Setting aside the problems and discussion around Apple’s new Maps app and service, I was pleasantly surprised this evening by the new third-party-friendly transit experience.
I live in Chicago, and Transit (free, optional subscription) appears to be the first app to integrate with Apple’s new Maps app and offer Chicago transit information (bonus points: it supports all regional systems—CTA, Metra, and Pace).
Set your start and end destinations, or tap ‘Directions to Here’ in any place’s details view, tap the transit option in the top toolbar, then tap route. If you have any installed transit apps to which Maps can hand off your directions, they’ll appear at the top. Below those (or if you don’t have any), Maps will display a list of transit apps you can find in the store. As you can see, I have Transit installed, so tapping ‘Route’ will trigger the app swap.
Transit picks up where Maps left off, doing exactly what it’s supposed to: it displays the nearest train or bus options and a couple alternative routes and times at the top.
I’m actually glad Apple Maps doesn’t support transit directions yet. I’m not even that interested in seeing Apple tackle this problem, though I’m sure it’s on the to-do list. But if you ask 10 different commuters what they want out of a transit routing experience, you’ll probably get 10 different answers. Other people may want a very different experience from this, or integration with other services that I don’t need. Now we have access to making that choice.
I like Transit because it supports a whole bunch of things Apple—and Google—don’t and may never bother with. Transit lets you set preferred directions and, if you opt for a subscription, do some other great stuff like download routes for offline use, view real-time schedules (where available), and set routes as favorites.
It’s going to be a bumpy transition for many people, and Apple Maps needs significant work in many areas around the world when it comes to accuracy and sheer breadth of available data. That stuff simply takes time to perfect, and in general, it works for me pretty well in Chicago. But as far as the transit experience goes, I’m pretty happy so far.