Tuesday, December 21, 2010

OneBusAway iPhone App Updated

I'm happy to announce that we've released an update to the OneBusAway iPhone application.

What's new?
  • Support for service alerts - details about detours, cancellations, and other service changes.
  • Better route and trip maps.
You can grab the app here. Hopefully the update will go smoothly for you, but let us know if you have any issues.

The primary change is one that you hopefully won't see any time soon. As we hinted in our discussion of the most recent snow storm here in the Puget Sound region, we've had some changes in the works to make it easier to show you information about reroutes, cancellations, and other service changes. You can see a demo video of service alerts in action below:

Another minor change we made is a tweak to the map display of routes and trips. We now show the full route path, not just stops, for routes and trips (only on iOS 4.x devices):

Thanks to all our beta-testers for their feedback on the app. We appreciate your feedback too, so let us know what you think of the new app.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

OneBusAway iPhone App UI Design Question

I'm looking for some feedback on a user-interface design issue in the OneBusAway iPhone app. I figure there are some iPhone designers and users out there that might have some good ideas on how to tackle the problem. The problem is this:

When you are looking at real-time info for a stop, there are a variety of actions you might want to take: add a bookmark, filter the routes, see nearby stops, show the full schedule, see service alerts, report a problem... the list gets longer every day. And so does the list of buttons at the bottom of the arrivals screen:

I think that list of action buttons is getting a little overwhelming. One option is to put them all on a separate screen with a single action button leading things off:

The problem with this approach is that it reduces the visibility of those options. In fact, the very first revision of the app worked this way and I had a lot of reports from users that they couldn't figure out how to bookmark their stop, mostly because the action wasn't very visible.


Another option is some sort of detail indicator on the stop name itself:

Also a number of people have commented on the Service Alert indicator. The image above shows what happens when you have an unread stop-oriented service alert (very visible). Once you've read the service alert, the main service alert element shown above goes away. However, we still include it the action list at the bottom so that you can go back an access the service alert after you've read it.

Our options are limited in some ways, because some normal places you might put action buttons (the upper right corner, the lower toolbar) are already spoken for.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how to deal with this trade-off between an increasing number of actions and the desire to make them visible to the user? Especially in an iPhone app? Maybe you've seen another app that does this well. I'd love your feedback.

Feel free to leave a comment or drop an e-mail at contact@onebusaway.org. Thanks!