The Apple Watch will tell you if your train is running late

Apple and its developers are announcing a lot of apps being retooled for its new smart watch, launching next week, but one particular app caught my eye. Crowdsoured public transit app Moovit says it will have an Apple Watch-optimized version of its app ready when the wearable goes on sale whenever that date happens to be.

There are several smartphone apps that will help you navigate the complex train, bus and metro networks of any big city, but the only problem with them is they’re in your smartphone. When you’re rushing to catch a train, or on a crowded sidewalk trying to find the closest bus stop, the last thing you want to do is whip out your device. Putting basic, yet pertinent information you need to navigate a crowded cityscape on your wrist is an ideal use case for a wearable. Moovit says an Android Wear version of the app will also be released in [company]Google[/company] Play sometime in the second quarter.

Moovit Apple Watch 1

 

The [company]Apple[/company] Watch app will give you a tiny map showing the nearest public transit stops so if you’re in an unfamiliar area, you’ll know where to head to catch your bus or train. Tap on one of those icons, and you’ll get arrival times for every train or bus that stops there. While actually planning a trip might be easier on your phone than on the Watch’s limited display, once you have an itinerary entered, Moovit will show you the trip details. For example, Moovit will show you directions to a transit stop and your expected time arrival at your destination.

Also, if you have favorite itineraries programmed into Moovit – for instance, your daily commute to work – the Watch will display the next arrival and departure times of the buses and trains you typically take. Finally, the app will ship alerts to your watch face on service disruptions for those same oft-used transit lines.

Moovit Apple Watch 2

 

This would have been an awfully handy thing to have this week at Mobile World Congress where accessing the Barcelona metro system is a must unless you like 2-hour cab lines. A simple glance at my wrist would have told me where I needed to go to catch my train, and how long I had before it arrived. Instead, I stood around at crowded intersections looking like a rube as I tried to access Google Maps on my phone. ETA information also would have been quite helpful since I often found myself arriving either 30 minutes early or 30 minutes late to appointments.

Moovit, which is often described as the Waze of public transit, has been on a bit of a tear lately. The Israeli company recently raised a $50 million Series C round, and it has expanded into 500 cities in 50 countries while racking up 15 million users contributing transit data to its database.

 

Moovit, the Waze of public transit, rakes in another $50M

The meteoric rise of Waze was a huge success story for the Israeli tech scene, and the country is now aiming to repeat that success with another crowdsourced transportation company – this one focused on public transit rather than individual drivers. Moovit has raised a $50 million Series C round, bringing its total funding to $82 million.

Nokia Growth Partners, BMW i Ventures, Keolis, Bernard Arnault Group, and Vaizra Investments all participated in the round along with existing investors BRM Group, Gemini Partners and Sequoia Capital.

Moovit

Like Waze, Moovit relies on its community of commuters to report on the state of a city’s bus, train, metro and trams systems in real-time. Its iOS, iPhone and Windows apps track users as they navigate the transit system and queries them on specific conditions; for example, how crowded a train car or bus stop is. The techniques it uses are very similar to accident and traffic reporting features on Waze. That not only gives Moovit commuters an idea about delays and possible alternatives to their regular routes, it lets Moovit finely tune its mapping and navigation services for people trying to get where they’re going by public transit.

When we last checked in with Moovit a year ago, it had 3 million members in its crowdsourcing community but in 13 months its grown to 15 million in 500 cities spread through 45 countries.