Just before the lunch break, I saw this tweet from Metlink.[tweet https://twitter.com/metlinkwgtn/status/597545918271987712]
It’s an Android widget that sits on the screen instead of an app that needs to be opened. I gave it a quick try during my lunch break and decided to post a quick review.
After placing the widget, the configuration screen opens up. The user can select up to two stations to monitor. While this might seem limiting, most people are likely to have a stop close to home and a stop close to work. It’s not really going to drag people out of the mindset that public transit is for commuting, but lots of people will find value in this design.
For each stop, there are 3 text areas, stop code, stop name and a filter. Setting the stop code automatically sets the stop name, but the reverse isn’t true. You’re going to have to find your own stop code.
Unfortunately, setting the stop code is probably a bit too simplistic. If you don’t know the code, the widget isn’t going to give you any help. Your best bet is jumping into a map that shows the bus stops and get the information from there. Ideally, the software company would have provided a map screen that could populate the stop code automatically. Maybe the next revision.
Filtering is a nice touch, given the proportion of passengers who work near the CBD but live remotely. Most people will have a small number of routes that will serve their needs. Since the widget is fixed at 4 lines of RTI display, judicious filtering will save screen resources for what’s interesting.
My overall impression is that it does a simple job reasonably well. It keeps the display simple enough that users aren’t left hunting for information. I’m a bit disappointed that the widget isn’t allowed to scale to larger or smaller sizes. It’s assumed that 4 lines is correct, but people have a way of surprising you and assumptions have a way of being wrong.