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.

 

Today in Cleantech

It seems like everyone wants to get a piece of China’s smart grid — first IBM, now General Electric. The General has two new projects and joint ventures with State Grid Corp. of China (SGCC), part of its commitment to spend some $2 billion in China over the next two years. SGCC subsidiary Wuhan Nari will work on a grid “asset optimizing technology solution,” and Electric Power of Shanghai will join GE in a 75-percent stake in Chinese grid switching manufacturer Tianling Switchgear. GE also grabbed a piece of China’s railroad industry in partnerships with locomotive and switching companies — and GE makes locomotives and batteries to power them. While GE gears up to gird the grid in new sensors, switches and communications gear, IBM is building software to help Shanghai’s grid operators plan for and restore outages — and it’s also working with South Korean firms on that country’s landmark smart grid pilot project on Jeju Island. Siemens, meanwhile, revealed yesterday that it is close to signing a major electric vehicle charging deal with a Chinese city — another part of the smart grid where foreign competitors will be wise to line up plenty of domestic partnerships.

Netflix Streaming Headed to Windows Mobile Devices

Netflix (s NFLX) streaming could be coming to mobile devices by the end of the year, but the iPhone might not be the first platform to support it, as has been widely anticipated. Instead, that honor might belong to devices that are built on Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Windows Phone 7 Series operating system.
At Microsoft’s MIX10 developer’s conference, the company gave a preview of some third-party mobile applications that will run on the new OS, which is set to ship on devices by the end of 2010. That includes a Netflix app prototype that was demoed by Scott Stanfield, CEO of Vertigo, the mobile development company that created the app.
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Better Place, Denmark’s DSB Strike Deal for Eco-Techno-Utopian Transit

betterplace-dsb-logosElectric car infrastructure startup Better Place and Danish rail operator DSB have a vision to link electric vehicles, car sharing networks, trains and mobile devices into one high-tech, eco-utopian transportation system in Denmark. The duo has just announced an agreement to install charging stations for electric vehicles at “a number of major Danish train stations,” and provide an electric car sharing service at Denmark’s main commuter stations so train passengers can pick up a plug-in for the next leg of their trip.


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U.K. Transportation Is a Mixed Bag: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

It was a big day for transportation in the UK today, but is the region’s transportation getting greener? Buried in a long list of initiatives announced by the UK’s Department for Transport today was £250 million ($364.4 million) in funding to get more low-carbon vehicles on the road. The agency also plans to look at a possible high-speed rail link between London and Scotland. Good moves, right?

Sure, but it’s the approval of a controversial £8 billion expansion of Heathrow Airport that could have a substantial, and negative, impact on the environment. The Transport folks plan to add a third runway and a sixth terminal, which could eventually lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. There have already been numerous protests against the expansion, which will add about 400 flights per day at the airport, already one of the busiest in the world, and eventually boost the total number of annual flights to 702,000, up from 480,000.

Opponents, including the country’s environment secretary and energy secretary, complained that building a new runway would go against the UK’s target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
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