Review: Traveline Scotland
Perhaps we take it as a given now, but the amount of sensor technology in your phone opens a huge number of avenues for useful and 'smart' applications. Finding ways to use the GPS and that big fat data connection has been something developers have been exploring for the last few years, but sometimes the simplest solutions are the most attractive applications. Step forward Traveline Scotland, with a wealth of public transport information.
Version Reviewed: 18.104.22.168
Naturally the application will ask to use your location, and I would recommend you let it, because it is kind of important. With no setting up beyond the "yes, work out where I am", I was shown a map on screen with all the bus stops in the area. Tapping on one of those and I get an upcoming departures board for that bus stop. Head to another mode of transport's stop and those are available as well.
Okay that's smart if you're at home, and you know where the buses go, but Traveline Scotland's big advantage is the route planner. It takes all the live information, from multiple modes of transport, and presents you with a number of options to get you to your destinations, potentially using a number of transport options.
It's not perfect - trying to get a route from my house in Edinburgh to my favourite bar in Glasgow was too complicated, even though it's one bus, one train, and about five minutes walk at the other end, but if you're doing route planning that's not spanning most of the central belt of Scotland, you should be okay! If I start the planning near any Edinburgh train station then the app has more luck, so perhaps the route planning needs a little bit more work to spot intra-urban routes.
In terms of transport, your route is planned through a mix of walking, ferry, bus and coach services, and Scotland's only underground service in Glasgow, 'the clockwork orange', although you can filter out any transport mode as you plan your route. The app also remembers where you have been searching for, and you can build up a list of favourite destinations.
Also lurking in the application is a news feed, which is a nice touch, but it's under-utilised - just six stories in the last five weeks. I'm sure there's more going on with Scottish travel than a torch relay and a new bus service to Dundee!
Finally you can call up details and information on the Scottish road network through the Traffic Scotland service. Looking remarkably like an iPhone application, this is comprehensive and updated throughout the day with road closures, incidents, weather reports, reports from the gritting lorries, park and ride details, and more. If you have a decent commute, then this is a vital part of the application.
Or you can just admire the live traffic cameras.
If I was marking Traveline Scotland purely on functionality, it would rate very highly. Yes it's a niche product thanks to its geographic focus, but it mostly delivers on what it promises. But as an overall package it feels slightly disjointed, with lots of ideas thrown at the screen, given some big metro like squares, and asked to be a cohesive app.
With some focus and a consistent design, Traveline Scotland could be a great example of a Windows Phone application - it just needs to embrace Metro UI 100%, and preferably from earlier in the (re)design process.
It works, it does the job, but needs a bit of style. It's still staying on my handset though.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at