and the Android app.

Here’s a rundown of the revisions:

iPhone/iPad

•Compatible with iOS6
•Schedule data is updated
•New iPad-centric user interface
•Minor bug fixes

Android

•Schedule data is updated

Also, I wanted to help explain one screen that users may find confusing when using the map to determine when the next train is leaving. For example, let’s say you use the map function to determine you’re at Union Station and you want to find what time the next few Gold Line trains are leaving. The app shows you this screen:

The easiest way to understand this is pay attention to the station mentioned in each line. In the first line above, the app is you telling that a Sierra Madre Villa-bound train is arriving at Union Station at 1:01 p.m.

The second line is confusing because there is a train arriving at Union Station at 7:52 p.m. — but it’s headed out of service, thus the reason there’s no ultimate destination. That’s a programming glitch that is being fixed.

The third line is telling you that a train bound for Atlantic Station is arriving at Union Station at 1:04 p.m.

Another example for the Red/Purple Line subway from Union Station:

Above, ignore the first and third lines — they’re only telling you what times that Red Line and Purple Line trains are arriving at Union Station. The information you probably want is when trains are leaving Union Station! That’s in the second line — showing the next train to North Hollywood at 1:22 p.m.  For the Purple Line, the info is in the fourth line, which shows the next train bound for Wilshire/Western leaving at 1:17 p.m.

Finally, how do you like the Go Metro app? Any suggestions? Comment please.

4 replies

  1. Anyone looking for schedule information based on your location, similar to the Metro app but less confusing, should check out Next Ride for iOS (don’t know about an Android version).

  2. The app’s pretty good for the first version. But it sure does need a lot of work before it’s really useful! As you explain in the above blog post, it’s super-confusing, with lots of data that you’re supposed to ignore. Even after reading this blog post, I still don’t understand how you’re supposed to know which times you should ignore and which ones you should look at.

    Take out the word “Metro” at the start of each line and “Station” at the end. That’s just extra text that takes up space and clogs the small screen. We already know it’s Metro. You don’t have to tell us, like we’re going to confuse it with some other Red Line. And we already know that it’s going to a station — nobody thinks that the train is going to wander aimlessly through North Hollywood. On a mobile app, where screen real estate is at a premium, even a few needless words are very wasteful.

    Also, what does “(802)” and “(805)” mean? Is that a Metro code for the red and purple lines? Nobody refers to the lines that way except for engineers, so those numbers should be taken out altogether so they don’t cause more clutter and confusion.

    It’s confusing that it says “Red Line (802) North Hollywood Station.” What ABOUT North Hollywood? Is that the train’s destination? It should say “Red Line to West Hollywood.” The word “to” makes a big difference. Newcomers will not understand that that’s the destination unless you make it clear.

    This blog post seems to indicate that in the second screenshot a Red Line train is departing Union Station at 1:22. But if that’s its departure time, why is it listed under “Scheduled Arrivals”? The app should indicate which of these times are arrivals and which are departures.

    Also, it’s nuts that there’s no GPS for the trip planner. That is the most useful feature this app could offer, and not having it is almost a deal-breaker for using the app.

    It’s very nice that there are arrival times on all of the stops on the map. But it should indicate how old those arrival times are. When I’m looking at something that says “2 minutes,” I don’t have any way of knowing whether that prediction is from 2 seconds ago or 5 minutes ago.

    On each of the stops on the map, there should be a button to view a map of that route.

    The maps should indicate where stops are, instead of just where cross-streets are.

    The names of the routes are very confusing; and on lines with very long names, the names get cut off. For example, it is really hard to figure out what is meant by: “2 Downtown LA – Pacific Palisades Via – West to West Hollywood-Sunset-San Vi…” What direction is this bus heading in? Is it coming FROM Downtown or going TO Downtown? What is the word “Via” doing there, seemingly not connected to anything? The route names should be friendlier and should fit in the app without being cut off, like “2 Westbound: Dntn LA to Pac Palisds Via WeHo & Brentwd.”

    When you click the “Trip From” or “Trip To” buttons, it takes you to the “Trips” section. There should be a “back” button here to return the user to the map.

    This is a minor issue, but the icons really should be optimized for retina.

    The Twitter accounts (@bikemetro, @metrolibrary, etc) should have their own “Twitter” section. Clicking on those accounts should provide some more details about them (like, the description from their Twitter profile). There should be a way to tweet at those accounts from within the app. There should be an option to get notifications of new tweets.

    Also, when you click on the “More Mobile Apps,” it should go to a page that’s optimized for mobile devices!

    How about convening an public charrette to go over the app and talk about how it can be improved? I bet there are a lot of transit & design nerds who would love to participate.