Planes, trains and automobiles: Waymate unveils its ambitious travel comparison app

Berlin’s Waymate has launched its mobile app for comparing various local and long-distance transport options on the go.

We wrote about Waymate and its rival GoEuro last month – both companies are trying to navigate the world of travel comparison services, but Waymate is taking the extra step of letting people book journeys directly from the service, rather than sending them off to the train or plane operators’ websites.

As we noted at the time, this is difficult from a data point of view, due to the complexity of the various services on offer. There’s an even greater barrier, though, in the unwillingness of many operators to let a third-party service handle their bookings.

Despite these hurdles, Waymate’s iOS(s aapl) app is now out and its website is fully up and running. In this initial version, users cannot book journeys directly from the app – instead, they can select a journey then email themselves a link, allowing them to complete the booking on Waymate’s website. The service is also yet to be internationalized, meaning long-distance journeys need to originate in the Eurozone and local journeys can only be searched within major German cities.

The chief benefit of Waymate is the ability to compare all sorts of travel modes: planes, trains and automobiles (car-sharing schemes and taxis are included), as well as metro services and buses. Price and journey duration are clearly displayed on a visual timeline. Sensibly, Waymate has scrapped earlier plans to have two separate apps for local and long-distance travel: this one folds in both ideas.

“Now the task is to expand the app and the website with thrilling new features — especially in social networking — and to internationalize,” Waymate CEO Maxim Nohroudi said in a statement. “In short, we want travel planning to be completely simple and joyful.”

It’s an ambitious aim and one that (as far as I am aware) no-one has been able to achieve so far. It would be no surprise to see the app that finally pulls it off come out of Europe, as the fragmented nature of the market creates a substantial need for a service like this. Now let’s see how far Waymate’s rivals dive into this space.