The top 5 TTC Android apps
Transit smartphone apps are one of those technological advancements that you can't believe you lived without. Remember when you had to wait in the cold with absolutely nothing but a hope and prayer waiting for a streetcar? Now at least you have a hope, a prayer and an app that tells you that the car is delayed.
iPhone and Android both offer TTC-goers a pretty good selection in the way of apps that help find the nearest stop and more importantly when the next bus, streetcar or subway car is coming. From my quick count, iPhone outweighs Android by offering seven more transit apps with a total of forty over Google Play's thirty-three.
Although most of the apps use the same real-time TTC information feeds, the features, design and user experience vary. I thought I would do some of the work for you and give you my top five picks. But instead of focusing on iPhone, which usually gets all the love, this list is all Android baby.
Here are my choices for the top five TTC Android apps available right now.
The Transit App just released their app to the Google Play store July 30th, just in time to make this list. And I'm happy they did. It's only a couple days old in the Google Play store and already has 154 reviews with a 4-star rating. The Transit App has seen tremendous success on iOS having been featured by Apple and nabbing over 35,000 downloads in just 72 hours. And it is easy to see why.
Transit App's design is simple, iconographic and clean, which is a stark difference from most of the catalogue in this category. One of the great features of Transit is the immediacy of the information you want as soon as you open the app. Instead of a screen asking you to configure your location and favorite routes, Transit App pulls up the nearest bus, streetcar and train stops and tells you right away when they are coming.
Transit App also provides the ability to map stops, select arrival or depart times and configure your favourites for even easier access and personalization. It is also supported in over 43 cities including Montreal, NYC and San Francisco which is great for when you travel.
Transit Now Toronto for TTC
Transit Now was built by a student here in Toronto frustrated with waiting in the cold and wanting a solution. It is the only app that has both a free and paid version and one of two free apps that use ads. It's definitely well liked by Android users. It has over 2,800 reviews and a rating of 4.5 stars and the free and paid versions own the top two spots in the Top 30 Transit TTC app list in the Google Play app store.
The design of this app is lacking compared to some of the more polished apps like HopStop, Transit App and TTC Bus Schedule but it's not horrible and definitely doesn't get in the way of the functionality which is where this app wins. Transit Now offers everything from TTC alerts, maps, directions, notifications and more - making it one of the most feature rich apps of the bunch.
A pretty neat feature which isn't in the free version but is available in the paid one is voice announcements which alert you when you are about to arrive at your stop - great if you want to sleep on the bus or train and get notified so that you won't miss your stop or if you are navigating unfamiliar areas.
TTC Bus Schedule
If you can get past the confusing choice in naming the app "TTC Bus Schedule" in the Google Play store but using "Where's My Bus?" in branding everywhere else, this app is a welcome addition to the TTC offerings on Android. It is currently in Beta. Contrary to the name, the app provides you with more than just bus information around the city.
TTC Bus Schedule wins hands down on design. The app uses a modern retro color scheme which is easy on the eyes. What's also very refreshing about this app is the simplicity in its functionality. The app focuses on one single use case and does it very well: What's around me and when is it coming?
Like the Transit App - the first screen that comes up in TTC Bus Schedule is a list of nearby transit stops and the estimated time of arrival. Tapping on these choices brings up a map showing you where the stop is located in the city and the ability to set an alarm for when it arrives.
Next TTC is another free app that has decided to use ads but unlike Transit Now it doesn't offer a paid version to get rid of them. The app has a 4-star rating at the time of this review held the third position of the Top 30 Transit TTC apps in Google Play app store.
The app's design is functional but out of the five it is the least pleasing on the eyes. Like Transit Now the app makes up for its lack of design with its features. Finding stops by stop number, saving favourite stops, finding nearby stops and an integrated TTC twitter feed are some of the features of this application which make it worth the download.
You can't have a list of Transit apps without talking about HopStop. When you search for transit in Google Play, it's one of the first apps to come up and it currently has over 2,500 reviews with a solid 4-star rating. HopStop was recently in the news as Apple just acquired the company giving it even more cred.
Although HopStop does offer a lot of features, the fact that you have to configure a lot when you enter the app is why it appears lower on my list. Compared to other transit apps above, HopStop requires a lot more work to figure out the best way to get where you are going and that is not something you necessarily want from an app. Once you have done some work it does offer a pretty similar feature set to those above.
Like the Transit App, HopStop offers a bunch of international cities making it great for TTC-goers and jetsetters alike.
Have an Android TTC app you think is better than my picks? Let us know in the comments below.