Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Apple Apps

You know how I really want subway maps on my iPod? My wildest map dreams for you can come true—if you don’t mind a $9.99 fee, have an iPhone or iPod touch, and live or need NYC/San Francisco/DC—by way of Apple’s Apps. Ladies and gentleman: iTrans. (Applications cover New York’s subways, the BART, PATH, and Metro.)

Described as “high-quality vector maps of the New York City subway system anywhere, including underground!” the application uses tapping and pinching to utilize zooming and allows the user to search for a station to obtain directions. iTrans’ FAQ says it will account for the time of day when it maps your route, being mindful of schedules. The reviews are mostly positive with the biggest grip directed at the application’s outrageous price. (A Lite version is available for $0.99.) Bonus: the application comes in English and Spanish.

You can get CityTransit for $2.99. NYC Subway is the only transit system developer Magnetism Studios offers. The application doesn’t include zooming—and according to its competitor and user reviews (the veracity of which is debatable)—has less vectorific graphics. Still, it’s not impossible that I won’t download it when I upgrade my iPod later this month. (Hey, developers! Send me your software for trial runs! I’ll give helpful feedback.*) The description does note that “service advisories provide fresh data from the MTA website to your [device], allowing you to quickly see the latest changes in subway service.” Really, isn’t that more than we already wanted in a map anyway? I just wanted to know I always had a digital copy of a map.

I guess you could just as easily look at a map, but in defense of my unending lazy activities, I was given a CTA map last week, dropped it in my bag, and found it covered in a mysterious candy goo when I took it out of its previously safe home. I never found another map. So ha! …My experience has found New York substantially easier, however.

Or you could develop your own software! As interactive media grows more complicated and creative I wish I knew how to write programs. I’d be so organized! If you make an App of your own, promise you’ll share it? Despite its price and other drawbacks it’s still fascinating. Now add Baltimore and CTA to your list, iTrans! I have many needs.

(It is possible, of course, to install the map on your iPod without hacking the device. I just don’t know how to accomplish this successfully, but all of my friends in New York have.)

*That wasn’t ethical.

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