Transit direction apps get boost after Apple Maps release

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By Scott Reyburn Comment

Apple’s newly released iOS 6 on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch doesn’t include transit directions in its new Maps app, a feature many city folks relied upon until now.Apple Maps app

At Apple’s WWDC 2012 on June 11, Apple’s senior vice president of marketing Phil Schiller confirmed that the Cupertino, Calif.-based corporation was swapping out its support for Google Maps as the built-in map app for iOS and launching it’s own maps service instead, but without transit directions.

The removal of transit directions in Apple’s Maps app is one of the reasons why people are so upset. The features that are in the app have served up misplaced businesses, city name misspellings and distorted 3D images to the users. A Tumblr was created to visually show some of the issues users have been experiencing from the Maps app. Apple told the BBC on Sept. 21 that the Maps app will “improve.”

Right now, when users click the transit button (looks like a bus) on Apple’s Maps app, a section within the app itself suggests third-party public routing apps like Transit and Embark NYC, which will take users out of the Maps app completely. The apps are selected through App Store categories and location data.

Apps that are suggested by Apple Maps are seeing a traffic bump. Transit apps featured in Maps such as HopStop and Embark have seen significant traffic increases, while apps that aren’t featured yet like Transporter are experiencing a lift as well. Here are three third-party transit apps described above that have seen a boost in usage due to the iOS 6 Maps woes.

HopStop

The HopStop app gives users step-by-step directions including which stops the user will pass, transit maps, schedules and more for many metropolitan American cities. The app is free on iOS, Android and Windows Mobile. HopStop CEO Joe Meyer told us via email that their app has seen a huge lift in downloads, usage and traffic since the release of iOS 6.

Meyer says since the night of Sept. 19 when HopStop’s iPad app became integrated with Apple Maps, daily downloads for the app were up 800 percent as of the end of Sept. 21. iPhone app daily downloads are up 300 percent as well despite not the app not being integrated into Apple Maps until early to mid this week.

“We expect both of these percentages to increase dramatically once both of our iOS apps are fully integrated with Apple Maps,” says Meyer.

HopStop AppData

The HopStop for iPhone app didn’t have much change in rank for the navigation genre, but once iOS 6 released, the app started to rank in the top free apps category with it’s highest position on Sept. 21 at the No. 183 spot.

Embark

Apps by Embark are broken down by a handful of big cities such as San Francisco, New York City and Chicago. Currently Embark has metro data in a total of 12 separate apps for nine different metropolitan cities. Embark offers users the ability to plan trips with play-by-play instructions that display the best route, number of stops and estimated arrival time. The app also has neat features like notifications telling the user a train is running late or closed and trip planning without a signal such as being at an underground subway station.

Embark CEO David Hodge told us via email that their company has seen a significant boost in downloads, although the company doesn’t have precise numbers yet. Hodge also says Embark is the leading transit app in all the markets they cover including New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., London and others.

Regarding how to be listed as a third-party app in Maps, Hodge says Apple provides easy instructions to make App Store submissions of routing apps.Embark New York City Subway

Using Embark’s app for New York City’s subway system, the app jumped from the No. 19 spot in the navigation genre on Sept. 19 to the No. 3 spot on Sept. 21 and remains at the position as of today. Embark’s app also ranked in the top free apps category, reaching the No. 156 position on Sept. 21.

Transporter

Transporter is a public transit app for San Francisco Bay Area commuters only. The app gives users detailed information for SF Muni, BART and AC Transit. The main selling point for the app is its real-time arrival times for buses and trains. Users can also save transit routes as favorites to bring up at a later time.

We reached out to developers for the Transporter and have not heard back before press time.Transporter AppData

On iOS 6’s launch day Sept. 19, Transporter jumped from No. 102 spot in the navigation genre to no. 52 spot on Sept. 21. The app has since dropped off to No. 75 position as of today. You can follow the progress for all three of these apps with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.

There is a workaround to get Google Maps on iOS 6. Users can access Google Maps thanks to an HTML 5 web app through the Safari browser by going to maps.google.com and then clicking the export button, which saves the app to an iOS device’s home screen. All the features vacant in Apple’s Maps app — transit and walking directions — are now available again. Users can utilize GPS by enabling location sharing within Safari’s settings.