Each of these apps makes transit more efficient or convenient. Together, they can do something almost magical: make transit attractive to urbanites who previously saw owning a car as a necessity.
Planning your trips
These apps try to find the best way to reach your destination by combining timetables from multiple transit agencies:
Google Maps[Learn more] shows your current location along with walking, transit, or driving directions. In the iPhone app, you can double-tap the locator button to align the map with the iPhone's compass.
Catching your ride
Not missing your stop
These apps can run in the background and have surprisingly little effect on battery life. They use power-hungry GPS only when cell/wifi location data indicates that you are somewhat close.
Staying productive and entertained
I often use time on the train to read articles. Whenever I find myself with too many Wikipedia tabs open, I send them to my phone using the Instapaper or Spool bookmarklet. Sometimes I read books on my phone using the Amazon Kindle app.
Getting a car when you need one
In my next posts, I'll list my ideas for new transit apps and explain how platforms could better support location-aware apps.